Determinants of Student Loyalty in Higher Education: A Relationship Marketing Approach
Student loyalty is a critical measure in the success of higher-education institutions that aim at retaining and graduating students. Despite its importance, few empirical studies have investigated the long-term relationship process that takes place between the educational institutions and their students. Based on recent contributions in relationship marketing, this study examines the likelihood of relationship paths among key factors affecting student conative loyalty: perceived service quality, satisfaction, trust, and commitment, in that order. An initial model is first used with a sample of undergraduate students, and then replicated using a comparable sample two years after to test for the stability of the model. The findings of both samples, and a merged sample, reveal that perceived service quality and student satisfaction are not translated directly into student conative loyalty, but indirectly through the mediation of trust and commitment. There is a statistically significant effect of perceived service quality on satisfaction, which in turn affects trust, which in turn affects commitment, which in turn affects intended loyalty. The structural model used in this study is comprehensive enough and parsimonious at the same time as it explains more than 80% of the total variance of student loyalty.