Transnational higher education: The importance of institutional reputation, trust and student-university identification in international partnerships
Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to assess the extent to which the critical relational variables of university reputation, student trust and student-university identification influence student behaviour towards transnational education partnerships. Design/methodology/approach: Students undertaking British degrees at two transnational partnership locations (Hong Kong, n=203 and Sri Lanka, n=325) completed a quantitative survey questionnaire. A conceptual model was developed and tested using structural equation modelling. Findings: University reputation and student trust were found to be significant predictors of student identification with each partner institution, and student-university identification was a significant predictor of student satisfaction, loyalty and extra-role behaviours towards both the local and foreign educational organisations. Practical implications: The findings suggest that student relationship management strategies should focus on strengthening the higher education institution's reputation, and increasing the students' trust and identification with the institution. Moreover, universities should also assess potential partners for these qualities when entering into transnational education partnerships. Originality/value: Drawing on theories of social and organisational identification, this is the first study to consider student-university identification as the linchpin between the exogenous constructs of reputation and trust, and the endogenous constructs of student satisfaction, loyalty and extra-role behaviours in both the international education and international business literatures.