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Student satisfaction is important in a higher education institution’s strategy in a competitive private higher education sector. What drives student satisfaction and retention is service quality, which includes a combination of excellent learning and non-learning aspects. This paper is based on non-traditional students at a private Higher Education Institute (PHEI) in South Africa which offers undergraduate and postgraduate distance learning programmes to adult learners in full-time employment. The study aims to explore the postgraduate students’ current satisfaction levels based on the service (quality) provided by the administrative staff, who are known as Programme Conveners (PCs). The research problem is that the current feedback survey conducted by the Institute does not provide sufficient information on the student satisfaction with the quality of service provided by the PCs.
A descriptive design and quantitative approach were adopted to conduct a survey among a convenience sample of masters and doctorate students, using the validated SERVQUAL instrument. It was determined that of most concern to the students from among the four SERVQUAL dimensions is Responsiveness and Reliability. Thus, the PHEI needs to identify, define and strengthen the elements of the aforementioned SERVQUAL instrument if it intends to improve student satisfaction.
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