In Ireland, education is seen as the key to economic competitiveness. There has been a substantial increase in participation in higher education (HE) in recent years. The environment in which the higher education institutes (HEIs) operate has evolved into a competitive marketplace for students and funding. In order to overcome these challenges the HEI sector has focused on the development of HEI image. It is recognised that publics act towards a HEI on the basis of the positive or negative images that they hold. Image is seen as a powerful instrument in shaping a HEI’s future. The current literature argues that HEI image has been relatively unexplored but it is recognised as a complex,inconsistently defined concept. In light of these issues, the aim of this dissertation is to determine major elements in relation to HEI image specifically from the senior second level students’ viewpoint in the context of Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) and Cork Institute of Technology (CIT). This study aims to determine HEI image components, to investigate the HEI image sources and to determine the factors that contribute to the formation of HEI image. The main research aims and objectives were investigated using a two-tier research approach. Initially, a total of four focus groups were conducted with senior second level students based in counties Waterford and Cork. The second phase of the study comprised a survey of 320 senior second level students based in these regions. The primary research found that HEI image is a multi-faceted concept composed of elements that are quite similarly perceived for both HEIs. Word-of-mouth was found to be the strongest source of HEI image and organisational factors (academic, nonacademic,physical and promotional) have the strongest influence with personal and environmental factors being perceived as less influential. The six hypotheses that were developed in this study were partially supported, thus indicating significant relationships between influential factors and certain dimensions of HEI image. The research concluded there was a lack of knowledge regarding HEIs amongst senior second level students. These students’ perceptions of HEIs were not based on one component. HEI image is very much sourced from outside the HEI. The non-academic (sports, social life) and promotional (open days, the prospectus) factors have the strongest influence. This research uncovers and proposes many practical points and recommendations that may assist in understanding and managing HEI image.
|Publication status||Unpublished - 2011|
- Education, Higher education