Antecendents and consequences of service quality in a higher education context : a qualitative research approach
The study aims to explore the perception of students with regard to critical antecedents, dimensions and outcomes of service quality in the context of a university in Australia. The study used qualitative research method to derive a theoretical model. Three focus group discussions with nineteen students were conducted at the main campus of Central Queensland University (CQUni), Australia. The focus group findings show that the critical antecedents to perceived service quality are information and past experience. Students perceive service quality as a set of attributes and that they evaluate it cognitively. Satisfaction and trust are found to have direct and positive relationships with service quality as consequences. As revealed from focus group discussions, all of the interrelationships among the themes developed are positive. There are several practical implications of this study. Higher education managers should pay particular attention to develop a concrete information structure for potential students through promise and information structure. The authority should also develop and maintain good relationships with present and previous students, local and regional school authorities, and other stakeholders. They should continuously upgrade the performance of the service attributes in order to improve students’ experience, spread word-of-mouth, provide satisfaction, and build trust. This study shows that there are two streams to study service quality, antecedent approach and dimensional approach. This study develops a theoretical model, which is the first of its kind, in higher education marketing literature. This research considered three focus group discussions and a single university. Future studies should expand the scope of the research.