Academic journal article International Journal of Business and Society

Edutourism: Exploring the Push-Pull Factors in Selecting a University

Academic journal article International Journal of Business and Society

Edutourism: Exploring the Push-Pull Factors in Selecting a University

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

Students around the world have recognised Malaysia as the preferred choice for college and tertiary education because of its low cost of living and high quality education. Several underlying factors also contribute to their decision in selecting a university. However, a thorough understanding of the selection process by international students in the Malaysian context has yet to be done. Hence, a preliminary study was conducted to understand the factors that motivate these students to choose Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) as their institute of higher learning. A total of 130 respondents ranging from undergraduate and PhD students participated in the study. From the analysis, pull factor such as "institution image" significantly influenced the satisfaction level of the international students to choose UKM. Meanwhile, push factor of "job prospect" significantly influenced these students to recommend UKM as a study destination.

Keywords: Educational Tourism; Customer Satisfaction; Marketing

1. INTRODUCTION

The global education market is experiencing a strong pace of growth coupled with increasing incomes and opening of new institutions of higher learning in the developing countries. These global demands have increased the intakes of international students in tertiary education. From 1.8 million in 2007, the number of students is forecasted to be 7.2 millions in 2025 with 70% of them coming from India and China (Bohm et al. 2002). The value placed on an international education and the higher cost of education in home country 'push' many students to seek cheaper and affordable education overseas like Malaysia, Singapore, China or Australia. With the increased demand of tertiary education, institutions that have competitive edge would attract a large volume of international applicants.

However, educational tourism has generated little excitement to date from the tourist industry and this is reflected in the gathering of research and data (Smith and Jenner, 1997). Carr (2003) also agreed that many areas have yet to be examined empirically concerning the links between education and tourism. As noted by Siti (2006), there is a critical need to thoroughly understand how the selection process of host country is actually made and what are the underlying factors chosen by the international students to choose Malaysia.

Consequently, this research is conducted to assess educational tourism in the Malaysian context. The study is fundamentally descriptive to explain the contributing or motivating factors derived from the 'push-push' model as proposed by McMahon (1992) and Mazarrol and Soutar (2002). UKM was chosen due to its credit as Research University in 11 October 2006 and UKM is ranked second among the local universities in Malaysia. In addition, this study can be a basic academic source for UKM's administration to investigate which factors motivate the international students to select the host institution.

2. REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE

The growth of both education and tourism as industries in recent decades has led to growing recognition of these industries from both the economic and social perspectives. As concluded by Ankomah and Lawson (2002), countries could become more successful if they are able to link both the education and tourism industries as avenues for international exchange and learning. The changes in the tourism and education industries over the last two decades have seen the convergence of these two industries with education facilitating mobility and learning becoming an important part of the tourist's experience. Unfortunately, educational tourism has generated little excitement to date from the tourist industry and this is reflected in the lack of research and data in this area (Smith and Jenner, 1997). As supported by Carr (2003), there are many areas have yet to be examined empirically concerning the links between education and tourism.

Educational tourism has been discussed by very few tourism academicians. …

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