ASSESSING THE USE OF SOCIAL MEDIA IN INTERNAL COMMUNICATION IN HIGHER EDUCATION AGENCIES: THE CASE OF COMMISSION FOR UNIVERSITY EDUCATION AND HIGHER EDUCATION LOANS BOARD

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ABSTRACT
This study sought to explore the use of social media in higher education agencies, focusing on the Commission for University Education (CUE) and Higher Education Loans Board (HELB). The study made use of a case study design with mixed methodologies in data collection which comprised of content review of the agencies’ social media platforms, questionnaires to members of staff across departments of CUE and HELB, and key informant interviews to the two agencies’ Corporate Managers. Findings indicated the presence and use of social media as communication platform in higher education agencies which had been integrated with other corporate communication platforms such as websites, branded materials, seminars & conferences, outreach programmes for synthesized and mainstreamed corporate message. However, in the integration process, the findings informed that it should carefully be done so as not to lose the distinct respective corporate identities. An intra and inter working approach need also to be devised for ownership and inclusivity in the management of the social media platforms. Communication Offices were viewed as best suited to champion management of the higher education agencies’ respective social media platforms. The study also found out the need to constitute Corporate Communication Advisory Committees whose membership should be drawn from functional areas of the higher education agencies as per the agencies organizational structures. The Management (decision makers) of the higher education agencies having been found not to be fully supporting the management of social media platforms, there was need for the Management to be part of the team driving the use of social media in the agencies under their leadership. The decision makers would participate by such means as membership to the Advisory Committees, commit the necessary resources as well as designate a team with clear terms of reference to be fully responsible in the managing their respective social media platforms. Further, the study established that there was general lack of knowledge of social media related policies despite them being in place in the HE agencies with majority not adhering to the requirements of the social media related policies. The study also identified various benefits to the higher education agencies in their use of social media to communicate. Such included them being a vital feedback tool, resolve inquiries and complaints and communicate higher education agencies’ various services and events. A number of challenges and risks such as cyber attacks, staff apathy, lack of requisite infrastructure were identified to affect the use of HE agencies’ social media. Measures such as regular monitoring, putting in place guidelines on social media operations, lobbying for Management support, training of staff, provision of requisite hard and software infrastructure were proposed to mitigate against the challenges and risks to better corporate communication efforts of using social media communication in higher education agencies.

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