Western countries have beefed up their universities' credentials by engaging in neocolonial tactics, weaponizing brain drain by luring talented students from Asia and Africa to study abroad, Russian Foreign Intelligence Service director Sergey Naryshkin said Tuesday.
Speaking at the Eastern Economic Forum in the far eastern city of Vladivostok, Naryshkin said that the West actively hinders educational development in the Global East and South. He then claimed Western universities have been "unscrupulously" luring talented youth from countries in Africa and Asia, including Russia, turning these non-Western states into "forced donors of intellectual capital."
The intelligence director then further called for new "alternative principles of the world order" based on true equality, rather than being dominated by the West – with Naryshkin having noted that Western international dominance "caused considerable damage and suffering to all of humanity."
Russian higher education and brain drain since the war in Ukraine
Russian higher learning institutes have seen considerable declines in international university rankings in 2023 since 2022, with some observers noting this decline being linked to the consequences of Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.
Since then, scientific and educational ties between Russia and the US were suspended and ties with European institutions were strained.
Further, Russia has suffered a considerable brain drain since the war began. Numerous academics have stepped down nationwide and have fled the country, with the outlet Novaya Gazeta having identified 270 university staffers who have severed ties with Russia.
But this brain drain goes beyond just academia. According to data cited by Business Insider, nearly a million Russians have fled the country due to the war in Ukraine, contributing to a growing labor shortage. Further, these Russians were also mostly below the age of 45, were skilled workers, had significantly more wealth, and most of them had a college education.