Thursday June 18, 2009

Brain Drain

In a new survey, 83 percent of University of Dayton students say they're pleased with the school's career placement efforts, but too many are considering leaving the state after graduation to launch their careers. A significant number would consider careers in education.

The vast majority of University of Dayton students say their campus is serious about helping them develop career options and connections in Ohio, according to a new survey by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. Yet they mirror the views of college students across the state. Far too many plan to leave after graduation.

Approximately 83 percent praise the University of Dayton's career placement efforts, compared to 69 percent at six other top universities in the state. Approximately 58 percent of all students surveyed will either leave or are leaning toward leaving Ohio because they perceive the state's career opportunities are lacking, according to the survey. Among University of Dayton students, the percentage climbs to 60 percent — a reflection of the University's growing national draw — but is still lower than the 79 percent of non-Ohioan undergraduates who believe their future lies outside the state. 

Like other college students in the state, University of Dayton students are attracted to a proposed state income tax credit for those who stay in Ohio a decade and a cash grant toward down payments on homes, but more than a third (35 percent compared to 22 percent statewide) desire greater job opportunities in engineering, bio-technology or other applied sciences. A significant number would consider a career in education.

"The University of Dayton is strong at connecting its students to the community.  This is important because internships, co-ops and other programs are essential if we want to get out-of-staters to stay here," said Terry Ryan, Fordham Institute vice president for Ohio programs and policy. "One bright spot is that so many top undergraduates would be interested in teaching. Our interest in education and improving teaching is why we did the survey."

The survey, Losing Ohio's Future: Why College Students Flee the Buckeye State and What Might Be Done About It, illuminates the "brain drain" issue in a state hit hard by the recession. The survey's results were the focus of a breakfast presentation and panel discussion June 16 at the Racquet Club in Dayton sponsored by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute and University of Dayton.  Panel participants included former Ohio Gov. Bob Taft; Jim Leftwich, president and CEO of the Dayton Development Coalition; and Michael Ervin, civic leader and downtown advocate. Ellen Belcher, editorial page editor at the Dayton Daily News, moderated the discussion, which was framed by Ryan and Thomas Lasley, dean of the University of Dayton's School of Education and Allied Professions.

The FDR Group, a non-partisan opinion-research firm in New York City, conducted the survey for Fordham. It is believed to be the first study to utilize an Internet social networking site to reach respondents. Using Facebook and random samples provided by colleges, the FDR Group interviewed 811 sophomores, juniors and seniors at the University of Dayton, Case Western Reserve University, Kent State University, Miami University, Oberlin College, Ohio State University and Ohio University.

The Thomas B. Fordham Institute is an education-policy think tank based in Ohio and Washington, D.C.

The University of Dayton is a top-tier national Catholic research university and the largest private university in Ohio. For fall 2009, the University attracted more out-of-state applications than in-state ones. In all, the University of Dayton attracted more than 12,000 applications for its first-year class, a new record.