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The virtue of a satisfied client : investigating student perceptions of service quality
conference contributionposted on 06.12.2017, 00:00 by S Christensen, Philip BrethertonPhilip Bretherton
The Australian tertiary education sector has become increasingly competitive as a result of a number of factors including government funding cuts, oversupply of places, and increased levels of consumerism, (Wright and O'Neill, 2002). This environment together with societal changes have resulted in a marked growth in interest in service quality in the higher education sector as opposed to the prior studies that focused on the quality of the academic product only, (Soutar and McNeil, 1996 and Wright and O'Neill, 2002). Universities are now having to consider student satisfaction and the student perspective of the quality of services provided, (Soutar and McNeil, 1996). Higher education institutions must measure their service quality in order to function efficiently and effectively, and successfully to compete in this market environment, (DiDomenico and Bonnici, 1996). The focus of this paper is the assessment of service quality, as shown in return on relationship models, (Gummesson, 1999). Gronroos (1984) proposed measuring service quality as a gap between customers' expectations of what the quality of service should be and their perception of the quality of service actually received. Since this initial work there has been much debate concerning the measurement of service quality, (Martilla and James, 1977, Parasuraman, Zeithaml and Berry, 1988, 1991, 1994, Cronin and Taylor, 1992, and Teas, 1994). Most studies have been based on the disconfirmation paradigm, comparing expectations and experiences over a number of quality attributes, (Gronroos, 2000). A number of researchers have found that using instruments developed around the disconfirmation paradigm, particularly adaptations of the SERVQUAL instrument are appropriate for use in the higher education sector, (Pariseau and McDaniel, 1997, LeBlanc and Nguyen 1997 and Slade, Harker and Harker, 2000). This research investigates the conceptualisation and measurement of service quality in a multi-campus, multi-cultural and flexible learning university. An exploratory study of undergraduate student expectations and perceptions of service quality, as well as the significance level they attribute to the service quality dimensions has been established. This exploratory study was undertaken with students from the Faculty of Business and Law at one campus of the university that, as well as having nine Australian campuses, has several offshore campuses and also delivers programs by distance education. The purpose of this research is to identify which areas need service level improvements, using student perceptions of service quality and also to develop an instrument that may be used in future studies of different student cohorts studying at the same institution.