Justin Beneke* and Gert Human
Changes in the competitive environment, largely spurred by restrictions in government funding and an increase of educational service providers in the market, have forced higher education instructions to become more proactive in terms of student recruitment. In response, many institutions have turned to corporate principles to run their operation and to recruit their ‘customers’ (that is, the students themselves) . This exploratory study serves to ascertain whether using a relationship marketing approach is conducive to the task of identifying, selecting and recruiting highly desirable students. In this respect, particular emphasis is placed on whether these individuals are actually interested in establishing a pre-application relationship with a selected number of institutions, as well as the benefits they hope to accrue from such relationships. A hypothesized framework is thereafter appended as a guide for initiating and developing relationships with prospective students. Key variables influencing the decision process were probed. The reputation of the institution was found to be the most important factor in a scholar’s decision of a place of further study, followed by geographic location and thereafter campus safety. However, these differed between ethnic groups. Scholars’ receptiveness to the prospect of entering into a pre-application relationship with a tertiary education institution was found to be favourable. A mere eight percent of respondents claimed that they didn’t wish to have a relationship with an institution prior to the applications period. The remainder wished to be associated with one or more institutions. It was concluded that on average, the more serious scholar is interested in relationships with two institutions. In this regard, the factors attracting scholars to such relationships were identified. The availability of financial aid was found to be the most prominent factor, followed by curriculum advice and reduced application fees. It was therefore concluded that scholars seek real value and are less concerned with social benefits.
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