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Asia Pacific Management Review (2003) 8(3),259-280

An Exploratory Study of Factors Influencing the
College Choice Decision of Undergraduate
Students in Malaysia
Samsinar Md. Sidin*, Siti Rahayu Hussin** and Tan Ho Soon***
The higher education services industry in Malaysia has been given a boost in the 1990s
by the Government’s policy liberalization and quite ironically, the Asian financial crisis. More
students are now opting to study locally instead of going abroad. However, with the myriad of
institutions and courses around, it is very difficult to understand how students select colleges of
their choice.
This study seeks to explore the criteria with which students select their tertiary institutions. In essence, we would try to establish the ranking of variables thought to be important for
college selection. Also, the degree of influence by external sources on students’ decisions would also be gauged.
A total of 210 respondents from the Klang Valley were surveyed in this study. They comprised first-year undergraduate students from four public universities and four private establishments. The data collected from the survey was analyzed using the SPSS programme. A series of analyses, including descriptive and factor analysis were conducted on the data.
The results validated three of the four hypotheses of the research. It confirms that student selection of colleges actually depends on several criteria, including academic quality, facilities, campus surroundings, and personal characteristics. It also validates the contention that income affects the choice of students along the public-private education divide
Keywords: consumer decision-making ,influence, college choice

1. Introduction
The 1990's have been an exciting period for educational establishments
in Malaysia. The fast-changing educational services scene in this country has
been most breathtaking. Even the most casual observers would have noticed
the mushrooming of private tertiary institutions offering a myriad range of
courses. The already robust scene has been given quite ironically, a further
boost by the recent Asian financial crisis (in late 1997 and 1998), which grounded the dreams of many students planning to study abroad. These students
*

Associate Professor and Head, Department of Management and Marketing, Faculty of
Economics and Management, Universiti Putra Malaysia, Serdang.
**
Lecturer, Department of Management and Marketing, Faculty of Economics and
Management, Universiti Putra Malaysia, Serdang.
***
Former MBA student at Malaysian Graduate School of Management, Universiti Putra
Malaysia, Serdang.

259

Samsinar Md. Sidin, Siti Rahayu Hussin and Tan Ho Soon

have turned toward local colleges and universities for further studies. Nevertheless, proprietors and managers of local institutions are still complaining
about stiff contention for students and faculty staff. The competition seems
certain to heat up with the government's liberalization move in allowing the
market entry of foreign universities to Malaysia.
The government of Malaysia, in particular the Ministry of Education
(MOE), has of late been trying to transform Malaysia into a center of excellence for education. Pursuant to this goal, certain policies with regards the educational systems were liberalized. These include the licensing of private institutions of higher learning to confer baccalaureate degrees and to conduct
courses in collaboration with foreign universities. A direct repercussion of
such liberalization has been the mushrooming of private higher educational
establishments throughout the country. The main benefactors seem to be big
corporations such as Tenaga Nasional Bhd, Telekom Malaysia and Petronas.
These corporations have jumped onto the education bandwagon as the educational services industry promises potentially lucrative returns. They also
have the necessary resources and funding to set up campuses and faculties
across the country.
Nevertheless, smaller colleges and establishments have also benefited
from the growing trend of private education. Many of these colleges have
been in existence for the past decade or even longer, although some have
been set up more recently to take advantage of the relaxation of government
policies.
1.1 Problem Statement
Tertiary education is arguably a high-involvement product [6]. For
many students and their parents, it represents a substantial investment in
monetary and temporal terms. Hence, we might safely deduce that prospective students and their sponsors would look carefully into the options
available in the market.
The present financial crisis and economic downturn in Malaysia had
ballooned the cost of studying overseas, hence preventing many students
from going abroad. As such, it is a blessing in disguise for private local
colleges and universities, which are swarmed by anxious students and their
parents. Nonetheless, the scenario is far from plain sailing for the colleges
because they also face immense competition amongst their own.
Educational marketers must therefore attempt to answer some fundam-

260

how would students (and their sponsors) come to a purchase decision? On what criteria would they appraise their options? These questions parallel a common marketing question: how do consumers select a particular product or service? The role of attracting consumers to a product and having those consumers make a purchase is the most important function of marketing. To determine the importance and degree of influence of these external sources of information. To determine whether demographic factors influence college choice 1. Sidin. the less likely students would be opting for private establishments. the more likely the student would choose public institutions. 1.3 Hypotheses Hypothesis 1 Gender and ethnicity are not likely to directly affect students' college choice decision. Siti Rahayu Hussin and Tan Ho Soon ental questions: why do students select a particular college or university from the large number of alternatives? In evaluating the many options available to them. To explore factors influencing in college decision making. Hypothesis 4 Student’s perception of various college and academic characteristics influence higher college choice decision. The higher the pre-university qualification. Hypothesis 2 The family income of students is likely to affect the college choice decision in terms of public-private institutions. Hypothesis 3 Student's college choice decision is affected by the highest university academic qualification attained thus far. 3.Samsinar Md. 2. 261 .2 Objectives The objectives of this study are: 1. Colleges and universities often accomplish this function without recognizing it as a marketing application [7]. The lower the average family income.

financial aid. namely: 1. Academic reputation of institution 3. and value for money (cost /benefit analysis). perceived good job after graduation. The marketability of the degree conferred 4. which resulted in the clustering of ten criteria for students selecting a college. During the first stage – college aspiration formation . They must decide whether to go to college. and so on. students begin to acquire information regarding the college attributes that are particularly important to them in deciding which college/university to consider attending. socially. Sidin. Academic programmes available 2.search and application.1 Decision-making Process College/university choice has been viewed as a three-stage decision process [3.2 College Selection Criteria For service marketers. what to major in. students compare and evaluate their preferred alternatives in terms of college attributes most important to them. primary and secondary schools (to a large extent). Student choice is a basic and integral part of theory and research on higher education. students enter the third-stage . students enter the second stage . [9] reported that the choice of which college to enroll in depends on five components: academic programs offered. For unlike elementary. which college to enroll in. which courses to take. Students were found to select those colleges that match their selection criteria academically. leadership opportunities in college. 4].actual selection and attendance. This phase ends with the final attendance or enrollment decision [8]. Sometime after college aspirations are formed. it is critical to understand which cues or attributes of the service offerings are valued most in the decision making process of current and potential customers.Samsinar Md. During this phase.students develop the predisposition or intention to continue their education beyond secondary level. and financially [2]. post-secondary students have the freedom to choose [10]. After their application and the colleges' acceptance. This phase ends when students decided to apply to a particular set of institutions. At this stage. 2. Literature Review 2. [11] did a survey using a 52-item questionnaire. Siti Rahayu Hussin and Tan Ho Soon 2. Faculty contact time 262 .

263 . [5]showed that six factors that are important to students were: 1. Completion time 10. and flexible entry requirements. In a study on service quality in higher education. educational facilities and the faculty members are some of these components. Some of these factors were convenient and accessible location. In another study by [1]. community in which college is located. Campus employment 7. Financial aids 8. ‘Physical aspects’ include the quality of facilities for academic. Geographical location (of institution) 6. Accreditations 6. recreational activites. degree flexibility. Sidin. Library size Seventeen college image components were identified in a study using students at Ball State University [2]. Program issues 2. Career opportunities 5. Siti Rahayu Hussin and Tan Ho Soon 5. Placement reputation 9. Time (i. ‘Academic reputation’ refers to the prestige of the degree conferred. These components were researched by measuring the importance of each in predicting a student's selection of a college or university. Physical aspects 4. and recreation. such as whether it is recognized nationality or internationally.Samsinar Md. Academic reputation 3. sports. types of academic programmes. duration of studies) The ‘program issues’ category comprises the availability of specialist programmes. and overall quality of education. accommodation.e. twenty-nine college image components were identified in a study of university students at the University of North Alabama These components were investigated by measuring the importance of each in predicting a student's selection of a college or university. Quality of education. availability of several course options.

The first section consisted of questions pertaining to the demographic as well as background information.7 91.0 31.8 65 31. means and percentages. Methodology A survey was conducted using first year students at public and private universities in Klang Valley as the respondents.1 100. Some of the descriptive statistics used include frequencies. Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) software was used in the analysis of primary data.8 3. Research Findings 4.0 Source: Survey Table 2 Respondent Profile: Age Below 18 18 and 19 20 and 21 22 and 23 24 and above Total Frequency Percent Valid Cumulative Percent Percent 8 3.1 Respondents' Personal Characteristics Table 1 Respondent Profile: Gender Frequency Percent Valid Cumulative Percent Percent Male 88 14.0 34.7 15.0 Source: Survey The breakdown of respondents by their gender.4 41. home- 264 .1 58. Other statistical analyses used in this study were Chi-square analysis and factor analysis. The questionnaire was divided into two sections.0 100.2 33 15.0 100. The second part of the questionnaire included the semantic differential (SD) Scale on college selection criteria. Convenience sampling was used as the sampling method.1 8.9 Female 122 58.9 17 8. Siti Rahayu Hussin and Tan Ho Soon 3.8 3.Samsinar Md.1 100 Total 210 100.0 210 100.9 41.4 76.9 41. ethnicity.8 87 41. Enumerators were trained and hired to conduct face-face interview with these students. Sidin. 4. age. Questionnaires were distributed to 90 public universities and 110 private institutions students.

8 100.2 32.0 36. In private colleges we surveyed. (41.7% are between 22 and 23.8 100. As shown on the table above.2 4.1%) to 88 (41.8 60.9%) has attained passes in Sijil Tinggi Pelajaran Malaysia (STPM) or GCE A-levels. Interestingly.2 4.0% were 18 and 19 years old.4 100.4%) were Indians.0 88. A sizable percentage (32.2% of the sample population were 21 or younger.Samsinar Md.6%) were ethnic Malay students. academic background. 76. female respondents outnumbered males by 122 (or 58.2%) cited the Sijil Pendidikan Malaysia (SPM) or GCE O-levels. and 15.0 6. 6.0 Valid Cumulative Percent Percent 28. while 24 (11. Sidin.0 95. These students were 265 .) 20% of the respondents have had a Diploma.0 6.2% of the respondents were university graduates (with bachelors degrees).0 Source: Survey In terms of the highest academic qualification attained.4 100.4%). (STPM was the traditional university-entry qualification benchmark in Malaysia.6 11. and institutions.0 89. Table 3 Respondent Profile: Ethnicity Frequency Percent Malay Chinese Indian Total 60 126 24 210 28. 60 respondents (28.6 60.0 Source: Survey 126 (or 60%) of the respondents were ethnic Chinese students.9 20.2 69. 31. appear in this section. Frequency and percentage measures are used in reporting figures.0 100.9 20. 8.6 28. The higher number of Chinese student respondents was purely by chance.2 32.9%) The majority of the respondents were 20 or 21 years old.0 11. Siti Rahayu Hussin and Tan Ho Soon tates.1% were 24 to 28 years old. most students (36.0 36. mostly from private colleges.2 100. Chinese students form the bulk of student population Table 4 Respondent Profile: Academic Qualification Valid F5/SPM/O-level F6/STPM/A-level Diploma Bachelors degree Others Total Frequency Percent Valid Percent Cumulative Percent 76 69 42 13 10 210 36.

1 18.6% of the respondents reported earning a monthly family income of between RM1.9% would receive their di- 266 . notably professional qualifications or general certificates.5 69.500.9%) would be conferred masters degree upon graduating. four respondents (1.6 50.4 2. Sidin.4 22.4 Masters degree 4 1.8% of students have other forms of qualification.Samsinar Md.8 89.9 Bachelors degree 146 69.9 12.8% mentioned their family incomes exceed RM4. 53.9 1. 4.0 100.0 100.7 5. 24.1 20.9 94.1% of the sample population would receive certificates or other professional accreditations on graduation. 8.0 Source: Survey 37.501 to RM4. Siti Rahayu Hussin and Tan Ho Soon mostly enrolled in public universities for the Diploma in Education course.0 100. A further 12.5% would be conferred diplomas or advanced diplomas upon completing their courses.3 Others 12 5.2 College Choice Decision Factors Table 6 College Choice Decision Factors Profile: Type of Diploma/Degree Conferred Frequency Percent Valid Cumulative Percent Percent Certificate 5 2. They also form the majority of older students in our survey.5 Advanced/HigherDiploma 5 2.8 11.8 75.5% of the students surveyed were enrolled in courses leading up to a bachelor degree. 20. Table 5 Respondent Profile: Monthly Family Income Frequency Percent RM1000 or Less RM1001 to RM2500 RM2501 to RM4000 RM4001 to RM6000 RM6001 or more total 27 79 52 29 23 210 12.8 13.8% reported incomes of RM2. 24.0 100.6 24.7 100.9 37.5 92. Interestingly.000.000.2 13. 4.4 Diploma 38 18.4 2.5 24.001 and RM2.0 Source: Survey 69.4 2.0 Valid Cumulative Percent Percent 12.9 37.0 11.8% of the respondents reported that their degrees would be confered by local (Malaysian) universities.0 Total 210 100.

Hence. Table 7 College Choice Decision Factors’ Profile: Institution Conferring Diploma/Degree Frequency Percent Valid Cumulative Percent Percent Local College/institution 27 12.0 100.7% said they required two to four weeks to decide. and only 13.9% visited their institutions only once.0 98.9 Local university 113 53.5 28 13. Sidin.7 Foreign college/university 65 31.6 49. 66. One respondent cited visiting his college 10 times before enrolling.0 Source: Survey The majority of respondents (37.9 17. A significant pro.0 100. An equal percentage of students (31% each) reported making up their minds to enroll in an institution within a week and between one to two weeks. Almost all of those who reported visiting their colleges more than twice only did so three or four times.4%) needed more than four weeks to 267 .portion of those surveyed (21.9 12. Siti Rahayu Hussin and Tan Ho Soon plomas or degrees from local colleges and institutions.1 100.8 66.1%) reportedly never visited their present institutions prior to enrollment. 17.1 100.3 13.0 97.0 37.6 Others 3 1.6% reported visiting twice.0 Total 210 100.9 31. however.0 1.4 1.3 62. 16.Samsinar Md.0 Source: Survey Table 8 College Choice Decision Factors' Profile: Number of Visits to Institution Prior to Enrollment Frequency Percent Once Twice More than twice Never Visited Total 67 37 Valid Cumulative Percent Percent 31. 31.6 17.4 100.6 Local branch of foreign institution 2 1. 31% of the respondents would have their degrees conferred by foreign universities.0 31.3% visited their institutions more than twice.9 31. Such extreme was.9 12.7% of the sample population would in other words graduate with a local degree.8 53. a misnomer.9 78 210 37.

4 21.5 93.7% of the surveyed students reportedly made the final decision to enroll in a particular institution themselves.4 100.7 91.4 1.0 100. corporate bodies.7 16.7 15.0 61.7 78.7 15.Samsinar Md.2 5.7 75. Through this analysis. Only 3.4 Sibling(s)/relative(s) 3 1. 1996) that ‘purchasing education’ is a high-involvement decision. The latter were mostly students on government scholarships. or others. relatives. Sidin.0 100. Siti Rahayu Hussin and Tan Ho Soon decide.4 100.3 Factor & Cluster Analyses Factor analysis was conducted to explore the major factors considered in decision making regarding college choice. Table 9 College Choice Decision Factors' Profile: Length of Time to Make Decision Within one Week Between one and two weeks Between two and four weeks More than four weeks Total Total Frequency Percent Valid Cumulative Percent Percent 65 31.0 210 100.0 Source : Survey 75.0 31. This seems to support the contention (Kotler.7% reported that their parents made the final decision.9 35 16.4 92.3 Government institution 11 5. 5.0 31.3% mentioned that the final choice was made by their siblings.2% said that the choice of institution was decided for them by the government. 15.9 Corporate body 1 0.0 Source: Survey Table 10 College Choice Decision Factors’ Profile: Individual Making the Final Decision Frequency Percent Valid Cumulative Percent Percent Parent(s) 33 15.0 65 31. 4.0 31.2 98.7 Yourself 159 75.6 Others 3 1. five 268 .5 0.0 Total 210 100.4 1.6 45 21.

894 11 0. Sidin.567 2 1.428 69.592 2.940 100.Samsinar Md.060 20 0.542 12.000 Source: Survey Data Analysis The first factor component as shown in the Table above explains 15.956 7 0.532 2.113 15.764 64.087 18 0.109 92.330 90.711 3.770 3.529 97. Table 11 presents rotated sums of squared loadings of the various factors.621 3.00 were selected.71%.791 8.394 1.336 1.192 6 0. Table 11 Total Variance Explained Initial Rotated sum of square loadings Factors Total % of variance Cumulative % Total % of variance Cumulative % 1 6.306 1.653 8.998 14 0.886 4.586 4 1.710 43. Only factors with Eigenvalues of more than 1. Similarly.659 85.612 3.384 8 0.265 60. 8. These components represent 60.265% of the total variance respectively.31%.422 2.188 0. Each of the factors having multiple values is grouped under the iteration where it has the highest value.192% of the variance. third.567% of the variance.140 55.679 96.567 3. Siti Rahayu Hussin and Tan Ho Soon major components were extracted from the 20 variables.668 8.961 82.436 16 0.236 9 0.877 3 1.497 2. and 8.340 51.443 99.669 8.103 79. 12.484 87.513 13 0.791 10 0. Each of the five factor components was given a name depending on the general characteristics of the factors that fall within it.972 94.310 30.927 5 1. the five factor components explained 60.055 1.347 48.408 17 0. the second.34%.852 73.914 2.062 15.322 31. Table 12 below shows the rotated component matrix using the extraction method of Principal Component Analysis. fourth.192 1.289 1.027 5.327 15 0. and fifth factor components explain 15.567 15. 269 .955 40.466 2. Altogether.612 31.855 12 0.192% of the variance.953 4.228 6.616 19 0.555 76.137 60.

That. The sec- 270 .732 Procedure and policies 0. 'Tuition fees'. 'Time required for completion'. and 'Marketability of degree'.663 0. hence the word 'personal'.471 0. 'Availability of part-time studies'.571 Extra-curricular activities 0.446 0.327 Tuition fees 0. 'Entry requirements'. 'Job opportunities'.567% of the variance. There are seven variables in this factor component namely.664 Campus location 0. Together. 'Availability of course'.427 0.300 are considered.347 Quality of teaching 0.876 Campus attractiveness 0.417 0.311 Scholarship/financial aid 0.311 Marketability of degree 0.783 Library collection 0.324 Time required for completion 0.316 Programme structure 0. however. Only sum of squared loadings of more than .458 0.472 0. Sidin.674 0. each given an 'interpretative' name.309 0. The first college choice decision factor has been named "Personal factors". qualifies all the variables (as their values have exceed . The choice for this name stems from the fact that every student has his or her own set of circumstances quite independent from the others.300).342 0.Samsinar Md. they account for 15.308 0. Siti Rahayu Hussin and Tan Ho Soon Table 12 Rotated Component Matrix Component 1 2 3 4 5 Job opportunities 0.616 Entry requirements 0.651 0.767 Institution’s reputation 0.666 Opportunity to meet friends 0.400 0.822 Number of students 0.358 Availability of part-time studies 0.681 Availability of courses 0.566 Extraction Method: Principal Component Analysis Rotation Method: Varimax with Kaiser Normalization Source: Survey Data Analysis Table 13 below presents the five factor components as derived from the Varimax rotation method of factor analysis.320 Campus size and layout 0.739 Facilities 0.

"Campus" • Campus size and layout • Campus attractiveness • Number of students 4. and 'Number of students'. 'Campus attractiveness'.34% of the variance. This last component explains 8.265% of the total variance. The third group. The fourth factor – “Socialization” -. "Academic quality & facilities" • Quality of teaching • Library collection • Institution's reputation • Facilities • Programme structure 3. 'Program structure' and 'Facilities'. The second factor group explains 15.71% of the variance. The fifth factor includes variables such as 'Scholarship/financial aid and 'Procedures and policies'. Siti Rahayu Hussin and Tan Ho Soon Table 13 College Choice Decision Factors & Variables College choice decision factor College choice decision variables 1.Samsinar Md. is named "Campus" as it contains variables such as 'Campus size and layout'. 'Institution's reputation'. "Financial aid and procedures" • Sholarship/financial aid • Procedures and policies Source: Survey Data Analysis ond factor has been named "Academic quality and facilities” to reflect variables such as 'Quality of teaching'. 271 . which represents 12. Sidin.refers to extra-curricular activities on campus as well as the opportunity to meet friends. "Socialization" • Extra-curricular activities • Opportunity to meet friends 5. 'Library collection'.31% of the total variance. It represents 8. This refers to the availability (or not) of financial support plus the ease of which to enroll in the college. "Personal factors" • Job opportunities • Availability of course • Time required for compietion • Tuition fees • Entry requirements • Availability of partÄtime studies • Marketability of degree 2.

Television and radio seem to have the least influence among the ten sources on students' college choice decision. and the marketability of degree in selecting their colleges.21 Newspapers 3. The lowest ranking variable (with a mean 272 . Students appear to be very concerned about the quality of teaching. The ranking of various variables that affect the college selection of students. the institution's reputation.08 Education fairs 2. A ranking of the degree of influence by external sources on the college choice decision.88 School teachers 2.4 Comparison of Means The comparison of means would allow us to establish the following: 1. Newspapers and educational fairs came in third and fourth respectively.50 Parents & relatives 3. and third respectively.72 Friends & schoolmates 3.Samsinar Md. Parents and relatives also seem to be very influential over the decision. Friends and schoolmates appear to have the greatest influence over students in making a college choice.70 Magazines 2. as these three variables rank first. and 2. Sidin.90 College counselors & representatives 2. second.57 Secondary school counselor 2. Siti Rahayu Hussin and Tan Ho Soon 4. Job opportunities (related to marketability of degree) and tuitions fees also seem to be important considerations to the students.43 Television & radio Source: Survey Data Analysis Note: 5 – Very influential 1 – Not influential at all Table 14 above shows the ranking of the degree of influence of external sources on students' college choice decision.92 College promotional material 2. ranking at fifth and sixth place respectively. Table 15 above only lists the top ten variables that influence students' college choice decision. Table 14 Ranking of Degree of Influence by External Sources Ranking 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Sources of influence Mean value Sources of influence 3. College promotional material and representatives have a moderate influence over students.

05 (or 95% confidence interval). the less likely students would be opting for private establishments. The Chi-square analysis in Table 17 above shows significant relationship between income levels and the choice of colleges.20 Marketability of degree 4. This supposedly did not concern the respondents as they were all full-time. Sidin.03 Time required for completion 4.55 Institution's reputation 4. the significant values from the Chi-square test were significant since they are lower then 0.19 Job opportunities 4.e.99 Entry requirements 3. the lower income group would more likely opt for public institutions.e. Hypothesis 2 The family income of students is likely to affect the college choice decision in terms of public-private institutions.86 * Other lower-ranking (i.16 Tuition fees 4.11 Program structure 4.58) was the availability of part-time studies. This provides su- 273 . As Table 18 shows. The lower the average family income. The higher income group was more likely to choose private education. We therefore may conclude that Hypothesis 1 is supported . gender and ethnicity are not likely to directly affect students' college choice decisions. Source: Survey Data Analysis Note: 5 – Very important 1 – Not important at all 4. Siti Rahayu Hussin and Tan Ho Soon value of 2.00 Availability of courses 3. i. Particularly.5 Cross-Tabulations & Chi-Square Tests Hypotheses Testing Hypothesis 1 Gender and ethnicity are not likely to affect students' college choice decision.Samsinar Md. less influential) factors have been left out. Table 15 Ranking of Variables Influencing College Choice Decision by Importance: Top Ten Factors 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Variables influencing college choice Mean value Quality of teaching 4.01 Facilities 4.

Chi-square Significance Gender Male Female Ethnicity Malay Chinese Indian 84 25 59 84 21 53 10 126 63 63 126 39 73 14 8.479 0. Inst.511 0.Samsinar Md. The higher the pre-university qualification.112) as shown in Table 18 above indicates that Hypothesis 3 cannot be supported.122 SPM/O level 13 63 STPM/Ä level 54 15 Diploma 2 40 Bachelors 13 0 Others 2 8 Source: Survey The significance value (0. Table 16 College Choice by Gender and Ethnicity Variables Public. it cannot be proven that students with higher pre-university qualifications would choose public instit- 274 . Siti Rahayu Hussin and Tan Ho Soon pport for the Hypothesis 2. the more likely the student would choose public institutions. Chi-square Significance 84 126 30.036 15 12 45 34 18 34 4 25 2 21 Source: Survey Hypothesis 3 Student's college choice decision is affected by the highest pre-university academic qualification attained thus far.636 0. Table 18 College Choice by Pre-University Academic Qualification Variables Public Inst.395 0. Private Inst.047 Source: Survey Table 17 College Choice by Family Income Variables Family income <RM1000 RM1000-2500 RM2501-4000 RM4001-6000 >RM6001 Public Inst. Chi-square Significance Qualification 84 126 2. Statistically. Sidin.035 7. Private Inst. Private Inst.

Siti Rahayu Hussin and Tan Ho Soon utions over private establishments.231 1. and more students with only SPM/O-level qualifications chose private colleges instead.202 0.449 9.457 9.835 28. Hypothesis 4 Student's perception of various college and academic characteristics influence his/her college choice decision.074 0.205 0.947 1.062 0.205 0.234 9.365 0.053 0.076 0.339 5.189 1.599 15.096 0.100 0. The four items are: Facilities 275 .365 0.252 0.959 9. we see that more students with STPM/A-level chose public universities instead of private ones.048 0.659 8.887 Significance 0.125 0.366 14.216 1.035 0. at a glance.176 * Statistically significant factors Source: Survey Table 19 above presents a summary of the results of cross-tabulating each characteristic with students' choice decisions.303 6.Samsinar Md.301 0. However. Sidin.374 9.748 4. Four items were shown to be statistically significant in affecting college choice decision.356 1. Table 19 Chi-Square Results of College Choice Decision by Various College Characteristics Charateristics Institution's reputation Library collection Facilities* Quality of teaching Procedures and policies* Scholarship/financial aid Availability of courses Time required for completion Tuition fees Job opportunities Programme structure Entry requirements* Availability of part-time studies Campus location Campus size and layout Campus attractiveness Number of students Extra-curricular activities* Opportunity to meet friends Marketability of degree Chi-square 12.044 0.145 0.207 1.031 0.404 3.

A significant proportion (31.26%). 84. 61. 31. and ‘Financial aid and procedures. These factors were named ‘Personal’. Newspapers were found to be more influential relative to television and radio.9% of students made their decision to enroll in a college within two weeks. and relatives do not seem to play a major role in gathering information for most respondents. Hypothesis 1 was supported whereby gender and ethnicity are proven not likely to affect students' college choice decision.9% says they paid only one visit to their colleges. In terms of gathering information about their colleges. parents and relatives were some of the sources of influence on students’ college choice decision making. ‘Factors’. ‘Socialization’. Parents. Sidin. Hypothesis 2 is also supported whereby the income of the student's immediate family is likely to affect the college choice decision in terms of public-private institutions. Respondents from the lower family income group are less likely to enroll in pri- 276 .Samsinar Md. and another 31% mentioned making decision between one to two weeks. ‘Campus’.1 Major Findings It was found that students with only SPM qualification mostly opted for private institutions of higher learning. Discussion on Findings & Conclusion 5. it proves that the decision to enroll in a particular college depends on more than one factor.3% reported gathering the information themselves. Most students have not visited their institutions prior to enrollment. About 31% each said they decided to enroll within one week. Siti Rahayu Hussin and Tan Ho Soon Procedures and policies Entry requirements Extra-curricular activities This result supports hypothesis 4 by showing the significance of various college characteristics in influencing the choice of college. siblings. explaining 61% of the total variance were identified. 5.9%) also relied wholly or partially on friends in gathering information. This is understandable as usually public universities only accept candidates with STPM qualification. A ranking of means revealed that friends and schoolmates. In other words. mostly chose public universities (78. Five factors. Students with STPM however. ‘Academic Quality and Facilities’.

education fairs and nationwide tours by college representatives are also important sources of information for pot- 277 . Hypothesis 3 is rejected. There is a significant bias in students from higher income families enrolling in private establishments. it has also witnessed greater participation of Malaysians regardless of their ethnicity and gender. many students and parents are complaining about the poor quality of certain programs offered at a few private colleges. Sidin. has taken momentous strides in liberalizing the educational services industry by encouraging competition amongst operators in public as well as private sectors. the percentage of 1924 year olds in tertiary education was only 3. By 2020. desirous of turning Malaysia into a center of excellence for education. or worse still misrepresented. It cannot be proven that the college choice decision is affected by the highest preuniversity academic qualification thus far attained by the student. Letters to the editors in our major dailies often highlight the plight of tertiary students in being unfairly treated.2 Implications The Government. The effect of this effort is not just the setting up of more institutions of higher learning. A large proportion also rely on friends and family members for information. procedures and policies and entry requirements are some of the significant factors influencing college choice. Siti Rahayu Hussin and Tan Ho Soon vate institutions. it has risen to 12%. 5. Besides. Television and radio are proven to be less influential in students' college choice decision. In 1995. in tertiary education. the Government hopes the percentage will increase to 40%. 84. For one. It may well be as students usually pour through written material in getting information on higher education.5%. As newspapers are proven to be very influential source of information.Samsinar Md. The rapid expansion and mushrooming of educational institutions is not without its problems. by their universities or colleges. particularly the younger generation. college operators should utilize this media to the fullest possible. in line with that of advanced countries. These college operators should also be concerned with the fees charged as it was found that family income does affect college choice between public and private institutions.3% of the students gather college information on their own. There is no significant support for the premise that students with higher academic qualifications would choose to enroll in public universities. In 1999. The irresponsibility of the college operators drew wrath and scorns form a cross-section of the Malaysian public. Hypothesis 4 was partially supported with the findings that factors such as facilities.

The way the questionnaire was worded may actually skew the answers of the respondents. samples were only drawn from university and college students from the Klang Valley. Furthermore. It is an encouraging sign that more research into this area should be carried out in the near future. institution's image. more constructs can be defined and measured in follow-up studies. whereby students were approached personally by the interviewers. and campus surroundings must all be considered by college operators in attracting students. Data gathering used the convenience sampling method. family background. as intended.4 Implications for Future research This study has effected more questions than answers. academic achievements. The construct of influence on college choice decision is one which is very difficult to define. academic achievements. a strong element of subjectivity is still present. and satisfaction levels.3 Research limitations The sample size of 210 is considered very small compared to an estimated 340. In particular researchers can look into other aspects of the student decision-making process. and three education fairs would in our opinion be a good start. 278 . the quality of teaching. but a conservatively suggestion of one nationwide tour every year. As this research is meant for exploratory purposes. including personal factors. and satisfaction levels were not examined. In particular. The important aspects of college choice decision affecting post-purchase behaviour. This research has also indicated what students actually value in selecting a college to enroll in. This study is mainly descriptive in nature. Similarly. which may not be representative of tertiary student population in Malaysia as a whole. The causal relationship between college choice and post-purchase behaviour. can also be examined. In particular. we believe that a wealth of other follow-up studies can and should be carried out. 5. Sidin.000 students currently enrolled in institutions of higher education. more studies in this field need to be conducted before a clearer picture of the education industry in Malaysia emerge. Although extreme care has been taken not to cause business to the sampling process. The frequency of such events that would provide the greatest impact is hard to tell. This technique has been criticized by many researchers as not being accurate and representative of the entire population. Preparing to give what students want is the first step in applying marketing concepts to higher education. Siti Rahayu Hussin and Tan Ho Soon ential students. 5. and other considerations.Samsinar Md. much less to measure. academic achievements.

In doing all these. technocrats. As our nation progresses towards its coveted dream of developed statehood. the students. education (and in particular tertiary education) plays a major role in its actualization.Samsinar Md. duration of studies. creativity. and academic quality are also important considerations for students and their families. we should thus try to understand it better. must be solved quickly yet effectively. such as the questions of cost. Besides. Our policy planners should take these omni-present factors into consideration in providing a better deal for students in Malaysia.5 Conclusion As education strongly reflects and affects the soundness of the nation. Siti Rahayu Hussin and Tan Ho Soon 5. planners. and morality. social life. Nevertheless. There is also strong possibility of attracting foreign students to our shores. problems faced within the current system. Only then can we boast of a worldclass education system and achieve the spirit of “Malaysia Boleh!" In conclusion. Only then can their actual needs be catered for. university and college authorities must be aware of students' needs and college selection criteria. many of them expressed the desire to see improvements in quality of teaching. and more. On a smaller scale. universities and colleges. and facilities. Therefore. the ubiquitous factors of costs. Academicians and policy makers must be careful in their planning and implementation of national education objectives so that we can continue to produce generations after generations of useful. upright. Another important task in assisting national development is to stem the outflow of foreign exchange to support the thousands of Malaysian students abroad. It is hoped that follow-up studies would provide more coverage relative to the findings of this research. College and university authorities too should strive to ensure that students are given a holistic education and not just a paper qualification. quality. That greater need and awareness is very much a part of human striving to perfect oneself and to self-actualize. and competent citizens. thus reversing the outflow of funds and reduce our service deficit. 279 . this study is an early attempt to explore the wide fields of Malaysian education scene. The burgeoning industry that we now witness today is the result of a greater awareness and need for higher learning and achievement. must be made aware of their significant roles and responsibilities in moulding the new generation of professionals. particularly from the viewpoint of immediate customers. knowledgeable. being the front-runners and implementers of national educational objectives. Sidin. Through this study. operators. leaders. students have shown that they are amiable to and satisfied with local tertiary education.

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