Does Reputation Matter? Case Study of Undergraduate Choice at a Premier University
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The changing facets of the Malaysian higher education created market-based competition among higher education institutions. With increasing competition in the higher education environment, a clearer understanding of why and how students choose universities is more important to help universities develop their marketing strategies. This paper investigates the reasons for pursuing higher education and the key factors influencing their decision to study at university. This paper also considers the issue of whether the lower fees and reputation of a premier university is adequate to attract the best students. The data from a sample of 1st-year undergraduate students enrolled in various courses at the University of Malaya were analysed using coherence analysis and logistic regression. The study infers latent factors affecting university choice and uses a model that allows the interaction of these multiple factors. The findings suggest that career prospects and reputation of the University and its programmes were the most important factors in the students’ decision of a place to further studies. Significant others in the life of the student as well as the student’s own desire for personal development are strong influences that lead the student to consider reputation of the University. While the reputation of the University of Malaya is extremely important, the lower fee structure plays an important role in university choice. The university needs to be proactive in recruiting students. The marketing of educational services is important, both to create a favourable image and as well to successfully recruit the best students.
KeywordsUniversity choice Higher education Student recruitment Competition University reputation
This research is funded by University of Malaya under Fundamental Research Grant Scheme (FS174/2008A).
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