In Hungary, the career tracking of graduates has become a central topic in recent years. Both higher education institutions and organisations that have been involved in the development and improvement of the graduate career tracking system have unique experiences in this field. Tempus Public Foundation also built on this experience, when conducting empirical research in cooperation with the Educational Authority focusing on international graduates. The aim of the research, which was launched in September 2020 under the title "Career tracking of international students graduated in Hungary", was to get a more thorough picture of the background of international students, the transition to the world of work and their relationship with Hungary, focusing on students who received their pre-degree certificate between 2012 and 2019. Using the results of this research, in the spring of 2021, the career-tracking survey of graduates under the Stipendium Hungaricum Programme was also carried out.
Of course, as the number of international students has increased in recent years, the number of international graduates has also increased. : In 2016, 3383 international students graduated from a Hungarian higher education institution, and in 2019 that number was more than 5300. This number is expected to continue to rise in the coming years. In the autumn semester 2020/2021, the number of international students in the last year was 5890 and in the spring semester, it was 8420. Under the Stipendium Hungaricum Programme, in the autumn semester, the number of senior students was 2234, and in the spring semester, it was 3223.
Nowadays, the career of young people is diverse and difficult to map. According to the research, the employment of international graduates shows a specific picture, different from that of the Hungarian graduates. This research confirmed international results showing, for example, that a large percentage of international graduates have returned for training and that the unemployment rate among them is relatively high. At the time of the survey, at the beginning of 2020, 55 per cent of those surveyed were full-time workers, nearly 19 per cent took part in some form of training, 13 per cent were unemployed and slightly less than a tenth, 8 per cent, had part-time jobs.
More than a degree is needed
Of course, the career and employability of graduates are determined by several factors. The research focused on how qualifications and the acquisition of different professional skills work, how they can be used in the labour market. A degree is a significant factor, although it differs in value in various fields and sectors. At the same time, professional and general skills are becoming more and more important in all areas. In terms of communication skills, for example, foreign graduates claim that their training was about developing presentation skills - least of all, it was useful in terms of written communication skills, and the importance of general and professional skills is sometimes undervalued compared to a degree. The role of universities is essential in the development of academic and professional skills.
Higher education is a key area for finding and building communities. Concerning employment in the labour market, relationships established during university studies are also crucial for international graduates. The most common job strategies include success through personal relationships, as well as many find their first job after graduation through previous professional training or work relationships.
Building a professional community is time-consuming; during their studies, international students should be given the opportunity and time to build relationships with professional communities, for example, during an internship.
Contact with Hungary
Another interesting question is what percentage of international students leaves Hungary. According to the research, nearly 60 per cent of respondents no longer live in Hungary. Among the reasons for moving out of Hungary are family and close communities at home, lack of knowledge of the Hungarian language and labour market conditions. The chances of employment can be influenced by these, as the lack of Hungarian knowledge, little work experience and employers' attitudes, also be an obstacle.
An important question was how, in retrospect, international graduates value higher education in Hungary. Nearly three quarters of the respondents to the 2020 research are satisfied with the higher education in Hungary. 53 per cent of those surveyed consider a Hungarian degree more valuable than degrees issued by higher education institutions in their own country, while 37 per cent consider it equivalent.
39 per cent of the international students living abroad visited Hungary after completing their studies here, and the majority, 80 per cent, follow the news and events related to Hungary intensely.
The research flash report is available on the Tempus Public Foundation's website.
Author: Georgina Kasza | Tempus Public Foundation | Study in Hungary Directorate
Last modified: 21-02-2022