How Administrators Can in Uence Student University

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Higher Education in Europe , Vol. XXV, No. 3, 200 0

How Administrators Can In uence Student University
Selection Criteria

Five main stage s generally make up the decision-making processes of transnationa l student s as the y select a university. These stage s involve proble m recognition , search behaviour , evaluative criteria, and purchas e and post-purchas e evaluation . This article investigate s the decision-making processes of internationa l students , particularl y selection criteria, relative to attendin g an overseas university. The study upo n which it is based revealed that while many variable s such as cours e offerings , facilities, distance , and fees are important , the major force behind selection criteria is word-of-mout h communication . The research, undertaken with approximatel y 400 student s enrolled in Southeas t Asian programme s offered by an Australia n university in Singapore , Malaysia, and Hong Kong , and with transnationa l student s studyin g in Australia, is described . Strategy option s ar e suggested by whic h business faculties can take advantag e of word-of-mout h communication to enhanc e transnationa l offerings .

In the wake of the economi c rationalizations of the 1990s , many higher education institutions have found themselves in nancial dif culty. Transnationa l education was one of the primary solutions to the problem s of international students who also had nancial dif culties; however , not all schools have been able to take advantage of the opportunitie s that transnational education offers . One of the major reasons for this situation is lack of understandin g of marketing processes and in particular the decision-making processes of students. In Australia, the major share of transnationa l education involves thre e main institutions. These three were able to thrive in the 1990s , while competitors have had to struggle to adapt to a ne w fre e market economy .

The most basic step in enhancing transnationa l offerings is to understand the core of marketing and consume r behaviour : the decision-makin g process. Understandin g the selection criteria students use to evaluate universities helps in communicating the appropriat e services to the marke t and, in turn, helps to in uence the selection process.

Since there are many decision-making models that explor e how consumer s make highinvolvemen t decisions , the representative mode l used for this particular stud y has been taken from the universit y textbook , Consume r Behavior: Implications for Marketing Strategy, by Hawkins , Neal, and Quester (1994) . The terms may vary, but the core efforts in the decision-makin g mode l are the same, namely: (i) proble m recognition , (ii) information search, (iii) evaluative criteria and alternative evaluation, (iv) purchase , and (v) post-purchas e behaviour . For the purpose s of this paper, the evaluative criteria or selection criteria aspect of the model is explored .

ISSN 0379-772 4 print/ISSN 1469-835 8 online /00/030345-0 6 Ó DOI: 10.1080 /0379772002001594 4




Before an effective transnationa l marketing programm e can be undertaken , the evaluative criteria used by students must be determined . How the students perceive the various alternatives for each criterion and its relative importanc e must also be ascertained. Evaluative criteria are the features or attributes of a universit y associated by students with the bene ts they desire and /or the costs they must incur.

As this stud y was only exploratory , student s were only asked open-ende d questions to discove r criteria. The relative importance of each criterion was not revealed. Wha t characteristics of degree programme s do oversea s student s particularly conside r when deciding whether or not to enroll? Singaporea n student s most frequentl y cited recognition of the degree in...
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