A PRELIMINARY FINDING ON INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS CHOICE FOR HIGHER EDUCATION AT UNIVERSITI PENDIDIKAN SULTAN IDRIS
The Malaysia government has announced to make Malaysia as an education hub in Asia. The aim is to have 150,000 international students by 2015 and 200,000 by year 2020. Thus, the role of marketing which previously were non-existent in most universities, has grown drastically. In order to attract more international students to the country and achieve the nation’s goal to become a regional education hub, a comprehensive marketing strategy should be considered. Therefore, it is important for Malaysian higher institutions to identify the factors that attract international students to choose Malaysia as a place to study. Thus, this study identifies the factors crucial for attracting international students to study in Malaysia by using Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris (UPSI) as sample. This study also aims to indentify the best approach to attract students to study at this university. Results of the study show the top five important factors are English usage, courses offered, accommodation cost, course duration and information from internet. The findings reveal that recommendations from friends and family members are the two most important approaches to attract more students to study in Malaysia, which clearly reflects the importance of word of mouth as a promotional tool. It is hoped that the finding of this study can provide some insights to higher education institutions in Malaysia and UPSI especially to understand the determinants of student choice to study in Malaysia.