Magazine article Journal of Services Research

A Comparative Analysis of International Education Satisfaction Using Servqual

Magazine article Journal of Services Research

A Comparative Analysis of International Education Satisfaction Using Servqual

Article excerpt

(ProQuest-CSA LLC: ... denotes formula omitted.)

INTRODUCTION

University education, the world over, has under gone significant transformation and reform with respect to higher education systems meeting the growing role of information and communication revolution, and the demand for knowledge, which represent the new challenges of globalisation (Salmi, 2001; Marginson, 1998). These challenges are seen as threats as well as opportunities for higher education systems around the world. Drucker (1997) has boldly predicted the demise of "traditional universities" with the growth of open and online universities. The extent to which these new learning institutions would impact on campus based teaching and learning is yet to be seen. This challenge, however, has produced significant changes in the way that higher educational institutions operate. These changes include the emergence of new types of institutions, patterns of financing and governance, curriculum reforms, and technological innovations (Salmi, 2001).

The driving force of globalisation is competition and the international education market has become fiercely competitive with different marketing strategies being implemented by educational institutions to attract the growing number of students seeking higher education. A study by International Development Programs (IDP) Australia estimates that the global demand for international higher education will grow fourfold to approximately 7.2 million students, by 2025, representing a 5.8% compound growth rate between 2000- 2025. According to this study, the major growth will come from the Asia Pacific, accounting for a compound growth rate of 7.8% and over 70% of the world demand. As regional blocks within Asia Pacific, South Asia and East Asia are expected to record the highest growth rates of 8.6% and 8.4% respectively during this period with China and India emerging as two major sources of international students (see Table 1). It is also predicted that a significant increase in foreign student enrolments from new sources of origin such as Turkey, Morocco and Iran will contribute to expand the international education market not only in terms of absolute numbers but also in terms of student diversity. In comparison, the demand from traditional countries like Europe and the USA is expected to slow down over the years (Bohm et al, 2002).

From a global perspective, Australia is a small player with around 9% share of the international student market where USA and UK dominate with nearly 80% market. However, the growth of the international education market for Australia has been significant since 1986, the year in which the Federal Government opened Australia's education system to full-fee paying overseas students. For example during 1998 and 1999, the overall growth was over 15% compared to 2% in USA, 2.6% in the UK, 8% in Canada and 8.2% in New Zealand (AEI, 2000).

Export of educational services, therefore, is not only a growing export industry for Australia but also a highly potential source of revenue for the country's economy. The latest estimate has valued the Australian education exports at $5.7 billion per annum representing an increase of approximately 18% over 2002 (Nelson, 2004). Studies have revealed that apart from the pecuniary benefits there are non pecuniary benefits flowing from the industry including economic and social impacts on the Australian economy (Arambewela and Zuhair, 2002, Dixon et al (1998), Peter, 1997, MacKay and Lewis (1995).

Another aspect of the market expansion is the significant growth in the post-graduate sector, though the undergraduate programs still dominate. Currently international postgraduate students account for 25% of all foreign students in higher education and the numbers are expected to grow significantly with the growth in demand in countries such as China and India (Bohm et al, 2002: AEI, 2000).

Driven by the attractiveness of the international education market in terms of pecuniary and non pecuniary benefits to the respective institutions and the country, higher educational institutions, like many other organisations are concerned with market share, productivity, return on investment and the quality of services offered to their customers (LeBlanc & Nha, 1997). …

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