The Antecedents and Consequences of Student Perceptions of University Image and Student-University Identification in Transnational Higher Education

  • Stephen Wilkins

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


This research aims to identify the process by which students form images of universities, the extent to which students’ favourable evaluations of image attractiveness lead to student-university identification, and the extent to which perceived image attractiveness and student-university identification determine planned behaviour, i.e., supportive intentions, including student choice of institution.Full-service international branch campuses offering complete degree programmes are a fairly new phenomenon on the higher education landscape and potential students have limited knowledge about them and the institutions that own them. It is interesting therefore to discover whether these students do in fact hold images of international branch campuses. The research was conducted in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the country that hosts more international branch campuses than any other worldwide.The study adopted a deductive, quantitative method, which involved a survey questionnaire completed by potential university students (year 12 and 13 high school students). This research stands out from earlier work on organisational identification, as earlier studies focused on existing consumers or employees while this study considers potential consumers (students). The research included a pilot study that involved individual interviews with members of the target population, which ensured research design validity. Data were analysed using a variety of techniques including exploratory factor analysis, multiple regression and structural equation modelling.The findings of this study provide support for the proposition that individuals can identify with universities in the absence of formal membership – with no or minimal previous interaction between the individual and the university – and that student-university identification can lead to supportive intentions among prospective students. These findings suggest that institutions would benefit from articulating and communicating their identities clearly, coherently and in a persuasive manner, and emphasising those aspects of the university’s identity that prospective students will perceive as prestigious, distinctive and similar to their own identities.
Date of Award31 Dec 2013
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorJeroen Huisman (Supervisor) & John Davies (Supervisor)


  • corporate image
  • consumer company identification
  • student choice
  • international branch campuses

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