Factors influencing students' choice of campus and completion or non-completion of courses in FET colleges.
Ngcobo, Balungile Duduzile.
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The study is about factors that influence students‟ choice of a campus and how those choices influence students‟ decision to complete their courses. Since FET colleges have campuses with different historical backgrounds and unique characteristics, they offer specialised programmes according to the resources they have, relevant to their geographic location. The research focused on answering the following questions 1) What factors influence students‟ choice of campus? 2) What factors influence the students‟ completion or non-completion of courses? The aim of these questions was to determine what currently influences the students‟ choice and what kind of information or sources do students use in their study choice decisions. Some related researchers in other contexts have shown that there is a link between education and socio-economic factors. This study has been primarily informed by Tinto‟s (1987) theory on student retention and no-completion of courses, which suggested that non-completion is a result of a mismatch between the social/academic background, intentions and goals of the student and their institution‟s ability to meet those goals. Chapman‟s model of choice (1991) enabled him to indicate some factors, which influence student‟s choice. The aim of using the model was to check if the same influential factors were important for the current FET students in South Africa. A number of available studies have focused on the student, significant others in their lives, parents and teachers, as well as marketing of colleges or recruitment of students as factors influencing the choice. There is little literature that looks at how the fixed college factors such as program availability, location and reputation influence students, which is the focus of this research. This study falls into an interpretive paradigm and is qualitative in nature. Data has been collected using questionnaires and semi-structured interviews conducted among students of different campuses in one FET College. The sources of information are current students, those who dropped out and students who have completed their courses. Data collected show that the costs factor, academic achievement and significant others influence students‟ choices.