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To identify factors influencing the decisions of Malaysian first-year pharmacy undergraduate students in private higher education when choosing to pursue a degree in pharmacy as well as their choice of private university.This cross-sectional study employed a validated, self-administered questionnaire which was administered to 543 first-year pharmacy students from nine different private universities. Factor analysis was utilised to extract key factors from the responses. Descriptive and inferential statistics were used to analyse the data.Eight factors motivating students' decision to study pharmacy emerged from the responses, accounting for 63.8% of the variance observed. Students were primarily motivated by intrinsic interests, with work conditions and profession attributes also exerting significant influence. In terms of choice of private university, nine factors were identified, accounting for 73.8% of the variance observed. The image of the school and university were most influential factors in this context, followed by university safety, programme attributes and financial factors.First-year pharmacy students in the private higher education sector are motivated by intrinsic interest when choosing to study pharmacy over other courses, while their choice of private university is influenced primarily by the image of the school and university.