Corporate Image of Public Higher Education Institutions: Relevant Factors to Distance Learning Students

Fabio R. da COSTA
Inayara V. D. P. GONZALEZ

Technological advances are generating a significant increase in the supply of distance learning (DL) courses via the Internet, increasing the importance of this type of education for the university’s structure. This article identifies factors associated with perceptions of the public higher education institutions’ image from the perspective of DL students. This is a field study that is exploratory, descriptive and quantitative in nature. The units of analysis are institutions in the Higher Education Distance Learning Centre of the state of Rio de Janeiro (Centro de Educacao Superior a Distancia do Estado do Rio de Janeiro – CEDERJ) consortium that offer undergraduate courses, and the observation units are students enrolled in the Sao Fidelis Centre (Polo de Sao Fidelis). The data were collected by means of a survey, then tabulated and analyzed using the SPSS program. The results indicate that the image is a snapshot, generated from the current stimuli projected by the organization and translated by the public, based on relevant cognitive and affective aspects, according to the individual’s manner of observing the environment. The study demonstrates the multidimensionality of the image and that the studied institutions’ global image is associated most strongly with their affective image. Furthermore, the results show that the amount of time that a member of the public interacts with an organisation does not affect her perception of that organization’s image.

KEYWORDS: Corporate image, distance learning, higher education, public institution, CEDERJ.