‘Brain Drain’ Worries Kansas Leaders

WICHITA, Kan. — Kansas is facing the prospect of a “brain drain” as fewer people who graduate from an in-state college or university choose to stay in the state, according to Board of Regents President Blake Flanders.

It’s unclear whether people are leaving because the higher education system is failing to align itself with the Kansas economy, or whether the local economy is failing to offer the opportunities college graduates seek.

“I think we can put the blame in a lot of places,” Flanders said Wednesday when he addressed the board during its annual retreat, which was held in Wichita. “I think it’s something we can work together on.”

Flanders said that from 2010 to 2014, the percentage of Kansas college graduates employed in the state within one year of finishing school has remained relatively flat. However, he said the number employed here five years after graduating has been declining, The Lawrence Journal-World reported.

That’s true for all post-secondary graduates, including from technical colleges, community colleges, or one of the six universities governed by the board, he said.

Those earning bachelor’s and graduate degrees are the most likely to leave the state, Flanders said.
In 2014, 47 percent of the people who had earned bachelor’s degrees five years earlier were still employed in Kansas, Flanders said. That was down from 52 percent in 2010.

People earning master’s and doctoral degrees have had even more difficulty finding jobs in Kansas.
In 2014, only 45 percent of people earning master’s degrees and just one-third of those earning doctoral degrees were employed in Kansas in their first year after graduating, according to Board of Regents data.

Flanders said college graduates are in high demand and are recruited by companies outside Kansas.

“Our institutions are beginning to take that lead to connect students,” he said. “We welcome any partnership from the economic development community as well.”

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