Importance-performance analysis of service quality in higher education: a case study.

AuthorLakkoju, Srinivas
PositionCase study

This study evaluates service quality perceptions of two groups of students engaged in management education. It identifies the most influential characteristics as quality of lectures, quality of seminars, knowledge and experience of academic staff and career services. The least influential characteristics are: willingness of the academic staff to provide individual attention and physical appearance of the institution. Importance-Performance Matrix of the first year recognizes all 24 characteristics as areas to maintain while that of the final year indicates the quality of seminars, social opportunities. careers service, internal student feedback system, etc. as areas to be improved. Overall, the study clearly notices declining quality from preceding year to succeeding year on several fronts.


Any country's social and economic development largely depends on the status and quality of its higher education system (HES). Having around 21000 institutions, the Indian HES has emerged as the largest in the world (FICCI, 2009). However, the system is beset by issues of quality in many of its institutions: a chronic shortage of faculty, poor quality teaching, outdated and rigid curricula and pedagogy, lack of accountability and quality assurance and separation of research and teaching (Lynne, 2014). Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh also said (2007): "Our university system is in a state of disrepair. Almost two-thirds of our universities and 90 percent of our colleges are rated as below average on quality parameters.... in many states university appointments, including that of vice-chancellors, have been politicized and have become subject to caste and communal considerations. There are complaints of favoritism and corruption." Recently, NASSCOM-McKinsey's report (2015) identified low employability of existing talent with only 10-15 percent employable graduates in business services and 26 percent of employable engineers in technology services which continues to be a major challenge facing Indian HES. Although much emphasis was laid in the recent past on the quantitative expansion, there is also a growing concern for quality considerations in the HES.

Review of Literature

For inclusive innovation in HE, a conceptual study emphasized the linkage between HES and national innovation system through various initiatives like incubation labs, innovative pedagogies, assessment of innovative efforts, intellectual property protection, student publications, research towards social problems, etc. (Ravi Shankar & Vijay Kumar, 2015). An empirical study which developed SQM-HEI model revealed that the quality of education depends on the best faculty, excellent physical resources, and a wide range of disciplines and employability of the graduates (Senthilkumar & Arulraj, 2011). Another research aimed at scale development observed that service quality in HE setting comprises seven dimensions viz. input quality, curriculum, academic facilities, industry interaction, interaction quality, support facilities and non-academic processes (Rajani, Sangeeta & Gautam, 2013). Subrahmanyam and Rajasekhar (2012) developed an instrument called HiEdQUAL and explored dimensions viz. teaching and course content, administrative services, academic facilities, campus infrastructure and support services towards evaluating the HES quality. Another research study employed SERVQUAL methodology to identify gaps between student's expectations and perceptions of the actual service received by them and then identified a set of quality components that meet their needs (Sangeeta, Banwet & Karunes, 2004). Further, Ashish and Arun (2006) observed that IT based knowledge management interventions cast an impact on institutional planning, curriculum development, R&D, etc. and enhance quality of HES. Two recently conducted studies observed that the interpretive structural modeling technique helps an institution prioritize the strategic issues in quality assessment and enhancement (Sangeeta, Banwet & Karunes, 2010; Neena & Nagendra, 2012). The existing literature on HES is mostly conceptual in nature. Besides, the research was confined to scale development only and there was no consensus among Indian researchers about the application of a particular tool or technique for measurement of HES quality. The present study employs IPA matrix which is a pioneering and easy to implement technique towards assessment of HES quality thus expected to accelerate research in India.

Objectives of the Study

The basic intent of this study is to evaluate service quality perceptions of students engaged in business education. Thus, the study seeks to accomplish the following specific objectives:

i) To analyze rank-wise importance and performance of HES characteristics

ii) To conduct importance-performance analysis (IPA) of HES characteristics

iii) To compare the HES quality perceptions of first and final year students

iv) To discuss the implications of the results.

Sample Unit & Respondents

A survey was conducted during the month of October, 2015 among the final year and first year MBA students of the autonomous engineering college in Andhra Pradesh, where the author is also a part of the system. The permitted intake of this department is 120 pupils, each year. Out of the actually admitted 200 (91 in 2014 and 109 in 2015), responses were obtained from a total of 100 students (65 of 2014 batch and 35 of 2015 batch). In case of first year students, the selection was based on their performance in the first internal exam and attendance regularity, because they fundamentally lack experience and awareness of academics unlike their seniors.

Hypotheses of the Study

The following hypotheses were formulated to facilitate differential analysis. It was assumed that there was no significant difference between the perceptions held by final and first year MBA students as regards the performance of: teaching ([H1.sub.0]), academic staff ([H2.sub.0]), course structure and academic facilities ([H3.sub.0]), administrative staff ([H4.sub.0]), personal development ([H5.sub.0]) and other aspects...

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