To increase the competitive position in the higher education sector, management teams of self-financing institutions have to investigate critical factors influencing satisfaction of students studying at sub-degree and undergraduate degree levels so as to implement appropriate strategies in recruiting students. We adopted a model of Strategic Enrolment Management (SEM) to investigate student satisfaction on tertiary studies. 626 questionnaires were collected to investigate the critical factors affecting student satisfaction in studying self-financed programs. The findings revealed that marketing, admission, academic advising, career services, institutional research and peer influence are the critical factors affecting students' perceived satisfaction. The results provide insightful information and suggestions on how self-financing higher education institutions could improve student satisfaction and further strengthen their institutional strategies and management in increasing the competiveness. Copyright © 2018 International Economic Society.