What should I study?: factors affecting student choice of subject at Libyan universities

Bait-Almal, Ali Ali Mohamed (2012) What should I study?: factors affecting student choice of subject at Libyan universities. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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Abstract

This thesis focuses on the analysis and discussion of issues and factors influencing Libyan students’ subject choices at undergraduate level. It reviews the literature in the field, situating the study firmly in the context of educational research. However, it is noted that this literature has mainly emerged from Western contexts, and hence cultures. Nonetheless, the body of literature is used as a framework to analyse the Libyan case.

The main research question focuses on the main factors influencing the choice process in respect of the field of study for first year undergraduates at Libyan universities. Further questions regarding why students choose to attend university, their perceptions of subjects, and the concerns and influences brought to bear in the choice process are posed. A mixed methods approach is adopted in which the research sample comprises first year students at four different universities in Libya, in order to identify any differences and similarities in the choice process among the students in different regions and different disciplines. Both questionnaire survey and interviews are used to secure fact and opinion regarding the mechanisms employed by students to make their choice of subject. Four different subjects are considered so that comparisons can be made of the influences that are brought to bear in student choice. Underpinning the research instruments is the theoretical framework consisting of cultural capital, social capital, and human capital, as obtained from the comprehensive literature review.

The research was conducted in two phases, the first being quantitative, in which 2,209 questionnaires were completed by first year students at two coastal city universities and two rural city universities in Libya. The second phase was qualitative, and involved 65 individual interviews, together with a focus group discussion to cater for female students who excused themselves from participating in the individual interviews because of their religious and cultural beliefs.

The research findings show that the subject choice process is influenced by multiple factors and that substantial differences between subject choices are seen among urban and rural students, the latter being destined to study in poorly equipped rural universities. As evidenced in the responses, there is no equity in the provisions of Libyan universities. A further result is that the student’s academic ability has little influence on the selection process, and that other factors such as the parents’ level of education, institutional infrastructure, career prospects and geographical location play important parts in influencing the decision. More interestingly, the study established that students from urban areas with educated parents are more likely to take courses offered in long established universities in the cities.

The thesis concludes by highlighting the pertinent points in the research, and makes recommendations for Libyan policy-makers and higher education institutions on how to facilitate the improvement of the student subject choice process. Additionally, it suggests possible avenues for further research area around the topic of this thesis. As a final note, the thesis offers a brief explanation of the socio-political, economic and cultural changes that have taken, and continue to take place, since the overthrow of the previous regime on 23rd October, 2011.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Morgan, W.J.
Keywords: Undergraduates, Libya, study, courses of, decision making
Subjects: L Education > LA History of education
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Social Sciences, Law and Education > School of Education
Item ID: 12711
Depositing User: EP, Services
Date Deposited: 30 Aug 2013 09:14
Last Modified: 13 Sep 2016 17:13
URI: http://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/12711

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