What can stop "Brain drain" from Azerbaijan?

In 2011-2015, Azerbaijan will become the country of least favorable for realization of talent, where the risk of "brain drain" is too great. This conclusion was made as a result of the Global Talent Index 2011-2015 written by the Economist Intelligence Unit and published by Heidrick & Struggles.

According to the Outlook, the country, which in 2011 ranks the 54th with 23 points, in 2015 with the same points will oust Nigeria ranking the 60th (final position).

Studies were conducted in Azerbaijan on 3 methods of evaluation, including a survey of students and professionals, as well as business people, as well as upon seven parameters, including the quality of secondary and higher education. Their negative result is linked primarily to the lack of truly global market-oriented economy in the country and the impossibility of self-realization in Azerbaijan. This gives raise to the brain drain from the country as the migration of educated or professional personnel from one country to another, usually for receiving better payment or living conditions.

According to the Global Talent Index 2011-2015, the United States with 75 points (out of 100) will retain the first position in 2011 and 2015. Russia with 40 points will rank the 34th, Kazakhstan (30 points) will rise from 53rd to 52nd, Iran - from 42nd to 39th, Turkey will rise from 48th to 33rd.

The report included only Russia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine and Azerbaijan from theCIS countries.

Yes, in some respects the results of the study are truthful. It is known that at the beginning of independence, the negative factors were present in education and science. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, it turned out that the state is unable to properly finance the research institutes, pay the salary to researchers in accordance with the world standards and reinforce the science with advanced equipment and technology. In 1992 even a proposal was made to abolish, close the Academy of Sciences of Azerbaijan. Scientific intelligentsia was not valued morally or financially. And then the best brains started to leave Azerbaijan.

Currently much work is done in Azerbaijan aimed at developing and raising the scientific potential of country, the state budget allocates huge funds for science, the National Strategy for the development of science in the Republic of Azerbaijan in 2009-2015 and the State Programme for its implementation are implemented. A Science Development Fund has been established, which addresses the issues of purchasing modern equipment, provides a variety of grants in order to stimulate research in Azerbaijan. This year the Science Development Fund under the President of Azerbaijan allocated 6.1 million manat to finance projects that won the competition.

The issue of establishing a fund for young scientists is also on agenda, which is stipulated in the "Azerbaijani youth in 2011-2015" State Program.

In recent years, strengthening the material-technical base of scientific research institutions of the Academy, repair and reconstruction of its buildings have become intense. As an example, it is possible to call the overhaul of Shamakhi Astrophysical Observatory of the National Academy of Sciences of Azerbaijan (NASA), buildings of the National History Museum of Azerbaijan, Literature Museum named after Nizami Ganjavi.

Last month, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev on Friday signed a decree on additional measures to strengthen the logistics of the Azerbaijani National Academy of Sciences (ANAS). Based on the decree, 5 million manat should be allocated to the ANAS from the President's Reserve Fund designed in the 2011-state budget, as well as 2 million manat should be allocated to construct new building of the ANAS Central Library and for major repairs of buildings of the Institutes of Physics and Geology, located in the Academic city, as well as the Polymer Materials Institute located in Sumgait - 1 million manat per each.

And a month before the President signed a decree on increasing salaries of staff and scientific research institutions of the Academy of Sciences . According to the decree, the monthly salary of employees of scientific and research institutions of the Academy of Sciences from May 1, 2011 increased by an average of 20 percent. In addition, the monthly salary for the rank of real members of the National Academy of Sciences of Azerbaijan was established in 1,200 manat, while the monthly salary for the correspondent members in 850 manat. In comparison, even the lowest paid employee gets $6-8,000 per month in foreign countries.

The issue of social security of researchers was reflected in amendments to the law on labor pensions in Azerbaijan . Thus, under the amendments, if there is at least 25 years of experience research or educational institution, additions will be made to the basic pension.

The people belonging to this category and who have a Ph.D. will receive 200 manat to basic pension, pensioners with a degree of Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) - 120 manat. These additions will affect about 5,960 people. Of these, 1,460 are doctors of science, 4,500 - candidates of sciences.

All the above-mentioned are the state care in the field of science in Azerbaijan, but, as known in international practice, foreign scientists earn a lot of money upon private contracts. Thus, in foreign countries the scientists have long conducted their research upon the orders of private companies. Thus, science brings big profits.

With regards to Azerbaijan, this practice is absent because of several reasons. In Azerbaijan, the private companies consider investments in science futile and risky. But European researchers are interested in the commercialization of scientific developments made by Azerbaijani scientists.

The Regional Information Technologies Academy (RITA) Director Tofig Babayev said that the RITA presented the European Union with eight scientific projects composed by Azerbaijani scientists and developers, three of which were regarded with serious interest by the European researchers and a willingness to work with Azerbaijani scientists at the consortium. The first project is the development of a new class of active materials. These materials are based on a hybrid polymer of electric composites found at the Institute of Physics. The second project is the development of the mobile program-technical complex for monitoring the cardiovascular system, using robust technology and the theory of voice monitoring by the Institute of Cybernetics. The third project is a system of optimal control of power resources of the company "Cyber".

"We have presented an annotation of all three projects, and if they are of interest to members of other European scientific societies and organizations, then under the European Union's (EU) 7th Framework Program on Information and Communication Technologies (ICTFP7), a tender will be announced from July 17, which will run until January 2012," Babayev said. According to Babayev, Azerbaijani scientists will have to develop software and hardware solutions with their European counterparts to implement these projects.

"At present, Spanish researchers have discussed the availability of a structure which can develop mobile devices and diagnose the state of the human body, while the French have presented an organization which can provide signal processing. Our goal is to contact these organizations, to present the idea and to begin preparations of the project. The development of these devices and the preparation of trial designs may require a minimum of three years. If the scientific projects will receive appropriate support, then they will be commercialized and re-introduced to the world market," Babayev said.

In 2010, the Science Development Fund of Azerbaijan at the State Copyright Agency recorded more than 200 projects.

Director of the Philosophy, Sociology and Law Institute of the Azerbaijani National Academy of Sciences (ANAS) Ilham Mammadzade has urged Azerbaijani scientists to write their research work in English, and bring them into the international arena.

"Scientists will be able to present their works to the world if they write them in English, Russian and partly in Turkish. This is today's call," Mammadzade said. He added that last year scientists have published 400 research works, 100 of them were published in foreign countries' publishing houses.

"Nevertheless, today our scientists' speeches in international conferences are very weak. It is necessary to participate in international projects," he said. "Our ranking in the CIS increases, but we must take our place also in the European science and philosophy," Mammadzade added.

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