n South African Journal of Higher Education - Market segmentation using quality perceptions : an investigation into a higher education

Volume 19, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1011-3487



There is an increasing awareness in interpreting quality in higher education in terms of a 'multi-customer focus'. This awareness coincides with a growing interest in market segmentation in the higher education sector in order to address the needs of students that hold different perceptions on the quality of higher education. This research suggests that students should to be segmented on quality perceptions rather than either expectations or service quality attribute importance, as service quality judgement is affected by actual perceptions. Using a quality perception approach developed by Woo (1998) the study was able to identify three distinct clusters of students which have different service quality perceptions towards higher education institutions. The distinct clusters were based on seven factors that influenced service quality in higher education, namely: quality of lecturers, lecturing arrangements, support systems, support facilities, manageability of programme, physical logistics and intellectual value. These new insights into the segmentation of the higher education sector are particular importance to educators as service can be tailored to students that have very different quality perceptions. To ensure that institutions are both tailored and proactive to student needs and offer quality higher education, market segmentation of its customer base is as important as in any other industry.

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