Original Research

Factors influencing South African optometry students in choosing their career and institution of learning

K. P. Mashige, O. A. Oduntan
African Vision and Eye Health | South African Optometrist: Vol 70, No 1 | a90 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/aveh.v70i1.90 | © 2011 K. P. Mashige, O. A. Oduntan | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 09 December 2011 | Published: 10 December 2011

About the author(s)

K. P. Mashige, Discipline of Optometry, School of Physiotherapy, Sport Science and Optometry, South Africa
O. A. Oduntan, ‡Discipline of Optometry, School of Physiotherapy, Sport Science and Optometry, South Africa

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Abstract

Thechoice of an appropriate career, occupation or profession is one of the most important decisions hat one makes in life and there are many factors which may influence such a decision. The purpose of this study was to establish the factors which influenced students currently studying optometry in South African institutions in deciding on the course of study and choice of institution. Data was collected with a questionnaire on demographics of the students and the factors that might have influenced their choice of optometry as a career and their institution of learning. Data was analysed with descriptive and cross-tabulation statistics. Three hundred and eighty seven students responded to the questionnaire (80.1% response rate). Their ages ranged from 17 to 40 years with a mean of 20.73 ± 2.46 years and included 30.5% males and 69.5% females. They were from the University of Free State 25.1%), University of Johannesburg (29.5%), University of KwaZulu-Natal (29.7%) and the University of Limpopo(15.7%). There were 38% Whites, 36.7% Blacks, 22.2% Indians and 3.1% Coloureds.
The highest rated factors which influenced their choice of optometry were the desire to help other people (92.8%), job availability after graduation (92%), subjects passed and points obtained in the
matric year (91.2%) and the potential to earn a good salary (88.6%), respectively. Few rated news and other media (20.9%) as an important factor in their decision to choose their current institution of learning while 29.5% reported that failure to gain
admission to study other degrees was an important factor. These results may be useful to institutions offering optometry degrees to formulate effective recruitment strategies to attract quality students. Also, they may be useful to career counsellors in
counselling prospective students on their career choice and institution of learning. (S Afr Optom 2011 70(1) 21-28)


Keywords

Optometry; South African optometry students; tertiary education; careers; South African universities

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