The Image and Perceived Quality of Universities as Important Dimensions for Building University Brand Equity -Case Study Involving Albanian Students
Keywords:university, image, perceived quality, brand equity, student.
AbstractResearch has shown that the probability of employment for individuals lacking proper qualification is four times smaller than that of those who possess proper qualification. Qualification helps people to occupy a decent job, that is to say a good paying job, with quality working conditions supplied by social and legal benefits and protection. A higher education degree is an investment in human capital however and in our country, the cost of this investment per individual is relatively high compared to the expected income. Since the investment to have a university degree is a rare purchase and for most students can be the first and last purchase, therefore the choice of university must be carefully evaluated which means that the image and the university's perceived quality can be the main selection criteria by students. Studies about brands, describe the impact of brand image through identification with the customer. This includes personal identification, where customers can identify themselves with some brands and therefore develop a level of fondness towards them. Therefore it can be suggested that people can enrich their image through the image of the brands they buy and use. Therefore, university students, as the most important group of interest are likely to identify their own self with the university they choose. Images of the university as a brand can be used by students to enrich their image, for example, students can begin to call themselves "boy / girl of X University". Andreassen and Lindestad (1998) have found that consumer retention is influenced by the image of corporate and consumer satisfaction. Within the context of a higher education, loyalty fostered by students can be furthered by the students' own perceived image of the university, as the observed quality of the university. This paper will attempt to treat the influence of perceived quality and image of the Albanian universities as the choice of study provided to Albanian students as well as the impact that these dimensions of brand equity impress upon Albanian universities.
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