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Title: An investigation of students’ experience of service quality delivered by administrative staff at one site of a South African comprehensive university
Authors: Ntoyakhe, Mxolisi Walter 
Issue Date: May-2018
Over the last decade the institutional framework within which most universities in South Africa operate has undergone major transformation forcing the higher education sector to become more competitive in its approach to attracting and retaining quality students. Against this background, service quality has been put forward as a critical determinant of competitiveness. Higher Education Institutions are increasingly placing greater emphasis on meeting students’ expectations and needs. As institutions of higher learning become more student orientated, student perceptions of higher educational facilities and services are becoming more essential. It is clear that there is a need to measure students’ experience of service quality in order to develop innovative academic structures, facilities and services to retain and attract new students. Therefore, this study used a mixed research approach and a nonprobability sampling technique to identify the sample size.

The purpose of this study was to investigate the students’ experience of service quality delivered by administrative staff at one site of a South African Comprehensive University. Underpinned by the Gap Model of service delivery and an adapted SERVQUAL instrument, this study sought to determine perceptions and expectations of service quality across five dimensions, namely: tangibles; reliability; responsiveness; assurance; and empathy. Questionnaires were used as data collection instrument to collect data from two hundred and sixty (260) registered students; twelve (12) academic departments, residence and library administrative staff members. Questionnaires were used to gather data from administrative staff of academic department, library and residence; and registered students in one comprehensive university in South Africa. Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) version 24 was used to analyse the data. Statistical tools that include frequencies, mean scores and tabulations were utilized to present the data from findings. The Wilcoxon signed ranks test was also utilized to further analyse the significance of the gaps. Various gaps between students’ perceptions and expectations indicating dissatisfaction with administrative services particularly among the students were identified. The findings from the study indicated that, a negative service quality gap exists at selected site of Comprehensive University in SA. The

findings further suggested that issues such as service quality planning and monitoring, establishing recovery mechanisms for service failures, and student- driven service design and standards need to be high on the agenda at higher education institutions to ensure service quality. All five dimensions of SERVQUAL indicated a negative score or quality gap suggesting that the administrators of selected departments need to urgently close the gaps that exist at their institution; key recommendations were thus made to improve the gaps identified. Frequent interaction between the administrators and the students is recommended for the university as it provides important information on student expectations and perceptions. Continuous employee training to improve the existing skills is also recommended for comprehensive university employees as it can have a good impact on meeting the students’ expectations of the service quality dimensions. The study therefore, concluded that the university needed urgent intervention in terms of developing proper academic support structures, facilities and quality services that would satisfy the needs of students
Submitted in fulfillment of the requirements for the Masters of Management Sciences in Administration and Information Management, Durban University of Technology, Durban, South Africa, 2018.
Appears in Collections:Theses and dissertations (Accounting and Informatics)

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