n South African Journal of Higher Education - Image and academic expectations of different levels of university students : a South African case




Over the past decade the educational environment has not only become more competitive but also more commercialised. These trends have contributed to the introduction of service quality measurement at higher education institutions. Traditionally institutions assume that students have relatively homogeneous needs and expectations and the result is the provision of uniform services. Over time this approach has been questioned, particularly arguing that perceptions of services and service expectations do change over time. This is even more prominent where entry-level students are required to adapt to service systems and standards and senior students have a better and more realistic understanding of the actual environment within which service delivery takes place. Ultimately this exposure impacts on student expectations of service.

The aim of this article is to investigate the expectations of entry level and senior students regarding specific attributes of tertiary institutions. Challenges in the higher education sector and the marketing aspects thereof, with specific reference to the service quality associated with the image and marketing and academic related issues, are reviewed. The data represents these two student groups in a South African university setting and considers the extent to which these elements are viewed differently. Findings indicate that academic rigour is the most important factor with regard to image and marketing aspects. Likewise, with regard to academic importance, approachable staff, class fees and the range of modules offered are being perceived as most important.


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