Which Master of Business Administration (MBA)? Factors influencing prospective students' choice of MBA programme – an empirical study

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DOI: 10.1080/1360080X.2011.605222
Abstract
Factors which influence students' selection of a Master of Business Administration programme are identified and the variation in their relative importance across the student population investigated. This research also identifies the features of a university which attracts students, as well as examining the students' perceptions of the management school as compared to the university as a whole. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 76 current Master of Business Administration students. The data were analysed using a grounded theory approach and five key themes emerged from the data: repute, syllabus, quality, facilities and career. While these five themes reappeared throughout interviews, their definitions and relative importance varied widely. The conclusions drawn from this research are that numerous factors influence a postgraduate student's choice of Master of Business Administration programme and that prospective students are well informed when making their decision. The reputation of the university appears to be a key factor.
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Which Master of Business
Administration (MBA)? Factors
influencing prospective students'
choice of MBA programme –– an
empirical study
Greg Blackburn a
a Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation, The
University of Queensland, St Lucia, Queensland, Australia
Available online: 14 Sep 2011
To cite this article: Greg Blackburn (2011): Which Master of Business Administration (MBA)? Factors
influencing prospective students' choice of MBA programme –– an empirical study, Journal of Higher
Education Policy and Management, 33:5, 473-483
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Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management
Vol. 33, No. 5, October 2011, 473–483
Which Master of Business Administration (MBA)? Factors influencing
prospective students’ choice of MBA programme – an empirical study
Greg Blackburn
Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation, The University of Queensland, St Lucia,
Queensland, Australia
Factors which influence students’ selection of a Master of Business Administration pro-
gramme are identified and the variation in their relative importance across the student
population investigated. This research also identifies the features of a university which
attracts students, as well as examining the students’ perceptions of the management
school as compared to the university as a whole. Semi-structured interviews were con-
ducted with 76 current Master of Business Administration students. The data were
analysed using a grounded theory approach and five key themes emerged from the
data: repute, syllabus, quality, facilities and career. While these five themes reappeared
throughout interviews, their definitions and relative importance varied widely. The con-
clusions drawn from this research are that numerous factors influence a postgraduate
student’s choice of Master of Business Administration programme and that prospective
students are well informed when making their decision. The reputation of the university
appears to be a key factor.
Keywords: business education; decision making; influences; MBA; reputation; school
choice; student behaviour
Introduction
A Master of Business Administration (MBA) is an internationally recognised business
degree. It is academic in nature and yet provides practical preparation for individuals in
business and management. An MBA can not only complement professional experience, but
an MBA graduate is able to command a higher salary than his or her colleague who does
not have the degree. The Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC) Financial
Service reports that in 2009 84 per cent of MBAs had already found a job by the time they
graduated (‘Stalled’, 2010). In other words, an ‘MBA opens a window of opportunities for
a person with the intelligence and drive to take advantage of this degree’ (Bolton, 2005).
The aim of this research is to identify the reasons and rationale behind the selection
of MBA programmes by students. Specifically this research will focus on the MBA pro-
gramme offered by the Business School at the University of Queensland. The intention is
to gain a richer insight into the decision making process than has previously been achieved.
Previous studies have concentrated on quantitatively identifying the most important factors
considered by MBA students. This research is unique in that it takes a qualitative approach
to identifying the factors, which influence student choice.
*Email: blackburn.greg@gmail.com
ISSN 1360-080X print/ISSN 1469-9508 online © 2011 Association for Tertiary Education Management and the
L H Martin Institute for Higher Education Leadership and Management
DOI: 10.1080/1360080X.2011.605222
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474 G. Blackburn
This research focuses on identifying the influential factors involved in the selection
of an MBA programme across different categories of students (local and international),
and determining whether the relative importance of these factors varies across different
sections of the population (for example, variation with country of origin, prior educational
background or industry affiliation). Additionally, the research also addresses whether MBA
programmes are judged according to the reputation, resources and opportunities provided
by the management school offering the programme or by the wider university?
The research also examines whether students are finding that their decision to enrol in
the University of Queensland MBA was based on an accurate picture of what the University
of Queensland was offering. This will have implications for the future reputation of the
Business School.
The findings from this research will be valuable to Management Schools in target-
ing their marketing strategies at prospective MBA students. For example, advertising
campaigns could be customised to better target various groups within the population.
Background
The reasons for undertaking study toward an MBA are widely documented. A recent sur-
vey showed that self-improvement, career development, enhancing business skills, having a
positive impact on society are most important to MBAs immediately after they receive their
degrees (The Aspen Institute, 2008). Other reasons such as networking opportunities, expe-
riencing a foreign culture (for overseas students) and increased professional and personal
effectiveness are also proposed (Australian Graduate School of Management [AGSM],
2011a; Bolton, 2005). Students in the programme are usually in their late twenties with
experience across small, medium and large organisations, and come from diverse profes-
sional backgrounds such as ‘engineering, automotive, law, marketing, banking, defence,
tourism management consulting, entrepreneurship and other specialties’ (AGSM, 2011b).
Some advice given to people who are undecided on the career they want to pursue, or
those who want to change careers, is that they would find the broader-based MBA a bet-
ter option for them (Masterinformatiecentrum, 2011). In terms of the type of student who
would undertake this degree, Lees (1991, p. 203) argues that ‘an MBA student is almost
invariably highly motivated, ambitious, bright, unafraid of risk and willing to work hard’.
There are numerous universities in various countries offering the MBA programme.
The choice among the universities is a difficult decision. There are a multitude of factors
to be considered including the prestige of the university (locally and internationally), the
reputation of the business school, the various learning modes provided, how recognised
the school is, research and publications, the flexibility of the programme and the costs
involved.
In today’s world one could question if, ‘it is not just having an MBA degree that is
important, but where the degree is from that matters more?’ We propose that only a handful
of prospective students research a school’s MBA programme as closely as they should and
that most students tend to only look at a school that is close to them, affordable and of
which they have heard positive reports.
The manner in which student’s choose their MBA programme also has consequences
for business schools. Postgraduate programmes, such as the MBA, are significant revenue
earners for universities and so there is competition amongst universities to attract students.
Knowledge of the factors which students consider important will enable the schools to
better target their marketing. Previous research, such as that of Liesch (2001), has used
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Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management 475
a quantitative approach to identify these factors. The qualitative approach used in this
research will provide a unique perspective on the problem and so will shed new light on
the issues.
There is limited literature available on the selection of MBA programmes by prospec-
tive students. For this reason we began with an examination of the factors influencing
the choice of university for undergraduate and postgraduate courses before focusing
specifically on MBA programmes.
James, Baldwin and McInnis (1999) surveyed students in their first year of tertiary
study and found that the most important factors were types of course offered, convenience
to home, the prestige of the university, employment rates for graduates and opportunities
for higher degree study. The least important factors were starting salaries for graduates,
opportunities for flexible study, parents’ views, friends’ study plans and availability of
rental housing nearby. James et al. (1999) also surveyed mature age students and obtained
similar responses. Their definition of ‘mature age’ as finishing secondary school more
than 12 months ago may have contributed to this finding (that is, mature age students in
this study probably had similar attitudes and beliefs as school leavers since they may have
differed in age by as little as one year).
Considerations prominent in university advertising, such as course flexibility, appli-
cation of information technology in teaching and the overall standard of teaching, were
expected to be influential in student choice. However, research showed that these factors
were of low importance and many prospective students based their decisions on limited
information, reputation and hearsay. James (2000) concluded that a surprisingly high pro-
portion of university applicants (undergraduate) are not in a good position to judge the
quality and suitability of courses.
The factors affecting the choice of university for postgraduate degrees by research have
also been investigated (Kiley & Austin, 2000). It was found that the major source of infor-
mation for students was university staff (used by 73 per cent of students) and newspapers
(read regularly by 36 per cent of students) with the Good Universities guide ranking used by
only 5 per cent. A significant finding was that 42 per cent of students did not explore oppor-
tunities outside of the university where they obtained their first degree. Reasons given for
remaining at the same university were satisfaction with university, family ties and financial
considerations.
It is worth noting that a majority of students (52 per cent) undertook their postgraduate
study in the same department as their undergraduate degree (Kiley & Austin, 2000). This
familiarity with the department may result in students not searching too widely for other
study options. However, selecting an MBA programme necessitates moving to at least a
new department, if not a different university, and so may be expected to increase the range
of options investigated.
The literature on students’ selection of MBA programmes appears to be limited to sur-
veys conducted by individual universities, for example Liesch (2001) or magazine/internet
articles, for example Mulligan (2010), Gupta (2007), Gilles (2008), Quacquarelli (2002),
Hansen (2011). A recent survey of MBA students found that the three most important
factors in students deciding to attend University of Queensland were the reputation of
University of Queensland, the reputation of the Business School and the availability of
multiple delivery modes (Liesch, 2001). Recent graduates and current students both rated
the same three factors as the most important. Note that the questionnaire response rate for
recent graduates was only 21 per cent, but this is in line with typical values of 15–20 per
cent expected for mailed questionnaires (Saunders, Lewis, & Thornhill, 2000, p. 159).
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476 G. Blackburn
The secondary literature contains several approaches for assessing different MBA pro-
grammes. The approaches vary from listing criteria for selecting an MBA, which suits your
lifestyle (Hansen, 2011; OnlineMBA, 2011) to maximising your salary and employment
prospects on graduation (McCallum, 2005). However, there are questionable assumptions
in all of these approaches. For example, the Financial Times (Jacobs, 2010) ranking method
allocates 40 per cent of the ranking points to salary. High scores on the two salary related
items alone would rank a programme in the world’s top 100 business schools even with low
scores on every other item.
Asiaweek (2011) uses a slightly different method when comparing full- and part-
time courses (employment prospects are excluded from the ranking of part-time courses).
This subsequently results in an inconsistency where, for example, the relative ranking
of the Mt Eliza Centre For Executive Education (Victoria), University of Queensland,
RMIT (Victoria) and Curtin University of Technology (Western Australia) business schools
changes depending on whether the Asiaweek full- or part-time criteria are considered (even
though the same lectures are attended by both groups of students).
Asiaweek (2011) also compared MBA programmes by asking business schools to
score each other on a scale from 1 (inadequate) to 5 (world-class). Under this system
the University of Melbourne ranked fourth out of 46 Asian business schools. However,
it ranked first when the rankings were based on a more subjective analysis involving
assessment of resources, graduate outcomes and reputation. It can be seen that different
assessment procedures produce very different results. The role of the rating systems has
also attracted criticism from the Association of MBAs, which states ‘grave concerns’ about
the methodology and criteria used by various business school rankings and league tables
(MacDonald, 2004).
A common trend in the literature is that the researchers adopt a positivist stance to
define a list of factors and then survey respondents who are asked closed questions concern-
ing this list. However, defining terms like reputation, resources and graduate outcomes is
highly subjective. For example, is median basic salary (plus benefits minus signing bonus)
of MBA graduates, as used by Asiaweek (2011), a valid measure of the value of an MBA?
In summary, the key factors identified in the literature are:
Reputation appears to be an important factor but the definition of reputation varies
(for example, judged on academic merit or opinion of other business schools). There
also appears to be a distinction between the reputation of the university and that of
the business school.
Graduate outcomes such as employment prospects and salary on graduation are
given high weighting in MBA ranking schemes but graduate salary was found not to
be important for undergraduates.
Flexible study modes were rated as unimportant by undergraduates but MBA
students rated it as one of the top three considerations.
Extent of research by prospective students – previous researchers agree that not all
students make fully informed decisions when selecting undergraduate or postgrad-
uate courses. Students undertaking postgraduate degrees by research tend to remain
at the same university and department as for their undergraduate degree and so avoid
looking seriously at a range of options.
Information sources – prospective postgraduate students got their advice from fac-
ulty staff, the internet and newspapers rather than the Good Universities Guide.
Family or friends did not appear to be an influence on the decision making process
of undergraduate students.
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Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management 477
This review of the literature revealed a gap in the knowledge about how students choose
their MBA programme. The information available relies on a quantitative approach using
closed questions and based on key terms defined by the researcher. An opportunity exists
to conduct in-depth interviews and so reveal a richer insight into the decision making
process.
Methodology
The complex nature of the phenomenon of why students make a choice for a particular
MBA course in favour of another requires a rich descriptive ‘picture’ of the attributes
that lead to the student’s decision making. Given the absence of prior empirical work on
student choice, a ‘direct’ research approach involving structured interviews seemed the
most appropriate precursor to a more involved study relying on a larger sample.
Based on the multi-layered model of Saunders et al. (2000, p. 85) we selected the
following approach. The rationale and justification for these choices are justified below.
Research philosophy Interpretivist/phenomenology
Research approach Inductive
Research strategy Grounded theory
Time horizon Cross sectional
Data collection methods Structured interviews (plus secondary data)
The interpretive approach attempts to understand phenomenon through the meanings
that people assign to them and their participation in the social process (Neuman, 1994).
In a sense attempting to explain why people act the way they do by studying the subtle
meanings in social life. This approach allowed us to develop an understanding of the fac-
tors, which influence the student’s decision-making, their expectations and what attracts
them. Positivist research methods are viewed as being too simplistic to adequately model
complex structures (Myers, 1999). Lin (1998) argues that the positivist approach identifies
general patterns while an interpretivist establishes how general patterns look in practice.
The inductive approach suits the gathering of qualitative data (that is, ‘why’ not ‘what’).
It also allowed us to shift focus as key ideas were uncovered. The rigid methodology of the
deductive approach would not be suitable (Saunders et al., 2000, p. 89). A limitation is that
our research may not be able to be generalised outside of the population we have studied
(for example, may not be applicable to other universities or non-MBA students).
A grounded theory approach was undertaken to develop a comprehensive understand-
ing of why MBA students choose the education institution that they do. This strategy
complemented our choice of an inductive approach (since we did not enter the research
with a fixed hypothesis). Given the nature of the research topic and the time available a
cross-sectional study, that is, a particular point in time was elected.
The data gathering method for this research project was via interviews undertaken by
four interviewers conducting 18–22 interviews each with current University of Queensland
MBA students. One-on-one interviews were decided upon, as opposed to questionnaires,
as they maximise trust and co-operation on more intimate topics and decrease refusals
(Dooley, 1990).
For reasons of confidentiality access to Business School student records were not
available to the research team. Thus convenience sampling rather than a more struc-
tured approach was relied upon. A heterogeneous sample covering a wide range of
backgrounds was sought. The demographics of our sample include a wide cross-section
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478 G. Blackburn
of the University of Queensland MBA student community despite the limited number of
interviews conducted and the convenience sampling approach.
The choice of a sample size (n =76) was based on a desire to access a range of opin-
ions and the availability of respondents. The study justifies the sample as large enough to
yield a rich set of data to allow a qualitative comparison before reaching ‘theoretical satu-
ration’ (Glaser & Strauss, 1967), that is, the point at which no new insights were likely to
be obtained. Our sample size is quite in keeping with the nature of qualitative data, as qual-
itative samples are often small (Anderson, 2010; Fossey, Harvey, McDermott, & Davidson,
2002, Marschan-Piekkari & Welch, 2004; Marshall, 1996; Myers, 2000). LoBiondo-
Wood & Haber (1998) argue that results based on a small sample (under 10) tend to be
unstable; therefore our sample size was chosen based on resource and time perspectives.
Rarely does a circumstance require a census of the population. For the type of informa-
tion desired for this study, we concluded that a representative sample of students who are
able and willing to describe the experience can serve the purpose. Our sample featured a
high degree of participation and participants were selected randomly as they exited class-
rooms from various courses (both day and evening) over the period of a week. Our sample
size (n =76) constitutes 25.4 per cent of the University of Queensland MBA student
population. Of these 34 per cent were female.
A series of semi-structured interviews was conducted as this allowed for the flexibil-
ity to proactively investigate unexpected events and seek clarification on detail as needed
(Dwyer, 1993; Maxwell, 1996). A mixture of closed, open and exploring questions were
applied throughout the interviews. The closed questions allow us to gather specific infor-
mation in particular areas of interest. Other more open questions were used to explore
various topics.
For the current research it was elected to apply the Chapman (1981) model because it
provided a framework for structuring our interview questions. It was decided to use only
the one framework to avoid any preconceptions in the analysis of our data.
Chapman (1981) proposed that the choice of college by American college students
is governed by the characteristics of the individual student, the influence of outsiders,
attributes of the college and college efforts to communicate with students. While the
Chapman model shows how several factors combine to influence the student’s choice of
university it does not explain why the importance of these factors varies across the student
population.
Analysis of the data focused on a qualitative approach (that is, non-statistical) whereby
the raw data were broken down into instances of some kind so as to classify them and
reveal their characteristic elements and structure (Saunders et al., 2000, p. 397).
The interview transcripts were coded according to the method set out in Saunders et al.
(2000, pp. 396–399). For logistical reasons we did not tape-record the interviews so the unit
of analysis was the short phrases noted during the interviews. The coding process moved
through successive phases of coding: open (disaggregating), axial (searching for relation-
ships) and selective (integration of themes). The aim was to bring themes to the surface
from deep inside the data by investigating causes, consequences and interactions (Neuman,
1994, p. 408). After coding of the data, five key themes emerged: repute, syllabus, quality,
facilities and career.
Findings and discussion
The findings derived from the 76 MBA student interviews can be divided according to the
five key themes, which emerged during the data analysis phase.
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Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management 479
EXTERNAL INFLUENCES
STUDENT CHARACTERISTICS
Prior Education
Aspirations
Aptitude
Socioeconomic Status
UniversityÕs Choice of
Student
StudentÕs Choice of
University
General Expectations
of University
Admission to
University
Significant Persons
Friends
Parents
Work Colleagues
Fixed University Characteristics
Cost/Financial Aid
Teaching Modes
Location
University Communication with
Student
Written Information
Campus Visits
Admission/Recruitment
Figure 1. Influences on student’s choice of university (adapted from Chapman, 1981, p. 492).
Repute
‘Repute’ refers to the standing of the MBA programme in the business society and the
community in general plus the students’ perception of the MBAs reputation.
The interview transcripts demonstrate a majority of the MBA students chose to study at
the University of Queensland due to the influence of reputation. A large number of students
indicated that when they were researching the MBA possibilities, both in Australia and
overseas, important factors were history of the university, academic standards, research
excellence, facilities and rankings.
The majority of international students interviewed indicated that the reputation of
University of Queensland was a deciding factor in their enrolment. While this was not
as prevalent with Australian national students, University of Queensland’s reputation was
also a major contributing factor for their choice in many instances. The data indicate
that reputation is valued as the perceived worth by the community in general, industry
or even country and the perception other people, especially future employers hold of the
university.
There is evidence to support the assertion that the reputation of the university overall
is held more highly than that of the business school in particular. The data suggest that
MBA students believe that it is more important to affiliate with a well-known university
rather than a business school with regards to their future employment prospects. Data also
suggest that there is an assumption that the standard of the business school can be inferred
from the reputation of the university, that is, a ‘good’ university can be relied on to provide
quality programmes in the individual schools. Reputation was a major contributing factor
to the MBA student’s choice of university.
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480 G. Blackburn
Quality
The ‘quality’ theme arose from comments made during the interviews about the facilities
and the academic standing of the University of Queensland MBA programme.
Issues of particular importance were the course content (balance between theory and
practice), networking possibilities, class size and to a lesser extent, teaching quality and
lecturer understanding of working student’s requirements.
Our interviews focused on the ‘quality’ theme from the perspective of students entering
the MBA rather than the student’s current opinion of the MBA. The opinions of past and
present students as to whether their expectations were met will influence the standing of the
MBA in the business community. This theme is important for maintaining the reputation
of the MBA programme.
Syllabus
The theme ‘syllabus’ emerged from the interviews and refers to the perceptions held by
students of course content and timetable, choice of subjects available, the period of time
required to complete the MBA, and the adaptability or variability of the course.
Evidence from interviews indicates that MBA students believe that course content is
an integral component of a successful MBA programme. It is especially important for
them that the degree is well recognised in business, overseas and within professions. For
some students the choice of available subjects was important in allowing them to tailor
their degrees. The amount of time to complete the programme is also important to many
students. Subsequently, the various delivery modes, such as weekend delivery and summer
school, are highly attractive. However, for many overseas students the degree of flexibility
of the programme and delivery modes is not a contributing factor of their choice of MBA
programme. Evidence also exists in the data to suggest that international students do not
share similar needs where flexible study is concerned as local students as international
students have a more concentrated focus on degree completion in as short a time-span as
possible.
Facilities
The data illustrate that the availability of facilities was a consideration in University of
Queensland MBA students’ decision-making processes when deciding at which university
to study. ‘Facilities’ denotes the opinions and beliefs held by students about the University
of Queensland campus, the availability of public transport and car parking, as well as other
general campus and departmental facilities available.
The majority of students were satisfied with the public transport and car parking
arrangements at University of Queensland and for some, this even impacted on their
decision to study at the University. There is no evidence to suggest that facilities was a
major deciding factor for international students who appear to be less concerned with the
available facilities than with the University’s reputation. Many students presumed that a
university of status would provide adequate facilities.
Career
The final theme ‘career’ to emerge from the data expresses the general progression of
one’s working or professional life. Evidence in the data indicate that students feel that a
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Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management 481
University of Queensland MBA will benefit them by providing job security, opportunities
for making career changes, promotion prospects and the ability to earn higher salaries.
Findings indicate that there is a strong perception among MBA students that the University
of Queensland MBA programme will enable them to attain higher levels of position and
salaries, which relate to their desire for job status and improved lifestyle, whilst also
providing them with more employment security and employment opportunities.
Conclusion
The research sought to identify the influential factors involved in the selection of a partic-
ular MBA programme across different categories of student. We recognise the primary
limitations of the methodology for this study involves the small sample size (n=76)
within one institution. It was considered that conducting further interviews would not have
resulted in any major improvement to the research.
Analysis of the data has clearly identified several factors that are influential on student
choice: the reputation of the university and to a lesser degree, the reputation of the busi-
ness school, the relevance of the MBA programme’s content as valued by business and the
community, options for flexible delivery to help expedite course completion and to accom-
modate students who are employed full-time, as well as the availability of public transport
and parking facilities.
The data have provided a rich descriptive ‘picture’ of events that relate to and provide
an insight to what affects student choice. From the data, numerous examples have been
identified which illustrate the five identified themes.
The data suggest that for international students the deciding factor of their enrolment
was the reputation of the University of Queensland. For them, it is important to obtain a
degree from a university that has high status and is well recognised in their countries of
origin. This is evident in the multiple references that students made to the Asian university
ranking tables. Although reputation is also important for Australian nationals, it did not
appear to be as decisive.
These findings concur with the results of recent surveys of MBA students conducted
by Liesch (2001) and the study by James et al. (1999) where reputation is one of the
most important factors in deciding the choice of university. The prestige of the univer-
sity and the type of courses offered were considered one of the most important factors to
a prospective student. Other factors influencing a student’s choice like the relevance of the
programme and the availability of flexible study modes are consistent with the results of
previous researchers.
The research also endeavoured to determine whether the relative importance of the
factors identified in question one varies across different sections of the student population.
The ability to tailor degrees and the availability of flexible delivery modes has been rated
highly among students when choosing their degree. Evidence suggests that this was not the
case with overseas students.
Data reveal that postgraduate MBA students have largely researched their options of
MBA programme. It is evident that ranking tables, good university guides, promotional
packages, the internet, and word-of-mouth are being used to research student options.
Additionally, there is evidence to support the conclusion that students hold the reputation
of the University of Queensland more highly than the reputation of the Business School.
Our findings concur with Liesch (2001) where it was found that the reputation of the
university was rated as more important than the reputation of the business school. Unlike
James (2000), who noted that university applicants are not sufficiently equipped to make
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482 G. Blackburn
an informed decision about the courses and prospective students based their decisions on
limited information, reputation and hearsay, we found that prospective postgraduate stu-
dents do a lot of researching and are usually well informed and aware about the courses in
the programme, in particular, when they are paying for it themselves.
Perhaps the most significant finding from the study is that reputation is the largest con-
tributing factor to student choice when choosing an MBA. The perception of reputation
is important to students as it promises rewarding career opportunities, higher salaries and
more challenging employment. It is especially important to students that the MBA pro-
gramme is well recognised in business, overseas and within professions. A further finding
is that MBA students believe that course content is an important component of an MBA
programme deserving of high status. Also influencing students choice of MBA programme
are the facilities offered by the university. Car parking and public transport are evidently
important to students as are computing equipment, libraries and other services.
Previous researches have not defined ‘reputation’ specifically when the word ‘reputa-
tion’ has been used as an influential factor. Therefore, the interpretation of ‘reputation’
may still be ambiguous in various studies. In addition, our finding that the availability of
facilities is important to students has not been raised as an issue in previous studies.
Eventually, we hope to see larger studies on factors influencing prospective students’
choice of MBA conducted across several institutions. This student-choice research pro-
vides an important alternative perspective to the existing understanding on the selection of
MBA programmes by prospective students insofar as it explores the complex nature of stu-
dent decision making as well as identifying influencing factors. Consequently this research
has implications for Australian (and international) providers of graduate management edu-
cation. To attract the best students, management schools seek an advantage over others,
the structuring and marketing of courses is critical. Recognising the influence of univer-
sity reputation may prove valuable to management schools in better developing marketing
strategies to more efficiently target various demographics within their prospective MBA
student population.
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