Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to investigate the relationship between perceived external prestige (PEP), the student experience, attitude, and behaviour in the context of higher education institutions.
Design/methodology/approach – A comparison of the relationships between prestige perception, the student experience, WOM, and loyalty is examined within a one highly prestigious institution and one mid-ranked institution. Multigroup structural equation modelling was employed to examine data obtained from 948 respondents at the two institutions.
Findings – While respondents from the top-ranked institution exhibit a significantly higher perception of university prestige than mid-ranked university respondents, no significant differences were found between the two groups of respondents in terms of the strengths of relationships between constructs. The analysis revealed that students’ perception of their university experience performed a full mediating effect on the relationship between PEP and WOM, as well as a partial mediating effect on the relationship between PEP and loyalty.
Practical implications – Student perceptions of the university experience is a strong indicator of attitude and behaviour. For university administrators, enhancing the student experience is just as important as managing a university’s reputation with respect to engendering loyalty and positive WOM.
Originality/value – This is the first study to link PEP with student attitude and behaviour. The findings provide interesting theoretical insights as well as useful managerial implications to enhance consumer experience which in turns affect their attitude and behaviour towards the organisation.
- Higher education
- Institutional image
- Perceived external prestige
- Student experience