It is not easy to grasp the concept of “value” in the higher education context. In fact, different stakeholders generally hold diverging perspectives about the value generated by Higher Education Institutions (HEIs). The purpose of this paper is to disentangle the value expectations and perceptions of current and former students (i.e. the main stakeholders) of a medium-sized university established in Northern Italy.
A mixed, qualitative–quantitative case study was undertaken. A semi-structured survey was delivered through a computer-assisted web interview technique to a sample of 2,572 people. Inter alia, the interviewees were asked to express their value perceptions and value expectations toward the case institution and to rate their own assessment of educational services’ quality.
The respondents felt that the university was effective in delivering functional, extrinsic and intrinsic value; conversely, they perceived several gaps in the case institution’s ability to accomplish emotional and relational value. Moreover, the interviewees argued that the institution was unsuccessful in establishing a bridge between higher education and the labor market, focussing on conceptual issues, rather than on experiential learning and soft skills.
The gap between the students’ value expectations and perceptions hampers the perceived quality of educational services. The lack of awareness of this gap is thought to trigger organizational inertia, which contributes to the impoverishment of educational services’ quality.
The paper sheds light on different value perceptions and expectations held by students of a medium-sized HEI; also, it provides some insights into the organizational and management implications of diverging value perceptions and expectations of students.
Cavallone, M., Manna, R. and Palumbo, R. (2020), "Filling in the gaps in higher education quality: An analysis of Italian students’ value expectations and perceptions", International Journal of Educational Management, Vol. 34 No. 1, pp. 203-216. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJEM-06-2019-0189Download as .RIS
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