Career Choices, Return Paths and Social Contributions

The African Alumni Project

The MasterCard Foundation has committed substantial investments to improve access to quality secondary and tertiary education in Africa, as well as “school to employment” transition support. As part of this investment, the Scholars Program has partnered with international universities, within and outside Africa, to provide comprehensive undergraduate and master’s-level scholarships to talented, economically disadvantaged African youth who demonstrate leadership potential and a commitment to “giving back” to their communities.

Five of these universities from the United States (University of California, Berkeley, Michigan State University), Canada (McGill University, University of Toronto) and Costa Rica (EARTH University), plus Simon Fraser University in Canada, have partnered to conduct this pioneering study on the career and life trajectories of past African alumni of their respective universities, with the intention to gain knowledge and insights that may improve outcomes for current and future African scholars. Survey and interview methods were used to learn why these African alumni pursued higher education abroad, how they reflect on their international university experience, what paths they’ve pursued after graduation, and how these alumni have contributed to social transformation on the African continent.

This study contributes new empirical knowledge to the field of higher education and social change and the sub-field of international student mobility. Through evidence on the return paths of Sub-Saharan African alumni of international universities, it also contributes to the ongoing “brain drain” debate.