HIGHLY qualified university graduates are dominating the flood of Irish people emigrating to Europe, the US, Canada and Australia for a better life.
A major study has found that Ireland, despite having the same economic problems as Spain, Italy, Portugal and Greece, has by far the highest emigration levels within the EU.
Sadly, 82pc of emigrants said they would love to return home if economic conditions improve, but only 22pc see that as likely in the short to medium term.
The study found that:
* 62pc of Irish emigrants hold a third-level qualification.
* 75pc of Irish people questioned said emigration was having a massively negative impact on society.
* 17pc of those emigrating worked in construction-related industries.
* Emigration is almost twice as likely to involve people from rural rather than urban areas.
* Contrary to perceptions, 47pc of emigrants were in full-time employment before opting to move abroad.
* 13pc of those emigrating were only in part-time employment.
* 23pc of those emigrating were unemployed.
Study investigator, Professor Piaras MacEinri, says emigration remains a complex area that often defies preconceptions.
"The results of this research have highlighted how complicated a topic emigration is and how nuanced individuals' experiences of emigration can be," he said.
"There exists no single emigrant who is typical of today's Irish emigrant and no single set of circumstances or experiences that can be prescribed as being typical of Irish emigrants."
The study found that migrants gave their quality of life in Ireland an average ranking of 5.5 out of 10. In contrast, those queried in the study gave a rating of 7.9 out of 10 for the quality of their life overseas.
Over 80pc of those questioned said they were fully accepted into their new overseas communities.
The survey was carried out among almost 3,000 people.
Ironically, despite Ireland having one of Europe's highest profile migration histories, the country lags far behind the rest of the EU in terms of offering citizens overseas voting rights.
Between 1800 and 2013, over 10 million people emigrated from Ireland.
In the 1950s, three out of every five children born in Ireland would ultimately emigrate.
Emigration fell from 70,000 a year in 1989 to negligible levels during the Celtic Tiger era.
However, in the five years from 2007 to 2012, emigration levels increased by 400pc.