Ireland is suffering a severe brain drain due to emigration according to a new survey by researchers at University College Cork.

Researchers found that today's Irish emigrants are much more likely to have a high standard of education than the population in general with almost 2 in 3 emigrants having college degrees.

Among the key findings  were:

* While only  47% of Irish people aged between 25-34 hold a college degree of three years or more, 62% of recent Irish emigrants hold the equivalent qualification, suggesting that graduates are over-represented amongst those leaving.

* Ireland appears to have experienced significantly higher levels of emigration per capita than other Western European countries affected by the Eurozone crisis. Portuguese emigration comes closest to resembling the scale of Irish emigration.

*  Over 17% of Irish emigrants worked in Ireland in the construction or construction-related industry. These people comprised tradesmen, civil engineers, architects, quantity surveyors and many others.
*Emigration continues to have a greater effect on rural parts of Ireland than on urban areas. At least one household in four in the extremely rural areas has been directly affected by the emigration of at least one member since 2006.

* 15.9% of households said that it was extremely likely that someone from their residence would emigrate in the next three years.

* Contrary to what many people might expect, 47% of today's emigrants were in fact employed in full-time jobs before leaving. Just under 40% of these emigrants left because they wanted to travel and to experience another culture. These were often people with qualifications that other countries coveted, such as valuable IT skills or health professionals. A significant proportion left to find another job or to attain job experience not available to them at home (43.6% combined).

* Underemployment was a major driving factor, with 13% of emigrants working in part-time jobs before their departure. Many were recent graduates who left to attain job experience abroad.

* Almost 23% of those leaving were unemployed before departing. The great majority of those unemployed left to find a job (76%) or to gain work experience (8%).

* In 2008, 36% of emigrants left for work-related reasons. By 2012, the equivalent figure had risen to 65%.

* The UK and Australia are by far the two most popular destinations for Irish emigrants. Canada is becoming an increasingly important destination, especially as 10,700 2-year working holiday visas will be available for Irish citizens in 2014.

* 28% of emigrants had previous experience of living abroad, a factor which may have helped them to settle in their more recent destinations.

* Ireland trails behind the rest of Europe, as well as many less developed countries in its attitude towards emigrants voting. The research revealed that the overwhelming majority of the Irish population support emigrants' right to vote in presidential (79%) and general elections (69%) in some form or another.

* Although 39.5% out of all recent emigrants would like to return to Ireland in the next three years, only 22% see it as likely. 82% of all emigrants said that improvements to the Irish economy would improve their likelihood of returning.

*  Emigrants living in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and America often hold visas of a limited duration. Less than 10% of emigrants on visas of a fixed duration intend to return to Ireland when their visas expire. 68% would like to extend their visas if possible. It is difficult to predict whether people will always be successful in attaining an extension or permanent residency as it often depends on various factors in the country hosting emigrants.

* Irish emigrants maintain strong connections with home via social networks, texts, Skype, email and telephone calls. Over 70% of emigrants use Skype and telephone calls to regularly maintain contact with family and friends in Ireland. Over 90% of emigrants use Facebook and other social network sites to keep updated.