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This chapter provide a brief understanding on how the higher education market sector has been affected by the change with its environment, importance of service quality and its relationship with the customer (student) satisfaction. Meaning how good service quality can leads to customer (student) satisfaction and retaining and on the contrary how bad service quality leads to customer (student) dissatisfaction and losing customers. This research is building up and why service quality plays such vital role in modern business environment and especially in higher education sector as one of the main service providers. For the reason been that higher education sector has been undergoing some changes over the past few decades therefore service quality and student satisfaction important role in the higher education sector. Moreover to identify what are the most vital aspects in terms of service quality that keep the students satisfied and especially in this research with regard to the University of Worcester. This is followed by discussion of the problem, purpose of the research and the specific research question considered in carrying out this research.
Marketing management, Human resources management and Financial management are considered three most as essential factors in any type of industry. Out of the above mention factors marketing is considered as an important factor. For the reason been that it is function in an organisation that communicates what an organisation has to offers to the external customer and recruit them. Moreover development in marketing changes in organisation and customer buying patterns are becoming more buyer driven. This development in marketing has created a new fiction which is referred as customer relationship marketing over the past few year stated by Sobotie (2009). Customer relationship management is focus on about how to satisfy your customers by providing superior quality service, customised products or services and maintaining a data base of customers by segmenting making it possible to use different channels to different segments to communicate effectively.
Higher education institutes have been emerging as one of the most important service providing industries, almost every higher education institutes engage in marketing efforts to build and obtain competitive advantage over its competitors also to increase their market share. Surrounded by this extreme competition higher education institutes (universities, colleges, polytechnics) should identify and meet the expectations of students to attract more and to retain existing also to identify what is service quality, value in point of view of student. It is mention and popular topic of current business environment is building a long term relationship that affect the business in a positive manner years to come stated by Nadiri.
Decades ago many of higher education institutions inside UK have been taken a fairly passive approach to its student recruitment .Universities have extensively relied upon to selecting students from those applications come through universities student admission department or college admission services (UCAS) Naude & Ivy (1999.However these approaches have change over the period of time higher education institutions take a more insistent position in attracting recruiting. Currently there are three changes to the conventional university environment. First, changes in government funding have intended that total undergraduate numbers of students in any institution are effectively capped, and in addition students have to live on ever decreasing grants. Second, in 1992 the former polytechnics were given university status, and different types of colleges and educational institutes now offer recognized franchised university degree courses, therefore dramatically increasing the number and variety of degree courses on offer. Finally, changes in technology have lowered the cost of entering the market, leading to an increase in both distance-learning and Internet-based courses Naude & Ivy (1999.These changes and changes have affecting traditional perspective of how in educational literature the customers of higher education, which include students, parents, alumni, employers and legislators, to close the widening gap between their expectations of institutional performance and the actual performance stated by (Brigham, 1994 city Kiran, 2010 ). Having to pay for the services that a studentââ‚¬â„¢s get out his institute has made him more demanding for the services that he encounter.
Higher education sector in other countries are going through the same kind of environment changes at the same time. In the context of Italy Ministry of Education in Italy evaluate performance of each university as a means of governance, measured by three main areas: the demand for education (i.e. features of the matriculated students), results of the educational processes (i.e. number of credits obtained), and results of staff research. This measure affects both Ministerial funding and the restrictions to planning in each university. Therefore, students become an asset to be preserved and possibly increased. At the same time, many initiatives have been developed in order to analyse and satisfy the needs of the stakeholders in general (namely families, institutions, and firms) and of the students in particular declared by Petruzzellis (2006).
Service quality is a concept that has gain significant attention and debate in the research for the simple reason of having a strong impact business performance, lower costs, customer satisfaction, customer loyalty and profitability stated by Dehghan (2006); Seth et al (2005). However been said that in both defining it and measuring it proven to be difficult. this is for the reason been that There are a number of definitions as to what is meant by service quality. Commonly used defines service quality as the extent to which a service meets customers needs or expectations for the reason been declared by Lewis and Mitchell, 1990 sited by Dehghan (2006) also another famous author in service quality research Parasuraman et al (1985) defines ââ‚¬Å“the global evaluation or attitude of overall excellence of serviceââ‚¬ cited by Wang & Shieh( 2006) .Therefore service quality can thus be defined as the difference between customers expectations of service and perceived service. If the expected service performances are higher than performance, then the quality of the service is less than satisfactory meaning there are more chances for a customer to be dissatisfied. Service perceptions and expectation are a subjective factor that depends on the person who receives the services with his past experience and which forms current expectations. Furthermore for an organization to gain competitive advantage it must use of available resources to gather information on market demands and exchange it between organizations for the purpose of enhancing the service quality Seth et al (2005) .
Customer satisfaction is a vital element in the success of any organisation in current business environment even in non for profit organisations. This change in environment has affected to higher education institutes as well Dehghan (2006). Customers always want to be appreciated without to make such request. Therefore their perspective on service quality are really critical and becoming more essential to the services industry (Wannenburg et al. 2009 cited by Tan 2010).Customer satisfaction with the context to higher education
In the discussion about the methods that are adopted in conducting this research on service quality and its relationship with customer satisfaction. From philosophical stand this research carried out using positivism philosophy this appropriate for the reason been positivism philosophy provides the best way of investigating human and social behaviour (Aiken, 1956 cited by Smith et al. 2008).The selected approach would be deductive most commonly attached with positivism philosophy. Deductive approach referred as moving towards testing the implemented theory stated by Gray (2009).Data will be done by using primary research which means data collection and analysis will be done by the researcher. The research strategy will be survey strategy, questionnaire method with self administered questions addressing different aspects such as tangibility, responsiveness, reliability, assurance and empathy of the model that is called SERVQUAL. Each factor that are mention above assessing different aspects of service quality. This is a popular model that has been used in many researchers and experts in the field of service quality in evaluation. These self administered questions will be sent to students making the use of internet through email where they fill complete the questionnaire. Data collected will be in the form of qualitative. Measurements have been taken to increase reliability and validity of the research by conducting a piloting for the questionnaire before itââ‚¬â„¢s has been send to the selected sample.
From the above discussions it appears to be that service quality plays a vital role when students selecting their higher education institutes to study.
Conceptual discussion on specific research question and objectives
Increasing importance of service quality in higher education sector and it relationship with customer satisfaction has created area of interest of conducting a research. The research is making an effort to identify what is service quality in point of view of the student and assessing the quality in aspects tangibility, responsiveness, reliability, assurance, empathy. Significance of this research is that it attempt to identify what is main aspect out of above five that grab the most attention or that make most impact of customers mind when he/she determining service quality. The objectives for the research would be
The questionnaire was formed on the basis of model SERVQUAL and 10 questions been asked from the participants on the aspects of tangibility, responsiveness, reliability, assurance, empathy. These questions have been separated by only undergraduate and post graduate students .Moreover research was conducted making use of quantitative data collection method using self administered online questionnaire and was conducted in during summer holidays of the university.
Therefore there are some visible limitations for this research. The data collected in the form of quantitative method allows participants to answers only the questions that researcher has included in the questionnaire. Meaning it limits participants by giving comments which is considered as qualitative data Stated by Saunders et al (2009).
Furthermore the time period research was carried out was on summer holidays. Therefore the participants were less than expected.