Findings of the Needs Assessment Survey about the Language Learning Programme for Hungarian Students

Tempus Public Foundation conducted a needs assessment between 13 Sept – 10 Oct 2019 in the form of an online survey among the public educational institutions and their students eligible for the Language Learning Programme. The aim of the survey was to have a preliminary idea about the number of students wishing to take part in the programme and also to gather information about the relevant capacity of the schools. The findings are being used to help create a smooth, easy-to-follow application process and to provide data in connection with the possible travel arrangements to be made. At the same time Tempus Public Foundation sent out a preliminary questionnaire to the language centres abroad so as to see whether the courses offered by language centres would cater for the demand.
According to the KIR database containing the full list of Hungarian schools and students there are approximately 140 000 students in the school year 2019/2020 who are eligible for the scholarship.
Based on data taken from KIR database, communication about the programme, alongside with the request to fill in the online survey was sent to 738 public educational institutions. Till the deadline 531 institutions provided answers amounting to 72% of the targeted schools. Out of all respondents 308 schools indicated a demand for both group and individual travel options. 199 institutions indicated only the option of group travel, whereas 15 institutions opted for individual travel only.

  1. Number of travelling students

During the preliminary assessment a total of 89 924 students indicated their intention to participate in the programme. This number may change considerably when more details are available to both institutions and students / parents about the scholarship (e.g. level of responsibility imposed on the institution, financial responsibility of the parents.)

2. Distribution of travelling students by study year

The majority of respondants are Year 9 students (51 000, 57% of all travelling), while approx. 39 000 students, 43 % of all travelling are Year 11 students. This difference is partly due to the fact that Year 9 is more populous because of the Year 0 classes. (Zero year is an additional, introductory year in secondary education dedicated mainly to intensive language learning).

3. Group and individual travel arrangements

The majority of the students (90%) planning to travel would prefer to go with groups organised by their institution and only about 10% indicated their preference for individual travel. 60% of the students planning to travel individually are in Year 11. Based on feedback we have received so far, the biggest issue in the case of group travel is the number of accompanying teachers available.

4. Distribution according to languages and target countries

Based on the language learning habits and the distribution of school leaving language exams, it was expected to have a very high number of students wishing to practise English. Thus not surprisingly, 80% of all language learners indicated their intention to travel to English speaking countries, 17% of them to German speaking countries and 2.5% of them to France. It must be stressed that this data is not definitive as students may decide to opt for another language in view of the actual supply of language courses.
With regards to individual travels the survey only asked for answers in connection with the study year and the chosen language of the student.

Institutions and students have been advised not to have strong preferences towards specific target countries before the course offers of the language schools are made public (demand should be adjusted to the capacity of the language schools). Accordingly, 46 % of the students travelling to English or German speaking countries (where more than one country can be selected) have not indicated any preference yet. Among those who have, 27% said they would like to travel to the UK (approx. 21 000 students), followed by Malta (10% – 8000 students – which means places will be likely to fill quickly). Germany is the 3rd most popular destination with 7% (approx. 5700 students.)

5. Group travel: language learning course or shared language learning project with a partner institution

The majority (96%) of public educational institutions are planning to take their students for courses offered by language centres. Solely those institutions are considering the option of shared language learning project who already have a partnership agreement with another institution.

6. Planned dates of travel

A high percentage (38%) planning to travel in groups is yet uncertain about which dates to choose in the summer break. Those having a preference mainly indicated July as their preferred option (38%), mostly due to the workload of the school leaving exams in June and the back-to-school preparations in August.

7. Planned means of travel

When asked, the majority of the respondents indicated a preference to travel by airplane, which – in the case of farther destinations such as the UK, Ireland or far away parts of Germany, France – is clearly the most convenient option. However, the Hungarian railway company, MÁV, have confirmed their willingness to cooperate in the project, so it will be advised for participants to use the convenient, eco-friendly railway services for distances under 1000 km.