Eyes on the prize; employability is the driver for entering Higher Education
The purpose of this research paper is to hold up to the light the motives of a key consumer group considering
making purchases in UK HE: UK sixth formers. The research makes use of SERPVAL, an established multi-item
instrument for measuring personal values in the service environment developed by Lages & Fernandes, (2005)
and assesses the applicability to the prospective UK higher education consumer.
This research utilised a quantitative questionnaire using a five point Likert scale and makes use of
SERPVAL. The total convenience sample came from four schools and consisted of (n=418) respondents
across lower and upper sixth form.
The questionnaire design aimed to address the proposed theoretical framework by establishing personal
values, educational motives, HE attributes and social, informational and environmental influencers.
The research objectives which arise are as follows:
To assess the applicability of the SERPVAL model to prospective UK HE consumer.
To investigate the personal values and motives of UK sixth formers.
The educational motives scale (Bolger & Somech, 2002) was adopted and a scale to measure the
importance of influencers was created from the literature search. HE attributes were grouped by the five
major attributes of; cost, resource, environment, reputation and career were used. Data was entered using
SPSS v.20 and statistical analysis carried out to establish reliability and frequency of all scales used.
To evaluate the perceived importance of social actors,
informational and environmental influencers in the
School Year Frequency
To appraise the importance of institutional attributes in
the evaluation process.
Year group of sample population
The outcomes of our research will be of interest to
marketing strategists within HE as well as to the various
social actors that exert influence on sixth form students
such as careers officers, teachers and parents.
These findings enhance our understanding of the
underlying personal values sixth formers are hoping to fulfill
by studying for a degree and how they evaluate attributes in
light of these. It is evident that open days are crucial
influencers and therefore knowing what applicants are
evaluating allows HEIs to tailor their offering at such events.
The present study makes several noteworthy contributions
to the field of services marketing, shows how the SERPVAL
model can be used and adapted to suit the specific service
sector and informs HEIs how consideration and choice sets
are formed in this complex decision making process.
Authors: Hayley Hunter, BA MBA and Ross Thompson, BA, DPM, MBA, ACIS (Chartered Secretary)
Achieve high status job
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Prospective students are most significantly
concerned with performance approach goals
and studying for a degree is intrinsically
motivated. Career attributes feature highly,
applicants want qualifications recognised by
Meet new people
Meet expectaƟons of others
Acquiring a profession is seen as a way of
achieving self-fulfilment by gaining a sense of
Publically and poliƟcally acƟve
Associated high status
Employability is the driver
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