Postgraduate study: influencing factors in prospective students’ motivation to apply and decision to enrol

  • Gail Carter-Payne

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Business (DBA)


In the literature related to college choice, motivation occurs at the point of applying to higher education, and enrolment occurs at or near the end of the process. This study uses a critical realist approach and a quantitative research design to investigate the effect of the initial motivation to apply and demographic data on both the final enrolment decision of postgraduate applicants and the barriers to enrolment that applicants report as obstacles. The study uses the literature on motivation to create three broad categories of motivation: intrinsic; internally-driven extrinsic; and externally-driven extrinsic; and the literature on barriers to adult learning to underpin the creation of financial; external restraint; and dispositional barriers to enrolment. Data for the study came from an online longitudinal cohort survey of postgraduate applicants. The findings include a statistically significant relationship between externally-driven extrinsic motivation and financial barriers reported as obstacles for not enrolling. The findings also suggest correlations between age, the length of time since an applicant’s last degree, as well as region of nationality and the final enrolment decision. The contribution to knowledge is the creation of a typology for relating motivation of postgraduate applicants and demographics to enrolment decisions, as well as an addition to the literature about postgraduate enrolment, motivation, and decision-making.
Date of Award4 Sept 2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorRobin Shields (Supervisor)

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