A Social Media Capability Maturity Model for International Student Recruitment at Saudi Arabian Public Universities

  • Abdulelah Abed Althagafi

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctorate of Business Administration (DBA)


The vision 2030 for The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) is to decrease the state’s dependency on oil exports by increasing the exports of a broad range of other products and services such as Higher Education (HE) including the increase of international student recruitment. This research aims to develop a Social Media Capability Maturity Model (CMM), seen through the lens of the AIDA model(Awareness, Interest, Desire and Action), as a roadmap in support of Saudi Arabian Public Universities’(SAPUs) international student recruitment by considering The Public Universities of Scotland (UScots) as a benchmark. The research strategy was threefold: (i) through a literature review to explore the extent to which social media is used in higher education and for international student recruitment (ii) to undertake a structured comparison of the social media use for international student recruitment of SAPUs versus universities in Scotland (iii) to conduct a range of interviews with staff and students at a case study SAPU to discover the extent to which social media is deployed for international student recruitment. The findings suggest that SAPUs’ social media marketing strategies lack coherence and lag behind UScots. The proposed Social Media CMM offers guidance for SAPUs on how to recognise and situate their current capability in deploying social media for international student recruitment and provides guidance targets in developing a self-improvement plan. These findings make a theoretical contribution by extending research on the CMM and the AIDA model in the context of international student recruitment marketing. The managerial implications comprise recommendations for policymakers and social media managers in SAPUs on good practices for international student recruitment.
Date of Award2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Glasgow Caledonian University
SupervisorMike Mannion (Supervisor) & Noreen Siddiqui (Supervisor)

Cite this