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Education service delivery and students' satisfaction: a study of private colleges in Malaysia.


Education is one of the most important industries and playing a vital role in national development. In relation to the importance of education, Brunat (2006) has studied on the relationship between education and economic growth. Based on the findings from his study, he found that there is a correlation between education and economic growth but a correlation is not a cause-and-effect relationship. This is supported by the examples of countries like Germany, Japan and the Republic of Korea, in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries respectively, where they suggested that an educated population is a springboard for jumping to high economic performance.

There is a growing interest to use performance management and service quality improvement techniques in educational institutes in order to increase the competitiveness and quality of education in a globalized environment (Nejati et al., 2007).

Private education sector is growing rapidly in Malaysia over the past few years. The aim of this industry is to give an alternative road map for tertiary education for those who failed to get admission into local universities and for those who intend to go for higher education locally. The target approach of the government is to have 20,000 undergraduate students in every public university by 2020 (Education in Malaysia, 2001).

The primary objective of this study was to assess the impact of education service delivery on student satisfaction. The perceived service delivery attributes among the student borrowed from Yu and Dean (2001). The variables consist of six dimensions known as physical environment, course structure and content learning materials, administration, interaction and support at last feedback and assessment.

In fact, the competition in the private education has always been high and private colleges previously obtain high returns for relatively little efforts but now the time has changed and for the better satisfaction of students these private colleges need to change their strategy. Private colleges provide the services delivery to satisfy the student needs. Nowadays, service quality has emerged as a key strategic issue in management (Nejati and Nejati, 2009). As argued by Berry (1995) service is one of the important factors enhancing value, and can positively influence a college success. The students are customers for these colleges and colleges play an important role while helping students to offload potential burdens. The student expectation is an essential component to enhance a college service delivery measures. This means that in order to gain the best satisfaction among the students, we must know the characteristics of the course participants, college environment, lecturer support and many other factors should be considered so that the most effective perceived education service delivery can be provided to them.

This study will give us the view of the individual perspective of student's satisfaction. And on the basis of individual student satisfaction the college will be rated, more research is needed to give us close sight of the consequences and problem faced by the students.

This means that in order to gain the best satisfaction among the students, the characteristics of the course participants, college environment, lecturer support and many other factors should be considered so that the most effective perceived education service delivery can be provided to them. This study will give us the view of the individual perspective of students' satisfaction. Moreover, on the basis of individual student satisfaction, the college will be rated. This study is first of its kind in the private education sector while investigating the perceived service delivery to satisfy the needs and expectations of student. On the other hand, it is also considering the service delivery to improve the environment of private colleges for the satisfaction of the students. This research is a step ahead for perceived service delivery to improve the student's needs and better studying environment especially for the Malaysian private education industry.

Literature Review

Nowadays no organization can succeed unless it can attract and retain enough customers (Nejati et al., 2009). Similarly, colleges and educational institutes need to pay special attention to the students as their main customers and try to provide quality services that satisfy them. Service deliveries are drivers, which contributes to student's satisfaction.

Kasper et al. (1999) define service quality as "the extent to which the service, the service process and the service organization can satisfy the expectations of the user". On the other hand, Gronroos (1978) suggests that service quality is made of two components--technical quality and functional quality. Technical quality refers to what the service provider delivers during the service provision while functional quality is how the service employee provides the service. Parasuraman et al. (1988) also defines service quality as "a function of the difference between service expected and customers' perceptions of the actual service delivered".

The new vision of service delivery is given by Yu and Dean (2001). It has already been argued by Cuthbert (1996) that SERVQUAL is an instrument to measure the satisfaction and dissatisfaction of educational experiences. Then the multi-itemed disconfirmation scale which is relatively similar to SERVQUAL is used to measure the component of satisfaction which is given by Yu and Dean (2001). This scale has been used to measure the cognitive component of satisfaction.

Yu and Dean (2001) have discussed the dimensions of service attributes which focuses on the teaching facilities offered by these private colleges to students in term of feedback and assessment of physical environment, interaction and support, administration, learning materials, course structure and content as shown in the Figure 1.


The evaluation of the service is not only based on the outcome of services. But also on the service cycle which provides that service and is very important. Having a look at the top 100 rating of the Colleges and Universities in the world, it can be noticed that it keeps on changing form time to time. All these ratings depend on many parameters but one of the important parameter is service quality. As said by Zeithaml, Parasuraman and Berry, (1990) the perception of service quality stress form how better provider delivers via a customer.

According to Zeithaml et al. (1990) and Gronroos (2001), the term service is basically heterogeneous, inseparable and intangible offered by the service provider. Comparatively it is not easy for customers to judge good service quality. As discussed by Zeithaml (1987) that service market's service quality is determined by customer's judgment regarding the subject overall excellence or superiority.

The first ever-developed model to measure the service quality and to conceptualize as the gap between customer's perception and expectations of the services was given by Parasuraman et al. (1985) to measure the service quality. In the beginning, the model has ten determinants, including:

(a) Reliability: the ability to deliver the pledged service on time, accurately and dependably.

(b) Responsiveness: the ability to deal effectively with complaints and promptness of the service.

(c) Credibility: the extent to which the service is believed and trusted.

(d) Competence: the necessary skills, knowledge and information to perform the service effectively.

(e) Access: the ease of approachability and contact.

(f) Courtesy: the politeness, respect, consideration and friendliness shown to the customers by the contact personnel.

(g) Security: the freedom from danger, risk and doubt, which involves physical safety, financial security and confidentiality.

(h) Communication: keeping customers informed about the service in a language that they can understand and listening to the customers.

(i) Tangibles: the state of facilitating good, physical condition of the buildings and the environment, appearance of personnel and equipment.

(j)Understanding the customer: this involves trying to understand the customer's needs and specific requirements, providing individualized attention and recognizing regular customer.

In this research, the above ten attributes were condensed into five. The reason to this was to exclude overlap between variables and to refine the original model and improve reliability and validity. The model of SERVQUAL has changed into five dimensions which are as follows:

(1) Tangibles: This dimension includes physical facilities equipments and appearance of personnel. Any Thing that customers can see, hear, touch, test or smell will affect their perception of this dimension.

(2) Reliability: This dimension involves the consistency and reliability of the service performance and the service promise conveyed reliably and accurately to the customer.

(3) Responsiveness: This dimension refers to the staff's willingness to help customer and provide prompt service. Also included is the competence of the staff.

(4) Assurance: This dimension refers to the knowledge and courtesy of employees and their ability to inspire trust and confidence in customer.

(5) Empathy: This dimension refers to the human factors involved in the service performance. Caring, friendliness and individualized attention provided to customers are some of the main aspects of the empathy dimension.

Service problems, and for pure understanding to refine and improve service quality can be used as a tool by this model. As argued by Parasuraman, Zeithmal, and Berry (1994) measurement of service quality that takes into observation and evaluation the customer expectations, provide stronger and comprehensive information as compared to focusing only on perception. They have provided a measuring instrument for service quality in a broader range of service.

Student satisfaction is the term which can be explained and evaluated in many ways. Kaldenberg, Browne and Brown (1998) discussed and found that in the college, student satisfaction was driven by evaluating the quality of coursework and other curriculum activities and other factors related to the college. The lecturers should treat students with sensitivity and sympathy, and assistance should be provided when necessary. Even simple listening is appreciated. For example the lecturers or tutors who fail to turn up in class or arrive late will project a bad image in the students' minds. Also, preparation of lecture or tutorial material could be devalued by such behaviors. Grossman (1999) discussed that student could be treated like a customer or a client within the college and in that case, the college serve the students on a better priority to fulfill their expectations and needs. According to Oliver (1980) "disconfirmation of expectation" model of satisfaction explaining that consumer satisfaction is the result of comparison between company performance and customer expectation. The performance is very important to evaluate the student satisfaction.

Patterson, Johnson and Spreng (1997) argued statistically that there is a strong bond between customer satisfactions and repurchase intentions. The repurchase in term of students recommending the college to friends and relatives was heavily influenced by the extent of interactions between the student and college. It is a complex phenomenon to measure the student satisfaction, considering their level of education and their various expectations. However, as argued by Babin and Griffin (1998) there are a number of satisfaction measurement scales lacking face validity due to contamination of other related constructs. As discussed by Athiyaman (1997), student satisfaction is type of attitude, which is not durable and varies form time to time and it is for short period measuring the student's educational experience. Messer and Mires (2001) discussed that a well-designed performance management should be the cornerstone of a firm's employee development efforts. They further argued that the traditional view of employee development as what takes place in a classroom is much too narrow. The more effective, broader view requires that firms understand the meaning of performance management. These collages do need to focus on the student development and give them more effective trainings and skills that can guide the students. The student satisfaction is best tested when the performance results are realized when lecturers gives feedback.

Research Hypotheses

There are hypotheses developed from the research model, in order to test the influences of independent variables as follows:

H1: The student's satisfaction of private colleges is significantly influenced by the perceived service delivery.

H1a: There is as significant positive relationship between physical environment and the student satisfaction.

H1b: There is a significant relationship between interaction and support influencing student satisfaction.

H1c: There is a significant relationship between structure and contents influencing student satisfaction.

H1d: There is a significant relationship between feedback and assessment influencing student satisfaction.

H1e: There is a significant relationship between Administration and student satisfaction.

H1f: There is a significant relationship between learning materials and student satisfaction.


A pilot study was undertaken using 5 students from one of private collage in Penang. The time taken to complete the questionnaire ranged from15-20 minutes. Feedback on clarity of words and instructions were good, with no assistance needed.

The study is conducted in the Private collages in Penang. The list of these private colleges was taken from Malaysian education websites and popular search engines such as Google and Yahoo. The respondents were students from private colleges. The students were randomly selected from different courses and programs from private colleges.

As mentioned before, the population for this research consisted of students of Private colleges of Penang. 200 students were selected randomly from these colleges. To achieve the objectives of the research, convenient sampling method was used among the 10 private colleges in Penang. However, due to the semester break, the response rate was low, however, a total 200 self administered questionnaires were distributed among respondents in the private colleges.

To ensure higher return rates the unfilled questionnaires were again distributed to the colleges where the response rate was higher, in order to compensate the adequate number of samples.

The dependent variable (student satisfaction) was an ordinal variable with the 1-5 scale from strongly agree to strongly disagree which investigated the factors influencing the improvement of the students satisfaction in private colleges. A total of 200 questionnaires were distributed to diploma, and bachelor students in the private colleges. From the total number of 200 questionnaires distributed, 166 were returned; therefore, the response rate was about 83%. However, some of the questionnaires were not fully completed by the respondents and hence they were abandoned from the analysis. Finally, a total of 108 usable questionnaire remained.

Most of the respondents were Chinese (77.8%). Following them were Malay (7.4%), Indian (9.3%) and other different races respondents such as Siks (Punjabies) and mix respondents (5.6%).

Result and Analysis

In order to determine the reliability of the research method and the questionnaire, the Cronbach Alpha has been used (See Table 1). Through this method, it has been ensured that the items comprising factors produced a reliable scale. According to Sekaran (2003) the level of reliabilities less than 0.60 are considered to be poor and questionable. As discussed by Nunnally (1967), the reliability of 0.50 to 0.60 is acceptable for the beginning levels of research, but Sekaran (2003) said that reliability over 0.80 is considered good; where as in the range of 0.70 is considered acceptable.

Hypotheses Testing

To examine the perceived service delivery with student satisfaction, multiple regression analysis has been used. The basic objectives of the multiple regression analysis were inspected, to ascertain the requirements were fulfilled. The independent variable was perceived service delivery and the dependent variable was student satisfaction. The regression results are presented in Table 2.

The summary in Table 2 shows that the R square was 65.1% indicating that 65.1% of variance in is explained by independent variables perceived knowledge management and perceived service attributes. Durbin-Watson index was 2.099, which falls within the range of 1.50 to 2.50, meaning that there is no auto correlation problem. The tolerance value for all variables was more than 0.10 and the variance inflation faction (VIF) was less than 10. Hence, it shows no serious colinearity among variables.


The student satisfaction has been identified as a behavior that distinguishes between satisfaction levels between the students. Therefore, student's behavior could possibly be controlled and managed with regard to perceived service attributes in term of satisfaction of students to meet their expectations and needs. In regards with this, factors such as physical environment, interaction and support, structure and content, feedback and assessment, administration and learning materials were measured. The study findings show that the perceived benefits of the dimension on the student satisfaction were found to be related to course structure, content, feedback and assessment, and administration (significant at P < .05). The significant levels are supported for H1.c, H1.d and H1.e, while the rest of them were insignificant. All of the variables for student satisfaction were taken form private colleges and they were selected based on those highly related to educational environment.

This study is based on evaluation of students satisfaction based on increased recognition in service industry and greater emphasis on meeting the expectations and needs of students as discussed by Cheng & Tam (1997). In order to be competitive and flourishing in the private education sector, the private colleges must identify what is top priority to the students and on the bases of these objectives students should be delivered what they expect from the private college. As it is observed by many researchers, the service delivery can be maintained and it has longterm attitude implications, where as consumer satisfaction is a transitory judgment and keeps on changing according to the delivery of service, and it cannot me maintained.

Suggestions for Future Research

For educational institutes including colleges and universities, it is very important to have an ongoing monitoring of the quality of their services and their service delivery and performance levels. The future research must identify other variables that contribute to students' satisfaction. In this research, the main idea lies on population and sampling selection approach. As this study is a limited study and it has covered the problem to a certain extent, basically the study was focused on specific population and sampling. At the same time service delivery (physical environment, interaction and support structure and content, feedback and assessment, administration, and at the last learning materials) were put as variables contributing to student satisfaction.

Received 15 February 2009

Reviewed 24 March 2009

Revised 26 March 2009

Accepted 26 March 2009


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Corresponding author

Fawad Hussain can be contacted at:

Fawad Husain, Suhaiza Hanim, Yudi Fernando, and Mostafa Nejati

School of Management, Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), Penang, Malaysia
Table l. Reliability Coefficients of Variables

 No of items Alpha
Variables Total Items deleted Coefficient

Physical Environment 4 1 0.81
Interaction and support 4 1 0.78
Structure and content 2 None 0.68
Feed back and assessment 3 None 0.81
Administration 3 None 0.81
Learning Materials 2 2 0.78
Student Satisfaction 5 None 0.90

Table 2. Multiple Regression Analysis Indicators

Independent Variable Beta Sig

Physical Environment 0.062 0.365
Interaction and support 0.132 0.106
Structure, content, Feedback and assessment 0.359 0.000
Administration 0.223 0.010

Model Summary

R Square 0.651
Adj R Square 0.625
Sig 0.000
Durbin Watson 2.099
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Author:Husain, Fawad; Hanim, Suhaiza; Fernando, Yudi; Nejati, Mostafa
Publication:Global Business and Management Research: An International Journal
Article Type:Report
Date:Jan 1, 2009
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