Effect of Selected Marketing Communication Tools on Student Enrolment in Private Universities in Kenya

Omboi Bernard Messah, Mutali. J. Namulia Immaculate


Student recruitment has become competitive; forcing institutions to find efficient, fast and effective means of providing prospective students with information while they are in the process of deciding. The significance of this study is represented by its attempt to identify the effect of selected marketing communication tools in terms of enhancing student enrolment in private universities in Kenya. Independent variables under study are; public relations, advertising, personal selling and direct marketing; the dependent variable is student enrolment.

The study adopted a descriptive research design. Correlation was undertaken to determine the relationship between the dependent (student enrolment) and independent variables (public relations, advertising, personal selling, and direct marketing) addressing the effect of selected marketing communication tools on student enrolment in private universities. Probability-simple random sampling technique was used to obtain a sample size of 125 respondents from 25 private universities in Kenya. Descriptive data was analyzed using descriptive statistics and inferential statistics (Chi-Square test of significance). Statistical program for social sciences (SPSS) was used for data analysis.

The results reveal that print media; newspapers, brochures and alumni networks were rated highly as the most effective marketing communication tools to provide information to prospective students. This is due the wide reach and reliability of these tools. The study found out that advertising plays a critical role in enhancing student enrolment in private universities. The study also found out that most universities have not embraced the use of social networks to use as student recruitment tools.

Technological advancements are changing how student recruitment is being conducted in higher learning institutions in targeting the techno-literate prospective students. The study established that internet use through university websites had a high usage rate which was equally indicated by student use in accessing university information. Websites are therefore effective marketing communication tools in enhancing student enrolment numbers. Traditional marketing communication tools like billboards, posters, radio, university newsletters, and alumni magazines were rated as less effective tools to reach and provide information to prospective students in bid to increase student enrolment numbers.

It is a descriptive rather than an evaluative study of marketing aspects as practiced by Kenyan private universities. This study therefore is of significance to University management and policy makers to use the study findings to formulate effective student enrolment strategies, product development, forecasting, admissions and recruitment policies, strategic planning process and expansion of academic programmes.

The study found out that Public relations influence student enrolment. It is crucial that higher learning institutions understand the perceptions and expectations of students and translate them into marketing activities that would attract and retain students. The need to provide value for money to the students and to be responsive to their needs has necessitated universities in general and marketing units in particular to look beyond marketing paradigms and customer approach in the HE sector. Declaring how their products are positioned against benchmarks and other ratings has already begun in many HEIs.

Public Relations, a university's public image and its customer satisfaction index are important aspects in enhancing student enrolment because satisfied and happy clientele speak well of the institution and influence others to enrol with the institution. The study established that apart from an institutions academic excellence, exhibitions and university image are key tools in increasing student enrolment.

Several aspects that need to be coordinated among quality assurance departments, academic staff, and the marketing departments in an effort to accomplish these needs.

The study recommends that universities top management should incorporate a greater market orientation into their strategic planning and frequently revise marketing communication tools to determine their effectiveness in order to have a competitive advantage and gain a big market share.

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