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Rana Sabra

DBA Graduate - 2013

Thesis title

Competitiveness of Higher Education in Lebanon. Understanding Students’ Intentions to Enroll in Institutions of Higher Education: Moderating Role of Subjective Knowledge of International Accreditation

Supervisor(s)

Benoit Aubert

Rana Sabra is a program director and faculty member in the Pharm MBA program at the Lebanese University. Rana is also a part-time adjunct faculty in the MBA Cohort Program at Grand Canyon University in the USA. Dr. Sabra is a marketing and entrepreneurship specialist; her work spans  institutions of higher education, business training, marketing creativity and women’s non-profit groups and corporations. Dividing her time between Lebanon and the USA has filled her life with world-rounded experience.

As with the rest of the world, the education industry in Lebanon (and the Arab Region) is witnessing an increase in demand for higher education, and the market has responded with a rapid growth in the number of institutions. On the global level, a need has emerged to govern institutions and present assurance to the public about the quality of the offered education. New accreditation agencies have been formed to provide the public with such assurance, and has offered coping strategies due to the increasing internationalization of universities. The main purpose of this research is to investigate the moderating effect subjective knowledge of international accreditations on students’ decisions in selecting a university or college in the Lebanese market. The focus of this research is on accredited business schools, as they are selected as representative of the general developments in higher education in a country. Business schools are some of the most prone institutions facing internationalization and are highly demanded in the region. According to a recent study, the quality of management schools in Lebanon ranked thirteen (out of 144 countries in the world) (Bilbao-Osorio, Dutta, & Lanvin, 2013), stressing the importance of Business education in Lebanon and reinforcing the significance of this research. Two hypothetical business schools (one with international accreditation and one without) are examined in the quantitative section of this study in order to answer the main research question: “Does subjective knowledge of international accreditations moderate the students’ decision-making process in joining a postsecondary education in Lebanon?” Answering the research question provides an added value to the field of higher education through conceptual, methodological, and managerial contributions. A modified students’ decision-making process model is formed reflecting the Lebanese market with an identification of the moderating effect of the subjective knowledge of international accreditation on the decision-making process. The mediating effect of the students’ attitude towards the institution is also introduced. From a managerial perspective, the research question leads to the formulation of a comprehensive plan to improve the higher education sector. It also clarifies the status of international accreditation and its effect on students’ decision-making process. Finally, the research will lead to a new segmentation of the Lebanese student. Consequently, there is a need to investigate sub-research questions, including: - “Which antecedents affect the students’ decision-making process?” - “Do attitudes towards the institution mediate the students’ decision-making process?”