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Quality of higher education: International students’ satisfaction and learning experience

Inga Lapina (Faculty of Engineering Economics and Management, Riga Technical University, Riga, Latvia)
Renāte Roga (Riga Technical University, Riga, Latvia)
Peeter Müürsepp (School of Economics and Business Administration, Tallinn University of Technology, Tallinn, Estonia)

International Journal of Quality and Service Sciences

ISSN: 1756-669X

Article publication date: 19 September 2016




Higher education institutions (HEIs) are becoming more aware of the effects of globalization and of the fact that the need for international work experience, as well as partially or fully acquired education abroad, is increasing. The aim of the research is to analyze factors influencing international students’ decision regarding the country and HEIs and to evaluate students’ learning experience and satisfaction with their choice to develop suggestions for the improvement of different dimensions related to the quality and export of higher education.


Several research methods, such as literature review, logical and comparative analysis, as well as the empirical method to obtain information by conducting a survey, and the induction method to interpret and generalize the survey results are applied in this research. To discover learning experiences and determinants of students’ choice of the host country and HEI, research was carried out, under which two questionnaires were developed. The survey involved foreign students from seven HEIs in Latvia and one Estonian university.


The environment in which HEIs operate is becoming more open to the increasing international influence and competition and leads to increasing opportunities for international studies and choice available to students. The quality of the academic staff and study programmes are the most important factors in creating value for the student. As a result of the research, suggestions for higher education quality improvement and export development have been structured within economics, culture and quality dimensions into three levels – individual, institutional and state.

Research limitations/implications

The study does not analyze the foreign students’ countries of origin in terms of political, economic situations or other factors. Upon researching the proportion of foreign students in Latvian HEIs, it was found that most students acquire education in Riga; therefore, regional HEIs have not been included in the survey.


The results obtained can be used to improve the quality of higher education and encourage the export of higher education by introducing the necessary changes in the areas identified during the research at the state as well as HEI level. The authors also provide an insight into the areas where implementation of changes is necessary to improve the international students’ level of satisfaction and their learning experience.



The research and paper development were supported by the National Research Programme 5.2. “Economic Transformation, smart growth, governance and legal framework for the state and society for sustainable development – a new approach to the creation of a sustainable learning community – EKOSOC – LV”.


Lapina, I., Roga, R. and Müürsepp, P. (2016), "Quality of higher education: International students’ satisfaction and learning experience", International Journal of Quality and Service Sciences, Vol. 8 No. 3, pp. 263-278.



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Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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