Service quality in postgraduate education

Service quality in postgraduate education Purpose – Measuring service quality in higher education is increasingly important for attracting and retaining tuition‐based revenues. Nonetheless, whilst undergraduates have received substantial academic exposure, postgraduate‐based research has been scant. Consequently, the objectives of this paper are threefold: first, to identify the service factors used by postgraduates in their quality evaluations. Second, to analyse the appropriateness of importance‐performance analysis (IPA) in the measurement of service quality and, final, to provide a working example of IPA's application in a UK‐based university. Design/methodology/approach – Convergent interviews were used to elicit attributes of service that were deemed important by taught postgraduate students. These findings were then tested using an online survey. Exploratory factor analysis was used to group the service attributes into latent “service factors”. Each service factor was then tested for service quality using Martilla and James's IPA technique. Findings – About 20 service attributes were educed from the qualitative stage. From these, four service factors emerged; being, academic, leisure, industry links and cost. Using IPA in a UK university, the findings suggest that the “academic” and “industry links” aspects of service quality are the most critical to postgraduates. The paper's conclusions suggest that IPA is an appropriate tool for measuring service quality in postgraduate education. Practical implications – Through the application of the IPA framework presented in this research, practitioners can successfully identify areas of service priority and thus allocate appropriate resources to encourage continuous service improvement. Originality/value – This research provides a valuable insight into the service quality needs of the UK postgraduate segment and also a potential conceptual framework for policy makers to use when evaluating their service delivery. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Quality Assurance in Education Emerald Publishing

Service quality in postgraduate education

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
Copyright © 2008 Emerald Group Publishing Limited. All rights reserved.
ISSN
0968-4883
DOI
10.1108/09684880810886259
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Purpose – Measuring service quality in higher education is increasingly important for attracting and retaining tuition‐based revenues. Nonetheless, whilst undergraduates have received substantial academic exposure, postgraduate‐based research has been scant. Consequently, the objectives of this paper are threefold: first, to identify the service factors used by postgraduates in their quality evaluations. Second, to analyse the appropriateness of importance‐performance analysis (IPA) in the measurement of service quality and, final, to provide a working example of IPA's application in a UK‐based university. Design/methodology/approach – Convergent interviews were used to elicit attributes of service that were deemed important by taught postgraduate students. These findings were then tested using an online survey. Exploratory factor analysis was used to group the service attributes into latent “service factors”. Each service factor was then tested for service quality using Martilla and James's IPA technique. Findings – About 20 service attributes were educed from the qualitative stage. From these, four service factors emerged; being, academic, leisure, industry links and cost. Using IPA in a UK university, the findings suggest that the “academic” and “industry links” aspects of service quality are the most critical to postgraduates. The paper's conclusions suggest that IPA is an appropriate tool for measuring service quality in postgraduate education. Practical implications – Through the application of the IPA framework presented in this research, practitioners can successfully identify areas of service priority and thus allocate appropriate resources to encourage continuous service improvement. Originality/value – This research provides a valuable insight into the service quality needs of the UK postgraduate segment and also a potential conceptual framework for policy makers to use when evaluating their service delivery.

Journal

Quality Assurance in EducationEmerald Publishing

Published: Jul 11, 2008

Keywords: Customer services quality; Service quality assurance; Postgraduates; Higher education; United Kingdom

References

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