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Exploring the role of pedagogical practices in the brand identity formation of selected Gambian universities.

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This study sought to facilitate insight into the potential role of pedagogy in the brand identity formation of higher education institutions (HEIs), through a study of selected HEIs in The Gambia. Specifically, the study sought to address the following research question: What role do pedagogical practices play in building the brand identity of selected universities in The Gambia? The study was underpinned by an interpretivist philosophy and the intra-paradigm qualitative mixed method of data collection (O'Reilly, Kiyimba & Drewett 2020). This facilitated a preliminary analysis of the contents of institutional documents and social media postings. This was followed by telephonic and virtually mediated in-depth interviews in which the interactionist interpretations, recollections, experiences, and opinions of 54 participants (students and staff) were explored on the themes of institutional brand management practices, institutional pedagogical practices, institutional brand identity, and the links between pedagogical practices and institutional brand identity. The study used the Corporate Brand Identity Matrix (Urde 2013) as a supporting framework of analysis. The findings indicate that the HEIs recognise the emerging trend of competition in Gambia’s higher education sector as a consequence of government’s liberalisation policy. However, there is no evidence of the majority of them responding to emerging competition using strategic marketing and branding. The evidence suggests that the HEIs use hardly differentiated, production-style portfolios of academic courses to pursue largely unengaged students, prospective students and other stakeholders. Further findings indicate that academic staff use a narrow variety of pedagogical approaches, with the teacher centered, lecturing method emerging as dominant. This insight emerged against the background of the evidence which indicates a link between pedagogy policy and practices and stakeholder impressions. A synthesis of these findings culminated in the emergence of the pedagogy-based higher education brand identity matrix (P-HEBIM), which this study proposes as a novel framework for the branding of HEIs. Drawing on this, the study sets out a practitioner guide for the use of the P-HEBIM, making specific recommedations for the brand management roles of different HE stakeholders in The Gambia.


Doctoral Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.