Service quality and student satisfaction

The purpose of this study is to investigate the relationship between university facilities or services and student satisfaction that occurs in a Malaysian public university in Sabah namely Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS). By studying, we are able to know whether it has a forthright effect of facility or service quality on the student satisfaction. In addition, we are also be able to grasp a better understanding of the nature of services and facilities offered to students in higher learning institution and their perceptions towards it.

There are few problems identified in this study based on the service quality gap model that have been developed by Parasuraman, Zeithaml and Barry (1985). According to the model Parasuraman, Zeithaml and Barry (1985) perceived service quality can be define as the difference between customers’ expectation which eventually depend on the size and direction of the four gaps concerning the delivery of service quality on the company’s side. The first gap is the difference between what customers expected and what management perceived about the expectation of the customer.

As what is observed, students expect when enrolling themselves as a student in UMS, accommodation will be provided throughout their education as long as grades are excellent and active in extracurricular activities in the university. Thus, till today there are third or fourth year students are active and excel in grades still having difficulties in applying for accommodation from the university’s administration. As Parasuraman et al. (1985) consummate, an absence of understanding of this gap will have an impact on the consumer’s evaluation of the service quality.

As for the second gap, it is the difference between management perceptions of customer expectation and service quality specifications. As it is seen, UMS management administration find it difficult to deliver what students expects. A student may have problem in terms of application of their subjects and expect by approaching one of the faculty staffs and here, bureaucracy will take place thus, making it hard to deliver what the student expect which is an instant result of the matter resolved. Parasuraman et al. 1985) conclude that difficulty in establishing specifications to deliver a fast response uniformly is due to lack of trained service personnel and the wide range of function demand. For the third gap, it is about differences between service quality specifications and service actually delivered. As what students had observed, UMS has transportation issues namely the bus services within the university compound. Students sometimes have to wait an hour for a ride back to their respective hostels.

UMS would definitely want to deliver a quality service but due to some reasons they can’t deliver. According to the author Parasuraman et al. (1985), high service quality cannot be guaranteed even there are guidelines for excellent services this is due to indication of employees of Service Company that plays a vital role in service quality as every employee’s performance cannot always be standardized. Lastly for the fourth gap, it is the difference between service delivery and what is communicated to customers about the service.

As students in UMS it is well communicated that UMS suppose to have better facilities as it is seen UMS are trying to improve their facilities by building new lecture and examination hall. Hence, UMS tend to forget about improving the existing schools. Certain schools have better facilties than other schools thus emerge the question of fairness between students. As contended by the author Parasuraman et al. (1985), promising more than can be delivered will eventually have a detrimental effect on customer because it will raises initial expeactations but lowers perception quality.