How to choose your minor? Decision making variables used in the selection of a minor by undergraduate students from a Dutch university of applied sciences
In recent years the higher education sector (HE) has been influenced by a marketised approach in which students are perceived as customers and in which student satisfaction is used as a measure of educational quality. Demand-driven education can be looked at as one of the consequences of this marketisation. In response to this phenomenon Dutch universities of applied science have designed their undergraduate professional bachelor programs education in majors and minors thereby offering students the possibility to customize their educational program. However, hardly any knowledge is available on minor choices of students. This paper presents the results of a survey looking into decision making variables influencing the minor choice of undergraduate students from a consumer behaviour perspective. Bachelor students from a large university of applied sciences in the Netherlands participated in the survey. Analysis of the data led to the discovery of nine decision making attributes and five sources of information & advice. The learning value of the minor proved to be the most important minor characteristic students take into consideration when selecting a minor. The contribution of the minor to the future career opportunities of the student and to the broadening horizon of the student also proved important when choosing a minor. The same goes for the contribution of the minor to the development of the competences required for the bachelor degree. Students use several sources of information & advice to form an impression of the minor of their choice. The digital information & advice from the department that offers the minor programme is most important in finding out about the relevant minor characteristics. Students use the information that is in the digital minor catalogue and they consult minor-specific websites. Non-digital information & advice seems less important. These results contribute to the theoretical knowledge about minor selection specifically and about student choices in higher education in general. The results of this study can be used by universities of applied sciences in developing the minor portfolio, in providing information and in coaching students. This study is one of the first into minor decision making variables. Further research is needed to test its results and to elaborate on aspects of minor-selection not dealt with in this study.
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