Recent years have seen increased efforts of Hungarian tertiary educational institutions to internationalise their educational activities. As well as the expected enhancement of academic reputation and the generation of income, these activities are triggered by governmental policies and strategies, namely the expectations towards a substantial rise in the ratio of international students at Hungarian institutions of higher education. Internationalisation is supported by the expansion of scholarship programmes available for foreign students, for example the Stipendium Hungaricum Programme, which was brought to life by a government decree in 2013 and amended in 2015. The aim of the study reported in the paper is to explore the motivations of Stipendium Hungaricum scholarship holders studying at the University of Győr (Széchenyi István University), Hungary as well as the challenges they face in an academic environment more often than not quite different from that in their home countries. The paper first briefly introduces the programme and overviews the results of Hungarian nationwide surveys on foreign students in general and Stipendium Hungaricum scholarship holders in particular. Then it moves on to discuss the findings of structured interviews carried out among master- and bachelor-level full-time Stipendium Hungaricum scholarship students at the University of Győr. The discussion focuses on three topics: (1) What motivated these students to apply for a relatively young rural university rather than more established rural universities or those located in the capital? (2) What aspects of instruction do they consider different from those in their home institutions? (3) What are their plans after graduation? The findings are believed to contribute to the better understanding of cross-cultural differences as well as to the creation of more effective international promotional campaigns.
Keywords: internationalisation of higher education, student motivations, challenges