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Evaluating service quality and performance of higher education institutions: a systematic review and a post-COVID-19 outlook

Mark Anthony Camilleri (Department of Corporate Communication, Faculty of Media and Knowledge Sciences, University of Malta, Msida, Malta and The Business School, The University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK)

International Journal of Quality and Service Sciences

ISSN: 1756-669X

Article publication date: 19 May 2021

Issue publication date: 23 June 2021




This study aims to present a systematic review on service quality in higher education. It discusses about the latest opportunities and challenges facing higher educational institutions (HEIs) following the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.


The study relied on the grounded theory’s inductive reasoning to capture, analyze and synthesize the findings from academic and non-academic sources. The methodology involved a systematic review from Scopus-indexed journals, from intergovernmental and non-governmental policy documents, as well as from university ranking sites and league tables.


The comprehensive review suggests that HEIs can use different performance indicators and metrics to evaluate their service quality in terms of their resources, student-centered education, high-impact research and stakeholder engagement. Moreover, this paper sheds light about the impact of an unprecedented COVID-19 on higher education services.

Practical implications

During the first wave of COVID-19, the delivery of higher educational services migrated from traditional and blended learning approaches to fully virtual and remote course delivery. In the second wave, policy makers imposed a number of preventative measures, including social distancing and hygienic practices, among others, on HEIs.


This timely contribution has synthesized the findings on service quality and performance management in the higher education context. Furthermore, it investigated the effect of COVID-19 on higher education services. It deliberates on the challenges and responses in the short/medium term and provides a discussion on the way forward. In conclusion, it implies that HEI leaders ought to embrace online teaching models and virtual systems, as they are here to stay in a post-COVID-19 era.



Camilleri, M.A. (2021), "Evaluating service quality and performance of higher education institutions: a systematic review and a post-COVID-19 outlook", International Journal of Quality and Service Sciences, Vol. 13 No. 2, pp. 268-281.



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