Service quality determinants at Zimbabwean state universities

Date02 July 2018
Published date02 July 2018
AuthorArnold Moyo,Sothini Natalia Ngwenya
Subject MatterEducation,Curriculum, instruction & assessment,Educational evaluation/assessment
Service quality determinants at
Zimbabwean state universities
Arnold Moyo and Sothini Natalia Ngwenya
Department of Marketing, National University of Science and Technology,
Bulawayo, Zimbabwe
Purpose This research sought to empirically identify context specic dimensions of service quality at
Zimbabwean State Universities. The study also sought to measure the university-wideoverall service
quality at NationalUniversity of Science and Technology (NUST) and to exploredifferences in service quality
perceptionbased on selected studentsdemographic characteristics.
Design/methodology/approach A case study strategy was used. Focus group discussionswere used
to qualitatively identify service quality variables; which were then subjected to quantitative evaluation
through the administrationof questionnaires on a sample of 294 students. Exploratory Factor Analysis was
used to reducethe service quality variables into service quality dimensions.
Findings Five dimensions of service quality were identied, namely: General Attitude, Facilitating
Elements, Access,Lecture Rooms and Health Services. Results alsoshowed that most students (48.3 per cent)
perceived overall servicequality at NUST to be average while 28.6 per cent and 23.1 per cent had a negative
and positive perceptionof overall service quality respectively. Perceivedoverall service quality at NUST was
found to differ signicantly based on studentsyear of studyand faculty group. Differences based on
gender werefound to be insignicant.
Originality/value Identication of the ve dimensionswas a progressive step in developing a relevant
service quality measurement instrument for a Zimbabwean State University context; and in so doing,
contributing to literatureon relevant service quality dimensions and measurementinstruments in Zimbabwe
and Africa in general.This was the rst such study in Zimbabwe to address thecontext specic literature-gap
on relevantservice quality dimensions.
Keywords University, Quality, Education, Determinants, Service, Zimbabwe
Paper type Research paper
This paper empirically explores determinants of service quality at state universities in
Zimbabwe. This research tookplace on the backdrop of increasing competition among state
universities in the country. This competitionresulted from:
an increase in the number of State Universities;
inadequate nancial support from Central Government;
Introduction of parallel (evening) and block-release (part time) programmes; and
a general increase in student enrolment levels.
Such competition in other parts of the world has resulted in Higher Education (HE)
providers becomingmore involved in understanding studentsexpectationsand perceptions
of service quality (Nadiri et al.,2009). Hill et al. (2003) noted that Studentsviews on all
aspects of their Higher Education (HE) experience were being widely canvassed and were
considered to be essential to the effective monitoring of quality in universities; and
Zimbabwean State Universitiesneed to do the same.
Received18 July 2016
Revised8 April 2017
Accepted4 May 2018
QualityAssurance in Education
Vol.26 No. 3, 2018
pp. 374-390
© Emerald Publishing Limited
DOI 10.1108/QAE-07-2016-0036
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
While there is currently an abundance of research and literature that discusses the
subject of student perceived service quality, nearly all of the literature concerning
student perceived service quality is conducted in the context of developed countries
(Sumaedi et al., 2012). Ford et al. (1999),Lagrosen et al. (2004), Mai (2005) and Kao
(2007); all cited by Sumaedi et al. (2012); have provided empirical evidence suggesting
that students with different cultures have different views of service quality providedby
a University. The general position of literature was that service quality determinants
were culture and country specic(Owino et al., 2014;Sumaedi et al., 2012 and Wong,
2012). Zimbabwe therefore could not rely on existing research. Instead, a new study
needed to be undertaken to establish relevant determinants of service quality in a
Zimbabwean State University context.
The results of this study could bring new insights and understanding of the quality
construct in the context of Zimbabwe as a developing country. In addition, this study
responded to the call by Owino et al. (2014) for a closer examination of service quality
dimensions in developing countries. Furthermore, it is important to satisfy students,
since satised students would recommend the service to other prospective students and
wouldalsobemorelikelytocontinuetherelationship with the service provider
(Munteanu et al., 2010). Therefore, since the student was the main recipient of the
service, it became even more crucial to understand service quality and its inuence on
the service delivery process, in an attempt to full studentsneeds more effectively
(Beaumont, 2012).
The overarching problem of this study was that determinants of student perceived
service quality had never been established for a Zimbabwean State University
context. According to existing literature, only Kenya (Kimani et al., 2011;Owino et al.,
2014) and South Africa (Jager and Gbadamosi, 2009) had conducted such studies in
The specic purpose of the study was to: establish the criteria that students use to
evaluate service quality,that is, determinants of student perceived service qualityapplicable
to Zimbabwean State Universities. The study also sought to measure the university-wide
overall service quality at National University of Science and Technology (NUST) as well as
to explore any service quality perceptual differences based on selected students
demographic categories.
The following questionssought to be answered by the study:
Q1. What are the determinantsof service quality in Zimbabwes State Universities?
Q2. What is the overall studentperception of service quality at NUST?
Q3. Are there any differences in the perception of overall service quality based on
studentsyearof study, gender, and Faculty?
The following hypotheseswere also tested:
. There is no difference in student perceived service quality based on students
year of study; H
: There is a difference in student perceived service quality
based on studentsyearof study.
.There is no difference in student perceived service quality based on students
gender; H
: There is a difference in student perceived service quality based on

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