2 Research Objectives, Hypotheses and Methodology
2.3 Primary Research Sample – Source of Data and Method of Collection
Two separate data samples are employed in the dissertation. The main primary data sample is to test hypotheses, then an additional research was conducted to define specific recommendations in line with the improvement of the mobility programs, their popularity
and participation. The source of data and the related projects for the recommendations are described in the section 2.3.2.
2.3.1 Primary Data for Hypothesis Testing
Among the research techniques, the study used the survey method through close structured questionnaires to obtain data from the two major target groups: non-mobile higher education students without international experience and mobile higher education students who participated in a short-term international learning mobility program such as Erasmus+. Based on the group differences and the data associations, the effect of mobility can be determined (Brandenburg et al., 2014). The survey was shared online in Hungarian (in Hungary), English (in Albania, Malta and Portugal) and Russian (in Russia) languages in order to get the highest possible number of responses and ease the proper filling in case of less advanced language skills. The three different Google Forms were active for approximately 2 months, from the 26th of June, 2018 to the 30th of August 2018.
The survey was adapted from the European Commission’s EU Survey, the official (Erasmus+) Participant Report Form – Call 2017 – KA1 – Learning Mobility of Individuals – Student Mobility for Studies in Higher Education (Document code: EP-KA1-HE-Studies-2017) and augmented to suit to the research objectives of this study.
The distributed questionnaire consisted of 15 questions which included questions relating to demography of research participants, future plans and orientations, a control question to identify and divide the two major target groups. The three matrix/rating scale questions was intended to gauge attitudes, values, and opinions on Likert scale – that is the most commonly used type of measurement tool in such cases.
The survey began by asking the respondents their demographic characteristics such as;
gender, age, nationality, ongoing or highest completed degree program. This was accompanied by questions which focused on the future plans (employment, residence, participation in mobility) and finally, attitudinal self-assessment through three matrixes which represented three different categories in the following way. The first matrix rated the outcomes of higher education studies (domestic or international) along attitudinal, educational and cultural values. The second matrix measured the worth of studies on the labour market, the ease of getting a job or trainee position. The third matrix assessed those skills, where participants think that they need further development in order to succeed in their professional life in the future.
The study employed snowball sampling (also known as chain-referral sampling) method to reach a wider range of respondents including Hungarian and other foreign higher education institutions all over and even beyond Europe thanks to fellow researchers and international student organizations such as the Erasmus Student Network.
The 5 most represented countries have been included in the research which accounts for 1339 respondents in total. The less represented countries have been excluded from the analyses in order to provide more meaningful country specific research results. From the 50 countries of Europe (European Union, 2018), it means 10% representativity, while each of the European civilizations (Huntington, 1993) is represented: Western Christian:
Hungary, Portugal, Malta; Orthodox Christian: Russia; Islamic: Albania (Islamic majority with considerable Orthodox Christian minority) (Fox, 2002).
The downloaded data sheets have been merged into one dataset, transformed and coded to a convenient computer-ready form. The coding techniques used are presented in Table 2 below. Apart from the first section that used scale and nominal measurement for age and multiple-choice questions, the matrixes had five (Likert scale) statements which was ranked from 1 to five as described below:
Missing data 111
Strongly agree 5
Rather agree 4
Neither agree nor disagree 3
Rather disagree 2
Strongly disagree 1
Table 2: Rating Scale Used in the Survey
2.3.2 The Source of Data for Recommendations
The recommendations are based on the demands of the target group and other stakeholders of international mobility. The data was collected from several sources and contributed to different targeted projects and consultations on local, national and European levels to improve mobility participation, experience and impact where the researcher participated actively to arrive at the data collected. The processes are explained below:
1. Specific policy recommendations were drawn within the framework of the Erasmus+
Generation Declaration project of the European Commission. The data was collected using the online platform "Erasmus+ Generation Online Meeting Point" (EGOMP, 2017), where thousands of former Erasmus+ participants were actively debating the necessary changes of the Programme from 19.09.2017 to 31.10.2017. The appointed national discussion leaders organized, discussed and concluded the collected data, then formed into 30 concrete proposals that reflect the Erasmus+ Generation's vision and priorities for the future of the programme beyond 2020 (European Commission, 2017a).
The results were presented in the European Parliament (30.11.2017. in Brussels, Belgium), published as The Erasmus+ Generational Declaration (Holicza et al., 2017;
European Commission, 2017b) and embedded in the recommendations of the dissertation.
2. Online questionnaire was distributed and structured dialogue consultations were organized with the involvement of over 1000 participants: European higher education students who are experienced or interested in international mobility participation. The research was conducted with the direct involvement of the author, within the framework of the Erasmus Upgrade project of the Erasmus Student Network (ESN) and the Flemish National Agency for Youth in Action in 2017. The goal of the international project was to create a Manifesto, a document with clear objectives and recommendations for the future of student mobility and the Erasmus Programme (ESN, 2017).
The results were presented on the Erasmus Upgrade Conference (6-12.10.2017. in Brussels, Belgium), published in the Manifesto (ESN, 2018) and embedded in the recommendations of the dissertation.
3. The online working group meetings (carried out in April, 2018) with the representatives of associations that are interested in the improvement of international mobility such as Erasmus Mundus Association, Erasmus Student Network, garagErasmus Foundation etc. contributed to several points of recommendations. The outcomes were introduced on the Erasmus: What’s next? European States General 2018 organized by the Agenzia Nazionale Erasmus+ Indire on 09.05.2018 in Rome,
Italy, where 200 university students from all over Europe participated and voted on the best proposals (INDIRE, 2018).