Article Title

Are they being served? Student expectations of higher education


The current climate in tertiary education places students as primary consumers. As such, students are becoming more conscious of their customer rights and of gaps between their expectations of service delivery and the reality of that service. Not only does this service gap present a quality assurance challenge for universities, it is also likely to contribute to student withdrawal. In week one of the first semester 2001, a sample of 56 first year psychology students volunteered to complete the SERVQUAL questionnaire (Riddings, Sidhu, & Pokarier, 2000) to assess their expectations of university in terms of academic and Administrative staff. The process was repeated in the final week of semester based on the reality of their experience. Results indicate there is a significant difference between students' expectations and their reality, with expectations being higher. In order to locate these results in context, a number of interviews were conducted with second to fourth year psychology students to identify their experience with the School of Psychology. These results indicate a very high level of satisfaction with the School of Psychology but less satisfaction with the wider university experience in terms of logistical issues. Naturally no assumptions of generalisability are made from this study as the purpose was to elicit detailed information pertaining to the School of Psychology at one specific university. Implications from this study are discussed and avenues for further research explored.



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