Degree Name

Doctor of Business Administration


Sydney Business School


The Indonesian higher-education landscape has evolved rapidly to become more market-oriented: institutions compete for student enrolments. Therefore, understanding students’ choice criteria for selecting a higher-education institution has become increasingly important. The purpose of this study was (1) to explore and determine the most relevant factors considered by Indonesian students when selecting an Indonesian public university in which to study; (2) to estimate the relative importance the students attach to the factors that influence them to select a public university and the various levels of each factor; (3) to determine whether there are groups of students for whom different factors are more important; and (4) to determine market-share predictions for real and ‘ideal’ student choice criteria in the selection of an Indonesian public university. Understanding both the factors that are most influential in selecting an institution and the prospective students’ methodology in their choice process is imperative, particularly for those involved in the recruitment process; therefore, this study makes a significant contribution to the body of knowledge.

A mixed-methods research design, with qualitative and quantitative phases, was employed in the current research. The qualitative study used an individual qualitative questionnaire and focus-group discussions using a same cohort of 48 first-year undergraduate students in five public universities in Java and Sumatra. Thematic analysis was employed to generate factors that were then used to construct a questionnaire for quantitative survey. The quantitative study employed a conjoint questionnaire on high-school leavers who were actively engaged in the decision to select either public autonomous or non-autonomous universities in Java, which resulted in a final sample size of 403 responses. The complicated trade-offs that students had to make in determining which attributes were important to them – and how important – were analysed using conjoint analysis.

The research demonstrated that conjoint analysis identified and described consumer preferences in two models – aggregate and segmented – based on the importance values and the part-worth utilities obtained. A key finding of this study is that advice from family, friends, and/or teachers on students’ decision to choose a public university, along with job prospects, total expenses, campus atmosphere, reputation and proximity were considered as choice factors unique to the Indonesian highereducation context. Cluster analysis identified two homogeneous student segments: ‘social networks-based decision’ segment and ‘rational decision’ segment. The first segment places the highest importance on advice from family, friends and/or teachers, followed (in order) by job prospects, total expenses, proximity, campus atmosphere and reputation. In contrast, the second segment rated reputation as the most important, followed by job prospects and advice from family, friends and/or teachers, while proximity was the least important.

This thesis recommends the need for a stronger marketing orientation on the part of universities and each department within these universities including the implementation of an effective institutional development plan, particularly studentrecruitment management. Understanding prospective students’ choice process has high potential for developing university marketing strategies. Public universities should deliver on the most important criteria identified by prospective students. By using the criteria found to be important from the students’ perspectives, institutions of higher learning could revise their marketing strategy. Therefore, mass customisation is the appropriate marketing strategy for universities.