Indiana 'Brain Drain' Draws Concerns At Universities

Tim Goral's picture

In a few weeks, Ashley Robbins will join thousands of Purdue University students in graduation ceremonies.

But unlike most of those wrapping up their studies on the West Lafayette campus, Robbins will start her professional career nearby.

Robbins plans to start work this fall at Find8 Digital, a Lafayette media marketing company where she excelled as an intern.

"It was mid-February or early March when they first expressed interest in wanting me to stay on," Robbins said. "I was surprised and ecstatic, because I didn't think they would want to hire on an intern."

The professional writing student is bucking a widespread trend.

Nearly 93 percent of Purdue graduates leave Tippecanoe County within a year of finishing school, according to data gathered by the Indiana Commission for Higher Education.

And just a third of Purdue graduates are working in Indiana five years after graduation, the Journal & Courier reported. The migration of young college graduates from the Hoosier State — often referred to as the "brain drain" — is a pattern that economic development experts, area employers and politicians are working to reverse.

Although officials could not point to any fixed data showing the economic consequences of these graduates leaving, an article written by Timothy Slaper of the Indiana Business Research Center showed a correlation between Indiana's per capita personal income and higher levels of education.

In the study, Slaper said a state's per capita personal income increased when there was a high concentration of high-tech and business occupations that require post-secondary education.

Indiana has a higher concentration of production and manufacturing jobs. That means graduates who are seeking employment with their degree might find more opportunities outside the state. When they leave, it affects the state's per capita personal income.

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