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An interactive decision-making model of international postgraduate student course choice.

McNicholas, Carolyn; Marcella, Rita


Carolyn McNicholas


This paper explores the decision-making process of international non-EU postgraduates when choosing a qualification from a UK business school and proposes a new model which reflects the iterative, cyclical and continuous nature of the process. The degree of rigour and rationality employed in decision-making was often limited and influenced by culture and the composition of the decision-making unit (DMU). A Decision Maker Typology is proposed which will support segmentation strategies. Postgraduates continuously searched for information and relied on word of mouth information from students, parents, agents and academic staff. Online sources (websites, search engines and reviews) were perceived uncritically to be trustworthy sources. Data on reputation, rankings and friendship groups helped form choice sets. Forty-two qualitative interviews were conducted with international postgraduates from one Post-92 University. The need to meet the information requirements of all DMU members and stimulate information exchange to create a virtuous circle of communication was identified.


MCNICHOLAS, C. and MARCELLA, R. [2022]. An interactive decision-making model of international postgraduate student course choice. Journal of marketing for higher education [online], Latest Articles. Available from:

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Apr 25, 2022
Online Publication Date Jun 13, 2022
Deposit Date Jun 20, 2022
Publicly Available Date Jun 20, 2022
Journal Journal of marketing for higher education
Print ISSN 0884-1241
Electronic ISSN 1540-7144
Publisher Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Keywords Postgraduate; Consumer decision-making; Decision-making unit; Information sources; Choice factors; International student
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