The research summary titled Measuring the Economic Impacts of Inbound Higher Education Mobility was preceded by nearly one year of preparatory work and research. The study focused on foreign students’ impact on economy, their tourist consumption habits and the studentification processes in certain cities (when the number of students in a city or a part of it increases, the local service providers adapt to the needs over time). The research also set out to analyse the role and weight of foreign students as a consumer group. The research was not unprecedented; the research team, headed by Associate Professor Dr. Zsuzsa M. Császár, had formerly conducted research in the topic in three major university cities.
The novelty of the research lies in its focus and methodological elaboration. The study covered the whole of the country and every higher education institution hosting foreign students. The analysis concentrated on three main target groups: Stipendium Hungaricum scholarship holders, Erasmus+ students and fee-paying foreign students - in fact, all the foreign students. The data was collected through quantitative and qualitative research tools, using reliable analytic methods. The most important tool of data collection was a questionnaire survey, with the entire sample consisting of the responses of 6,296 foreign students from 41 higher education institutions. More than half of the respondents study at four universities, the University of Debrecen, Budapest University of Technology and Economics, Eötvös Loránd University and the University of Pécs. Besides foreign students, the target groups of qualitative data collection were the staff of the universities, heads of service providers and businesses and the vice mayors of provincial university cities.
Of the research findings, we should highlight the conclusion that the added value which foreign students studying in Hungary represent within national economy is a significant factor. The impact of foreign students’ consumption on regional development varies. In this respect, the capital city has the largest weight, followed by the three major provincial university cities Pécs, Szeged and Debrecen, to various extents in the different student target groups.
The tourism-related expenditure of foreign students represents an important market within the Hungarian tourism sector: their consumption and the contribution of their guests is considerable, both in terms of the number of visitor nights and the daily expenditure. The analyses of the studentification processes pointed out that among foreign students studying in Hungary, the capital was the most popular destination. Their satisfaction with the city is due to, among others, the good public transport system, the cultural values, the sights and the high-quality services of Budapest. As regards the other university cities, the discrepancies between students’ needs and the supply are more conspicuous.
Data collection began in January 2020, that is, in an academic year when the number of foreign students was very high, about 38,000. The rising trend of mobility of the previous years was interrupted by the crisis caused by COVID-19; in the near future, mobility is unlikely to show the picture of the pre-pandemic period. That, perhaps, gives even more importance to studies which examine the impacts of mobility at various levels and from various aspects, and then, based on the findings, formulate proposals which may be useful in the near future.
The research was implemented under and funded by the Stipendium Hungaricum programme, with support from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. The research was carried out by Terra Graph Ltd., under the leadership of Dr. Zsuzsanna Császár, Head of Research.
Tempus Public Foundation
Last modified: 16-03-2021