Managing service quality in HE: is SERVQUAL the answer? Part 1

Peter F. Cuthbert (Peter F. Cuthbert is Senior Lecturer in Data Processing and course leader, BA (Hons) Business Administration, at the Department of Business and Management Studies, Crewe+Alsager Faculty, Manchester Metropolitan University, Crewe, UK)

Managing Service Quality: An International Journal

ISSN: 0960-4529

Publication date: 1 April 1996


Explains the need for a valid and reliable instrument for course managers to evaluate their product through customer feedback as part of the system of quality assurance, and examines the justification for viewing higher education as a service provision with the student body as the customer. Provides a short review of the existing tools for measuring student experience, along with the rationale for testing a modified version of the SERVQUAL instrument. The instrument was completed by volunteers from three undergraduate degrees (n = 134) in class time just before the Christmas vacation. Analysis of the results revealed higher average perception scores than expectation scores on every dimension except tangibles. However, analysis also revealed rather lower reliability coefficients than those achieved by Parasuraman or later replication studies. Factor analysis did not support the original five SERVQUAL dimensions in line with other replication studies. Considers the reasons for the low reliability score and the different factor structure. In particular, proposes the modified instrument’s lack of focus on a specific aspect of the complex service experience as a possible source of error. Recommends that the elements of service quality should be revisited and a higher education‐specific instrument for course managers should be constructed.



Cuthbert, P. (1996), "Managing service quality in HE: is SERVQUAL the answer? Part 1", Managing Service Quality: An International Journal, Vol. 6 No. 2, pp. 11-16.

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Copyright © 1996, MCB UP Limited

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