Becoming an education provider of choice in Hong Kong: An inquiry into student decision making

Angel LAI, Paul Gibson*, Siva Muthaly

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: Managers in higher education require cost effective ways to attract the optimal number of students. The purpose of this paper is to address that general problem at the college level, and in doing so, it points toward strategies that could also be relevant at university and at national level. Two crucial issues are whether potential students are more influenced by parents or by peers when it comes to choosing a college; and whether spending money on advertising is more efficacious than spending money on making direct contact with potential students. The findings provide essential market intelligence for strategically managing the scarce resources available for attracting students. Design/methodology/approach: Data were gathered through a survey instrument and the partial least squares (PLS) technique was subsequently applied to 314 responses. Findings: Secondary school guidance counselors, followed by current and previous college students were the highlights in order of magnitude for non-marketing information sources for college choice. Social life received the highest loadings among college attributes and phone calls from the admissions office received the highest loading among marketer controlled variables. The results reflect the nature of Chinese culture, which is regarded as being highly collectivist. Research limitations/implications: The model proposed in this study is applicable to students of sub-degree courses, but may need to be adapted to degree and postgraduate courses students. Practical implications: This study helps educational managers to identify which factors most strongly influence choice of higher education provider, and as a consequence enable managers to make more strategic use of scarce resources. Originality/value: This is one of very few studies which employ PLS analysis to discover the key factors that influence student selection of a higher education provider, and one of few studies that focusses on Hong Kong.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)590-609
Number of pages20
JournalInternational Journal of Educational Management
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2014

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Education
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management

User-Defined Keywords

  • Chinese students
  • Collectivism
  • College attributes
  • College choice
  • Hong Kong students
  • Information sources
  • Partial least squares
  • Strategic
  • Sub-degree


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