Student dual identification and advocacy for cobranded higher education: a study of UK academic partnerships
higher education marketing
Subject Categories::X342 Academic studies in Higher Education
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AbstractCobranding through academic partnerships between public and private Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) has proliferated in recent decades. Transnational HE partnerships have been common since the 1990s. UK universities have emerged as leading facilitators of transnational partnerships. This trend has attracted many researchers to study and determine factors of student identification with cobranded HEIs. Country brand is found to be an influential factor in transnational HE partnerships where students strongly identify with the foreign partner. More recently partnerships have increased domestically in the UK. However, in domestic academic partnerships, there is no research that examines how students identify with public and private HEIs that deliver a cobranded degree programme. The aim of this study is to investigate the antecedents and consequences of student dual identification with cobranded HEIs in the UK. In other words, it looks at how students identify with cobranded HEIs and how loyalty and advocacy are divided amongst academic partners when people study at colleges partnered with universities. Underpinned by the theories of organisational identification (OI) and consumer-company identification (CCI), this study proposes a ‘Dual Student-HEI Identification’ model to examine the impact of corporate reputation, corporate communication, and student trust as antecedents of student-HEI identification. The consequences of student-HEI identification are determined by examining student satisfaction with the course, student loyalty, and student advocacy for both partner institutions. This study has examined the existence of dual identification in students who study cobranded programmes to validate existing theories on identification in the context of HE partnerships. Due to lack of empirical studies and appropriate measures in literature, this study has adopted a mixed method approach to achieve triangulation (individual interviews, expert interviews, and survey) in data collection. Data has been collected from three large UK colleges that are in partnership with UK universities to deliver programmes in business studies, health sciences, and computer sciences. Data collection occurred in two phases. Phase 1 was qualitative and phase 2 was quantitative research. Phase 1 included two studies. Study 1 was a round of ‘individual interviews’ with students of the private HEIs. This provided initial measures for quantitative research. Study 2 involved ‘expert interviews’ that helped to refine the instrument for the main study. Phase 2 involved quantitative research where a survey questionnaire was deployed. The gathered data was analysed through a series of the multivariate statistical techniques. The findings of this study have revealed that students identify with both cobranded HEIs. Corporate reputation was initially introduced in the study as an antecedent of student identification. However, an important theoretical finding is that corporate reputation is a consequence of identification. In addition, identification is found to be a significant predictor of student loyalty, course satisfaction and advocacy for both cobranded HEIs. Findings of this study have offered valuable insights for researchers and practitioners by showcasing factors that determine students’ affiliation with UK based cobranded HEIs. An important recommendation is for academic partnership managers to focus on corporate communication to strengthen student identification which in turn will build reputation of both HEIs.
CitationRauf, K. (2023) 'Student Dual Identification and Advocacy for Cobranded Higher Education: A Study of UK Academic Partnerships'. PhD thesis. University of Bedfordshire.
PublisherUniversity of Bedfordshire
TypeThesis or dissertation
DescriptionA thesis submitted to the University of Bedfordshire, in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy
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