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Universally, human capital has been recognized as one of the factors that contribute towards a nation’s wealth, their growth and development. The importance of human capital cannot be over emphasized, and that is why scholars keep investigating on it.

Despite the interest shown by scholars to proffer solutions to issues related to human capital and economic growth, the disparity still exists.

It is pertinent to note that Africa experiences weak human capital, not just in the education sector but quite noticeable in the health sector. A report from WHO stated that Africa has a need-based shortage of 818,000 medical professionals, compared to the universally accepted 1.4 medical doctors and 0.88 nurses per 1,000 people in a country (United Nations Development Programme, 2013). Irrespective of this recommendation, Africa recorded 0.2 (ibid.) medical doctors per 1000 people. Considering education, Africa records the lowest enrollment of students in school across the world. The gross school enrolment (tertiary) in Africa stood at 8.1%, while

North America and the world average was 90.9% and 32%, respectively in 2012. Lack of human capital is not basically the reason for the slow pace of development in Nigeria, instead the absence of adequate knowledge and skills to increase national output. Nigeria’s literacy level is low coupled with lack of educational skills for training and learning. African countries are well endowed with plenteous natural resources that if well paid attention to can make it one of the world leading continents of the world. Africa is blessed with about three-quarters of the world’s diamond and manganese reserves and harbors over two-fifths of the world’s gold reserves (Amaknwah and Anim-Sackey, 2003). Africa continent is known to be endowed with a reasonable amount of oil reserves in countries like Nigeria, Libya, Sudan, Equatorial Guinea, Angola, and just recently oil was discovered in Ghana.

Over the years, Africa keeps experiencing brain drain and that is why Geneva-based International Organization for Migration (IOM) tagged Africa “African brain drain robs continent of future”, signifying the state of African’s human capital development. This remark means that brain drain is an obvious fact in Africa, thus hampering the economic growth of the continent.

Nigeria keeps losing its human capital on almost a daily basis and this has been detrimental to the economy of the country. They have been flight of the financial wealth of Nigeria for greener pastures in developed countries of the world. The weakness in Nigeria’s human capital is attributed to deficiency in skills, not minding that efforts have been made to improve the shortages and training of man power which have been very slow, disregarding the efforts of both the government and private donors in the past decades (OED, 1994). Nigeria is losing its man power to other markets, thereby increasing their economy and decreasing Nigeria’s economy.

The major problem of human capital in Nigeria is not just about the low level of education and training, but the fact remains that the right measures have not been put in place to retain the available human capital. A report has it that about 150 million or 4 million of the world population are migrants, from this estimation; 50 million are African migrants (IOM, 2000). It is noteworthy that most of African migration is intra-continental and about half of the African migrants (25 million) are either refugees (5 million) or displaced persons (20 million).

Not minding that Nigeria is a fruitful business ground which Nigeria migrants run away from, it has not stopped immigrants.

Recently, the migration rate has increasingly been negative (per 1000 person), reducing from -0.2 in 2000 to -0.3 in 2005; this has continued and decreased to -0.4 in 2010 (UNPD, 2009). According to a recent estimate in 2000, 10.7 per cent of the highly skilled population who were trained in Nigeria work abroad, mostly in Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries. In the United States and Europe, 83 per cent and 46 per cent, respectively, of the Nigerian immigrant population are highly skilled. On average, 64 per cent of the Nigerian emigrant population has tertiary education (Docquier and Marfouk, 2006). In the medical field, 14 per cent of physicians who trained in Nigeria worked abroad, 90 per cent of who live and work in the United States and the United Kingdom (Clemens and Pettersson, 2007).

Similarly, the number of Nigerian youths migrating on educational purposes is on the increase. A critical survey carried out from 2000 to 2006 shows that the number of Nigerian students studying abroad has doubled 10,000 to 22,000 (UNESCO, 2008). All these culminate in Nigeria’s human capital flight, thus this study aims at improving human capital flight: stratification, globalization and the challenges of tertiary education in Nigeria.


One of the major problems of Nigerian education system is imbibing new knowledge into academic courses and programmes (COLI, 2001). Nigerian education system still makes do of obsolete knowledge, thereby producing graduates who cannot fit into the labour force of the country, since their acquired skills and knowledge are irrelevant.

In addition, lack of funding seems to be another cause of human flight in Nigerian tertiary education. As a result of this, there are no teaching and learning aids to enhance the quality of education in Nigeria; consequently, Nigerian youths who can afford the money have no choice than to opt for tertiary education abroad, indirectly losing Nigeria’s workforce.

Similarly, due to lack of funds, lecturers in Nigeria migrate abroad for greener pastures because they are not well paid; coupled with the fact that they experience cases of debt by the federal government. Also, Research and Development in Nigerian education system is lacking seriously, and this should have been a remedy to creating new knowledge.

Another problem is Nigeria’s inability to retain a large proportion of its skilled and professional personnel.

These are the problems this study seeks to recommend solutions to as Nigeria losing a significant proportion of her skilled and professional manpower to other national market.

1.3   OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY                          

The major objective of this study is to examine human capital flight: stratification, globalization and the challenges of tertiary education in Nigeria.

                Other specific objectives include:

1.To investigate the effects of human capital flight on the economy of Nigeria.

2.To examine the significant relationship between tertiary education in Nigeria and human capital flight.

3.To identify ways of improving the Nigerian education system.

4.To recommend solutions to human flight in the tertiary education of Nigeria.

1.4   RESEARCH QUESTIONS                                                        

The following research questions are generated to guide this study:

  1. What are the effects of human capital flight on the economy of Nigeria?
  2. What is the significant relationship between tertiary education in Nigeria and human capital flight?
  3. What are the challenges of tertiary education in Nigeria?
  4. What are the ways of improving the Nigerian education system?
  5. What are the solutions to human flight in the tertiary education of Nigeria?


H0:   There are no effects of human capital flight on the economy of Nigeria.

H1:   There are effects of human capital flight on the economy of Nigeria.


This study is meant to inform, educate, sensitize and enlighten the general public, universities’ administrators, and government on human capital flight: stratification, globalization and the tertiary education in Nigeria.

This study aims at informing the government that there is need to put right measures in place in order to curb human capital flight, not just in the education sector but other sectors of the economy.

It is equally meant to draw the attention of university lectures that rather than seeking for greener pastures outside the country, they should take an introspective look into the abundant of resources in Nigeria, and put them into meaningful use. 

This study will be of immense benefit to other researchers who intend to know more on this topic and can also be used by non-researchers to build more on their work. This study contributes to knowledge and could serve as a guide for other work or study.


This study is restricted to human capital flight: stratification, globalization and the challenges of tertiary education in Nigeria.

Limitations of study

  1. 1.        Financial constraint- Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).
  2. 2.        Time constraint- The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.


HUMAN CAPITAL FLIGHT: Refers to the emigration of highly skilled or well-educated individuals. Research is mixed as to whether there are net benefits, a "brain gain", or net costs, a "brain drain", to human capital flight for the sending country.

STRATIFICATION: Is the arrangement or classification of something into different groups.

GLOBALIZATION: The process by which businesses or other organizations develop international influence or start operating on an international scale.

CHALLENGES: It is the situation of being faced with something that needs great mental or physical effort in order to be done successfully and therefore tests a person's ability.


United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) (2013). Human Development Report 1990: Concept and Measurement of Human Development. New York: Oxford University Press.

COLI. (2001). Building Capacity to Deliver Distance Education in Nigeria's Federal University System. Vancouver: World Bank.

Clemens, M.A. and G. Pettersson 2007     New data on African health professionals abroad. Working Paper 95, Center for Global Development, Washington DC.

UNESCO.  Global Education Digest, UNESCO, 2012

Docquier, R. N. and Rapoport, H. (1997). “La fuite des cerveaux, une chance pour les pays en development?’’. Annual Meeting on French Economic Association, Paris, September.

UNDP Human Development Report 2007/08, United Nations Development Programme, 2007.

International Organization for Migration - IOM (2000) “Migration in Africa: Globalization and Prospects for Regional Mechanisms” A Statement by Brunson McKinley, Director General, Addis Ababa October 18.

Amaknwah, R.K. and Anim-Sackey, C. (2003) Strategies for sustainable development of the small-scale gold and diamond mining industry of Ghana,Resources Policy,Vol. 29, pp. 131-138.

OED (1994) “The World Bank’s Role in Human Resource Development in Sub-Saharan Africa: Education, Training and Technical Assistance”, Sector Study no. 13449, World Bank.

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