Dorji has seen many of his colleagues move to Australia. They’ve been urging him to join them Down Under, lured by the promise of studying, working, and supporting their families in Bhutan. For Dorji, the appeal of Australia’s opportunities for education, employment, earning potential, and aiding loved ones back home is simply too strong to resist.

Even if Dorji could scrape together funds for his higher education tuition and living expenses in Australia, he faced significant obstacles. Despite his efforts, as an average student, he struggled to achieve the necessary score in the English language test.

But Dorji has found an alternative plan. He’s set to depart for Europe next week, where the conditions align more favourably for him. Not only are the tuition fees lower, but the English language test score requirements are also less stringent compared to those for Canada or Australia. Additionally, the financial requirements, often referred to as “show money”, are considerably lower than what is typically demanded for applications to Canada or Australia.

As Australia, traditionally a top choice for Bhutanese students, tightens its regulations for international students, Europe emerges as a viable alternative. Education placement firms have stepped in, offering solutions to fulfil the aspirations of numerous Bhutanese seeking opportunities abroad. While some had hoped that stricter regulations in Australia would deter the departure of Bhutanese youth and working professionals needed in their home country, the accessibility and flexibility of European options have countered this trend.

It appears that the next wave of migration may be towards Europe. Despite warnings about the challenges of living and working in Europe, education consultancies find it increasingly feasible to facilitate Bhutanese students’ journeys to European countries. Bhutanese have a proven ability to adapt. Their upbringing, often involving tasks like tending to cattle, transporting manure to fields, and walking long distances to school, has instilled resilience. Thus, the prospect of working long hours and earning in Euros is unlikely to deter them.

We will witness numerous individuals like Dorji, along with their families, departing for Europe. This trend isn’t inherently negative. We recognise the inevitability of people seeking better opportunities elsewhere, especially if the current circumstances fail to provide sufficient motivation to remain. While we ponder the reasons behind the recent exodus of Bhutanese citizens, we find ourselves lacking in providing viable solutions to address this issue.

Even after dedicating 15 years to a state-owned enterprise with a respectable salary, Dorji remains convinced that Europe holds the key to his future. Despite acknowledging the challenges of adapting to a new environment and work culture, it appears that financial considerations weigh heavily in his decision.

The floodgates have now opened, and we will see a significant increase in the number of Bhutanese individuals departing for Europe. The conditions have become more favourable, facilitating Bhutanese participation in this saga of exodus.

There will be significant repercussions across various sectors. The government, corporations, and the private sector are poised to lose even more professionals as the exodus to Europe intensifies.

Beyond the immediate impact on consumer demand, the departure of skilled and trained professionals will likely lead to an acute shortage in critical service delivery across different sectors in the country.