Experience and satisfaction: Exploring students’ perceptions of private and public higher education services

  • Received February 2, 2023;
    Accepted April 11, 2023;
    Published May 18, 2023
  • Author(s)
  • DOI
    http://dx.doi.org/10.21511/ppm.21(2).2023.36
  • Article Info
    Volume 21 2023, Issue #2, pp. 371-382
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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

Higher education institutions (HEIs) operate in a dynamic environment driven by increasing competition, reduced funding and the deteriorating South African economy. Understanding the needs of students as customers puts pressure on HEIs to provide a unique customer experience to gain a competitive advantage, as both private and public HEIs compete not only for funding but also for prospective students. This study takes a business perspective of higher education by examining how students relate higher education service providers’ (academic and administrative staff) attitudes towards them, to their perceptions of service experience and satisfaction using a sample of 411 students and 428 employees from private and public HEIs in SA. Convenience random sampling was used to identify and select research participants. SPSS Version 22 was used to perform descriptive and inferential statistical analysis, and structural equation modelling was used to test seven (7) hypotheses. The study results highlighted important issues relating to customer-oriented behaviour in the HE industry. Students are more likely to have positive higher education experiences and be satisfied with services when higher education service providers are customer-focused and have a positive attitude towards students. This study recommends that HEIs ensure that their frontline employees (academics and administrators) are customer-focused and empowered to drive continuous improvement activities to enhance the overall customer experience and student satisfaction while maintaining academic integrity.

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    • Figure 1. Path analysis showing the relationships in the latent constructs
    • Table 1. Reliability and validity of the measurement model
    • Table 2. Model fitness indices for the CFA model
    • Table 3. Path regression estimate
    • Table 4. Cronbach alpha reliability coefficient
    • Table 5. Summary of decisions on the hypotheses for private HEIs
    • Table 6. Summary of decisions on the hypotheses for public HEIs
    • Conceptualization
      Krishna Govender
    • Methodology
      Krishna Govender
    • Resources
      Krishna Govender
    • Supervision
      Krishna Govender
    • Writing – original draft
      Krishna Govender
    • Writing – review & editing
      Krishna Govender, Estelle David
    • Data curation
      Estelle David
    • Formal Analysis
      Estelle David
    • Investigation
      Estelle David
    • Project administration
      Estelle David
    • Software
      Estelle David
    • Validation
      Estelle David