n South African Journal of Higher Education - Factors that influence students' choice of private higher education institutions

Volume 27, Issue 5
  • ISSN : 1011-3487



Private higher education institutions (PHEIs) are important role players in the South African higher education (HE) landscape. Unlike their public counterparts, PHEIs receive no financial support from the government. These organisations thus rely on sound strategic management principles to ensure their long-term survival in a competitive industry. Modern marketing philosophy suggests that consumers and the satisfaction of their needs should be the reason for the existence of any organisation and should thus be the main driver for strategic decisions. This warrants the need for PHEIs to gain a thorough understanding of their clients' (students') needs and behaviour. The aim of this study was to determine the relative importance of various factors that influence students in their choice of PHEIs. In addition to an extensive literature study of the HE landscape and its peculiarities, as well as student choice behaviour, a quantitative survey was conducted on 600 full-time students at three PHEIs. It was found that safety and security conditions constituted the most important choice factor amongst the respondents. Comparable to numerous international and local student choice studies, academic reputation and reasonable class fees were consistently identified as being important choice factors. These findings should alert PHEIs to the important factors to be considered in planning student offerings. The study contributes to existing student choice theory, and may serve as a launching pad for future student choice studies at PHEIs.

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