International postgraduate students’ perceptions of service quality


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South African universities have embraced a drive to internationalize in view of globalization. One of the widely adopted measures towards internationalization has been the recruitment of international postgraduate scholars. The rationale is to draw diverse knowledge and expertise from the international students. However, the University of KwaZulu Natal’s Westville campus has not managed to attract a significant number of international scholars. The trend suggests that the university is unable to meet the expectations of international postgraduate students with regards to service delivery. The suggestion is premised on the argument that the previous and current international postgraduate students have not been satisfied with the service quality to stimulate other foreign postgraduate student enrolments through positive word of mouth. The main objective of the study was to confirm the assertions while exposing the gaps between their expectations and perceptions of service delivery at the university. The SERVQUAL model was used to guide the assessment of service quality among the research participants. The study adopted quantitative methodologies and data was drawn from international postgraduate students who were enrolled at the institution during the academic year 2016. The findings revealed that the international postgraduate students were dissatisfied with the levels of service at the university. Specifically, the study exposed gaps across all the five dimensions of service quality, namely reliability, responsiveness, assurance, empathy and tangibles. It was concluded that the management at the university should institute deliberate measures to improve service quality, especially towards international postgraduate students.

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    • Table 1. Service quality gap mean scores
    • Table 2. Gap scores and respondents’ gender
    • Table 3. Gap scores and respondents’ age groups
    • Table 4. Gap scores and respondents’ levels of study