The role of branding in attracting prospective students to institutions of higher learning: a case study of st. Paul’s University
The purpose of this study was to find out the role of branding in attracting prospective students to institutions of higher learning. Higher education has been affected by globalization such that universities are now competing with their services at the international levels. In order to build sustainable competitive advantage, universities have to know their competitors, identify the programmes and products to compete in and assess their performance in relation to the competition in the market place. The objectives of the study were to investigate the role of branding in the university sector in Kenya, to find out what prospective students are interested in when choosing institutions of higher learning and to assess whether branding provides financial returns for universities. A descriptive case study research design was used. The researcher collected data from 2 key informants and 210 respondents who were chosen through simple random sampling. Data was collected through interviews from key informants and through questionnaires and focus group discussions from the respondents. Data collected was further analyzed through descriptive narrative analysis and Statistical Package for Social Statistics. The findings of this study revealed that branding is essential for institutions of higher learning, reputation and affordability stood out as important factors prospective student consider when choosing a university and when branding is well coordinated, it fosters university recognition within the community and provide returns. This study further recommends that universities need to work on market differentiation in order to know the need of their target audience and differentiate themselves in the competitive marketplace. For future research, this study suggests focus on other aspects like online marketing which can be used by universities in the crowded marketplace.