Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Ieda M. Santos


Although Malaysia primarily relies on expatriates to develop its economy, a private Malaysian institution had not examined the retention of expatriate students who might contribute toward the country's future economy. The problem that prompted this study was the institution showed low graduation rates for expatriate students and had not assessed the perceptions of key factors that impacted their attendance and persistence. The purpose of this study was to provide insights about expatriate students' perceptions of key factors about attendance and persistence at the institution. Tinto's longitudinal model of dropping out and the conceptual model guided this study. With a guiding question about students' perceptions, specific research questions explored expatriate students' perceptions of individual characteristics, the interactions within the institutional environment, and institutional characteristics that influenced their decisions to attend and persist at the institution. Qualitative data were collected using interviews from a purposeful sample of 5 expatriate students. Data were transcribed and coded inductively, resulting in 10 themes: Malaysia as a destination for higher education, the Ministry of Higher Education (MoHE) institution as an institution, supporting group, English language, past educational experiences, academic integration, commitment, social integration and institutional commitment, college quality, and institutional type. A white paper was proposed as a project that included recommendations to stakeholders. The positive social changes were to promote future expatriate students' persistence and graduation rates, enhance their learning, and prepare them to be the future leaders in Malaysia, their country of origin, or elsewhere internationally.