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Title: Understanding student choice of university and marketing strategies in Syrian private higher education
Author: Al-Fattal, Anas
ISNI:       0000 0004 2695 6561
Awarding Body: University of Leeds
Current Institution: University of Leeds
Date of Award: 2010
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The focus of this study is student choice and marketing in the private higher education sector in Syria. The literature review shows two contrasting attitudes regarding introducing marketing into education. Over the last few decades, the need for marketing has become more critical for organisational efficiency. Reasons that make marketing an important aspect in reflecting positively on an institution and the community are highlighted. The literature review concludes that the literature on marketing higher education is mainly based in Western contexts and cultures. It also highlights the paucity of literature combining strategies of marketing higher education and student choice of university, hence the focus of the study. The study is underpinned by three research questions aiming at investigating (1) the process of student choice of university, (2) marketing strategies at private universities in Syria, and (3) the relationship between student choice of university and marketing strategies. As the research investigates two distinct areas, it is set within a composite theoretical framework which draws on the process of student choice of university, and institutional marketing strategies. The composite model combines two marketing models from the literature, ‘marketing mix’ and ‘student choice of university’. I demonstrate how these two models complement each other, as together they form further comprehensive marketing strategies. The design of each marketing mix element is dependent on student choice analysis, and similarly understanding each step in the student choice of university is dependent on the elements of the mix. The research was conducted in three phases. The first phase was exploratory, which served in providing initial insights into the context, improving research design, and testing the theoretical framework. The first phase involved a pilot study and interviews with students. The second phase was a survey of 335 students at three private universities in Syria, which established a basis for generalisation. In the third research phase, three in-depth case studies were conducted at three Syrian private universities. Multiple sources of data were used to understand relevant issues of these cases, which were documents, researcher diary, andinterviews with three different groups: administrative members of staff, students and parents. The findings validate the application of the theoretical models, ‘marketing mix’ and ‘student choice of university’, in the Syrian private higher education context. Some modifications to these models are suggested due to contextual factors. The findings show that the process of student choice of university consists of five steps, being motives, information gathering, evaluating alternatives, decision implementation, and post-choice evaluation. The findings also show the marketing mix in Syria to consist of five elements, which are teaching and learning, customer centred focus, finance, branding and environment. An association between student choice of university and marketing strategies is highlighted and a composite model, the atom marketing model, is created on the basis of evidence collected. The study reveals a two-way matrix interrelationship between the two areas; it is a “push-pull” relationship, where each is influencing and shaping the other. The study contributes to knowledge in the way it researches theories from the West in a different context. It also demonstrates a detailed description of the relationship between two different marketing models.
Supervisor: Wilson, M. ; Prosser, J. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available