Skip to main content

What drives students’ affective commitment towards their university?

Cownie, F., 2019. What drives students’ affective commitment towards their university? Journal of Further and Higher Education, 43 (5), 674-691.

Full text available as:

What drives students affective commitment to their university. FC.pdf - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.


DOI: 10.1080/0309877X.2017.1394988


How can universities build on-going, committed relationships with students, able to withstand the financial and emotional challenges of studying in higher education? The research proposes that students’ ongoing attachment to their university, based on positive feelings towards the university, is an important aspect of the student experience. This ongoing attachment is conceptualised here as students’ affective commitment towards their institution. Using an online survey-method and a research sample comprising undergraduate students studying in the UK, the research identifies three factors which drive students’ affective commitment towards their institution. These factors include students’ affective commitment towards academics and students’ calculative commitment towards the institution; factors which draw from the relational literature. A third factor, commitment balance, was developed within this research. Commitment balance occurs when a student’s commitment to their university is perceived to be reciprocated by the university’s commitment to the student. The study found that commitment balance was the most important driver of students’ ongoing attachment to their institution. The paper proposes that commitment balance is a key idea to consider within relational studies generally, but has a particular relevance in the higher education context for understanding the student experience. Commitment balance reflects the pulse of reciprocity which energises relational exchanges between students and institution. The findings of this research reinforce how critically important it is for universities and academics to build relationships with students. The desired outcome is to enhance the student experience, create positive attachment between students and university and ultimately improve student retention.

Item Type:Article
Uncontrolled Keywords:affective commitment; commitment balance; higher education; relationship marketing; student experience; reciprocity
Group:Faculty of Media & Communication
ID Code:30301
Deposited By: Symplectic RT2
Deposited On:05 Feb 2018 09:06
Last Modified:14 Mar 2022 14:09


Downloads per month over past year

More statistics for this item...
Repository Staff Only -