The student intake at the University of Glasgow has increased from 23, 310 to 26, 550 from 2006-2011 (HESA, 2011), indicating a positively inclined student decision to study at the university. The decision making process is a complex process made by the student intentionally or unintentionally (Moogan and Baron, 2003). This process is stimulated by “ Push” factors related to home country and “ Pull” factors related to host country (Mazzoral and Soutar, 2002).
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In order to understand the student market, it is necessary to have knowledge of student choice and decision making process (Vaira, 2004). Also it is essential to apprehend factors influencing student purchase aims and comprehend the connection among the factors (Cubillo, 2006). Unluckily, at present there is inadequate information about the factors influencing student decision specific to the University of Glasgow and besides that there is little research done on factors influencing local student decision.
Therefore the intent of this research is to investigate into the factors influencing students’ decision to study at the University of Glasgow. This research will incorporate studies by Briggs (2006); Mazzoral and Soutar (2002); Maringe (2006) and Maringe and Carter (2007), which will provide a foundation for the research. This paper will analyse the significance of student decision making to consumer behaviour and choice.
It will further examine the different factors that influence the student decision and categorise them into push and pull factors. Finally conclusions will be made by reviewing the main themes and associate them to the present study. Decision Making Process The process of decision making for students who want to enter into higher education is a complicate and a multistage process, which requires the problem of choice of destination and programme to be solved (Cubillo, Sanchez and Cervino, 2006).
In the field of Business and commerce, the area f decision making is of great importance and thus it has developed the growth of Consumer Behaviour Theory (Gabbott and Hogg, 1994; Crozier and McClean, 1997). Relating the Consumer Behaviour Theory to education by Chapman (1986) and Moogan et al (1999) have been acknowledged for this. Demonstrated by Kolter (2003) the process of decision making is a rational one and can be generalised and foreseen as a five level process, which includes recognition of the problem; hunt for information; assessing alternatives; making the buying judgement and analysing the buying decision.
According to Maringe and Carter (2007), specific to higher education, the process of decision making about education and employment includes the following: Pre search manners which involve initial and occasional inactive prospects about future progression, active search manner comprises of options which are preferred and short listed, application stage is associated with submission of application, making the choice i. e. accepting or declining the offer and lastly the post acceptance manner where the students evaluate their decision to be correct or incorrect.
Maringe (2006) in his study shows that, the students while making a decision regarding their higher education are adopting a consumerist approach However, Solomon (2002) revealed that the decision making process which is considered to be a rational and sequential process is sometimes affected by chance factors, emotions and judgement and there by destroying the rationality assumption which is very important to decision making.
Thus the above studies are relevant to the research as they help comprehend the aspects of student decision from a perspective of a consumer using the consumer behaviour theory, which can help provide an insight to the factors affecting the decision. Choice is another concept affiliated with decision making, as it is the consequence and the method both through which decisions are represented at any time during the decision making process (Maringe and Carter, 2007).
Choice in higher education can be categorised into four theories. The structural models which explain choice on the lines of socio-economic and institutional limitations laid on students while making a decision (Kinzie et al, 2004; Gambetta, 1996; Roberts, 1984 and Ryrie, 1981). The economic theories rely on accurate calculation regarding education (Becker, 1975).
The next theory lay importance on networking influence, Hodkinson et al. (1996) and Hemsley-Brown (2001) provides in-depth analysis of how important personality and judgement are in choice and decision making process. The theory by Foskett and Hemsley-Brown (2001) is concerned with three element that influence choice which are social, economic and cultural issues; influencers on choice and finally personality.
Therefore the mentioned theories are very beneficial to the research as they focus on issues affecting student’s choice for higher education which can be associated to undergraduate and post-graduate students in University of Glasgow and consequently their decision making. Factors Influencing Student Decision Students today look out for more information to make abreast decisions which leads them to consider more factors influencing their decision (Moogan and Baron, 2003). These factors take into account the different attributes of choice decisions (Kallio, 1995).
The existing research have recognized the following factors that influence student’s decision: Studies show that college reputation and recognition is one of the most important factors (Keling, 2007; Landrum, 1998). Academic Programmes (Yusuf et al, 2008 and Connor, 1999); cost (Joseph & Joseph, 2000 and Callender, 2003); job opportunities (Seiver, 1998 and Murray et al, 1997), educational facilities (Absher and Crawford, 1996) and location (Tight, 1996) were important influencing factors.
Other factors like family influence specially parents (Archer and Hutchings, 2000) and personal benefit like experience and learning new languages (Bourke, 2000) were also crucial factors in the decision making process. Categorising the students into international and local, change the importance of the factors identified above: International Students: Study by Gomes and Murphy (2003) suggests that international student decision is mostly based on the “ Push and Pull” factor model.
Mazzoral and Soutar (2002) explains the push factors (conditions at home) are economic and political ones which have a greater influence in choice of country, while pull factors (conditions at host country) are institutional reputation and recognition and teaching quality have more influence on choice of university. Local students: A Scottish study by Briggs (2006) and Cornnor et al (1999) suggests that offering the right subject was the most important factor, followed by employment, recognition, location and academic support facilities.
The financial support facilities provided by the Scottish Government (2011) to local students are also factors influencing student’s choice. Therefore all the above studies are pertinent to the research as they help identify the influencing factors. Especially the studies by Mazzoral and Soutar (2002); Briggs (2006) and Cornnor et al (1999) are very constructive to the research as they prioritise the influencing factors for each category of students local and international.