Malaysian Management Review [pic] COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS OF STUDENTS’ SATISFACTION IN PUBLIC AND PRIVATE UNIVERSITIES IN MALAYSIA DR CHAVIDI NAGA SIVANAND – Faculty of Business and Law, Multimedia University, Melaka KUNARAJAH NAGALINGAM – Centre for Professional Education and Development, KDU College, PJ [pic] ABSTRACT Privatization has become a global phenomenon. It is essential to look into the quality of performance of the private sector, especially in fields like education. The current study is such an effort. It made use of the data from the students of two ublic and two private universities to compare the performance of the universities from the viewpoint of students’ satisfaction level. It is interesting to note that the private sector is giving tough competition and even sometimes outperforming the public sector. This could be encouraging information for the government bodies to go ahead with the liberalization process for more economic benefits. However, policy makers should be cautious in verifying the quality of performance by both public and private sectors by setting good standards. INTRODUCTION The economic growth and prosperity of any country depends on its resources.
Among all the resources, manpower has played a crucial and pivotal role in driving the economy. It is an undisputed fact that intelligentsia rules the world. This intelligentsia of the people in any country comes from proper education and development. The right education to the people of a nation is the responsibility of its government. This is no exception for Malaysia. The Malaysian government has always given priority to education. The growth, development and progress of a nation is dependent on national education attainments. The government has made a point to provide standard education for its citizens.
The access to education is a fundamental right for every Malaysian child of school-going age, which begins at six years old. The Malaysian Education Policy The Malaysian Education Policy is founded on the principles of the RUKUNEGARA. This philosophy embraces a holistic and integrated approach in imparting knowledge, skills, balanced development of the whole person, i. e. body (physical), soul (intellect and emotions), spirit, good virtues and positive attitudes, hinging on a strong belief and devotion to God. The Malaysian government has evolved from time to time, to increase the standard and quality of education.
This is to produce knowledgeable manpower, which is needed for today’s society. However, every one takes a risk in education. Places in the local government universities are limited and very competitive. The government faces the same problem every year, where there are too many applicants applying for the places in public universities but the government is unable to accommodate all of them due to limited resources in the local government universities. Thus, the growth of the private sector is encouraged. The Malaysian government has taken the step of tabling the Private Higher Education Bill in Parliament to enable the stablishment of foreign university branch campuses in Malaysia. It has become one of the fastest growing industries in Malaysia today. The government has taken responsibilities to invite premier universities with good financial background, infrastructure and expertise in Science and Technology to set up a base or a branch campus. This step will definitely provide more tertiary education opportunities for the Malaysian community and also create healthy competition among public universities. The Malaysian government has called on the private sector to play a bigger role in providing higher education.
Some of the local private corporations such as Tenaga Nasional Berhad, Petronas, Telekom Malaysia, Edaran Otomobil Nasional (EON), Permodalan Nasional (PNB) and Renong have announced plans to set up institutions of higher learning and universities. Some have already set up their own universities. A National Accreditation Board has been set up to ensure quality and control in private education. The Private Universities Act and review of immigration laws for student entry visas were the first steps taken by the government to achieve this vision. The Education Industry
As the education industry is recession proof, it is no wonder that it has become an attractive opportunity not only for local operators but also overseas universities that have increasingly become dependent on fulltime paying overseas students. The case for education is obvious and urgent in view of the development of the economy and Vision 2020. The ability and effectiveness of education, training and retraining to upgrade the education levels and skills of the workforce will have a profound effect on the Malaysian economy’s capacity to adjust and grow competitively in the years ahead. The continued eliance on the manufacturing sector and the service industry to achieve economic development, undoubtedly will lead to an increase in demand for education and training. However, it is appropriate to look into the quality of education delivered by these mixed organizations and to estimate the satisfaction levels of the student customers. This study is an effort to compare the public and private sector universities in satisfying the student customers in the Klang Valley, Malaysia. Problem Statement There are many higher educational institutions in Malaysia that cater for the education needs, demands and aspirations of the Malaysian community.
Private educators provide an important and often indispensable service and an alternative to public education. It is estimated that only about 30 per cent of post SPM students receive a chance to further their studies in the public institutions of higher learning whereas the remaining 70 per cent have to look for other alternatives by venturing into the private higher education institutions. These developments have encouraged the growth of private higher education institutions in the country. The main question is whether this growth in the number of private colleges and niversities has served to maintain the quality of education in the country or has adversely affected it. Research Objectives 1. To assess overall students’ satisfaction from the higher education institutions. 2. To investigate the differences in satisfaction levels of the students from public and private universities. 3. To suggest proper measures to fill gaps in serving students to their satisfaction level. LITERATURE REVIEW Education is one of the major service industries of the world. Services are the crucial force for today’s change towards a global economy (Fitzsimmons and Fitzsimmons, 1998).
These services have certain special characteristics posing problems in measuring service quality and customer satisfaction by the service organization. These unique characteristics differentiate services from physical goods: a. Intangibility: A service is a ‘deed, a performance, an effort”, unlike a physical good which is an “object, a device, a thing” (Berry, 1980) and hence, services cannot be seen, tasted, touched, heard or smelt before they are bought. The intangibility poses problems of storage, patent protection, communication, display and pricing. b.
Inseparability: Production and consumption of services usually take place simultaneously in the presence of the customer, which has implications for managing the queue or the waiting time. It also leads to greater customer interaction as well as customer interference in the service delivery process. c. Heterogeneity: It means that there is greater scope for variability in the performance of services which can vary from producer to producer, from customer to customer and from day to day. This makes it difficult for the management to provide a standardized high quality service. . Perishability: Unlike a physical product, a service cannot be stored or inventoried, which makes it difficult to have a centralized production for further distribution. It also creates the problem of synchronizing demand and supply. One of the major problems faced by the service provider is its subjectivity. The subjectivity makes it imperative for the organization to take into cognizance the customer perceptions of service quality so that the service package defined and planned by the organization is close to one that is expected by the customer (Collier, 1987).
The other important issue of concern for the service provider is to understand the process of customer assessment of service through perceived service quality and satisfaction and its linkages to behavioural outcomes like loyalty and positive word of mouth. This is important, as studies have consistently shown the positive impact of customer satisfaction and perceived quality on profits and market shares (Bolton and Drew, 1994). Service quality and satisfaction are considered to be the determinants of purchase intentions (Parasuraman, Zeithaml and Berry, 1988). Definitions
Service Quality Different authors have given different definitions of service quality: 1. Gronroos (1983) distinguishes between “technical quality” (what is delivered) and “functional quality” (how it is delivered). He believes the latter is critical to perceptions of service quality. 2. Lehtinen (1983) views service quality in terms of “process quality” and “output quality”. Process quality is judged by the customer during service. Output quality is judged by the customer after the service is performed. 3. Zeithamal, Parasuraman and Berry (1990) define service uality as the extent of discrepancy between customers’ expectations or desires and their perceptions. Consumer Satisfaction Satisfaction refers to the buyer’s state of being adequately rewarded in a buying situation for the sacrifice he has made. Adequacy of satisfaction is a result of matching actual past purchase and consumption experience with the expected reward from the brand in terms of its anticipated potential to satisfy the consumer’s motives (Loudon and Bitta, 1993). Zeithaml (1981) made an effort to find out the consumer evaluation process of goods and services.
She concluded that the service’s unique characteristics of intangibility, non-standardization and inseparability lead them to possess high levels of experience and credence properties, which in turn, make them more difficult to evaluate than tangible goods. The evaluation of services by consumers in terms of service attributes that should have an impact on judgments as well as the nature of the judgments themselves was investigated by Ostrom and Lacobucci (1995). The authors made a study on MBA students in the USA. A conjoint analysis was used to examine the subjects’ utilities for service alternatives that differ in erms of price, level of quality, friendliness of the service personnel and the degree of customization of the service. The results indicated that all service attributes were important to consumers and that their importance varies with mediating factors. Padmanaba Sivakumar and Srinivasan’s (2003) study made use of the SERVQUAL model approach for training hotel staff to deliver service quality in Chennai city of India. They identified service quality as linchpin for any organization’s survival. Parasuraman et al. (1988) made elaborate efforts to measure consumer perceptions of service quality.
The aim of the research was twofold: to describe the development of a multiple-item scale for measuring service quality (called SERVQUAL), and to discuss the scale’s properties and potential applications. After conducting research on four diversified service organizations, such as bank, credit card company, repair and maintenance company and long-distance telephone company across the USA, SERVQUAL was developed with 22 items measuring expectations and perceptions of the consumers separately, which were found to be useful in measuring customer satisfaction.
SERVQUAL was made up of the following five dimensions: 1) Reliability, 2) Assurance, 3) Tangibles, 4) Empathy, and 5) Responsiveness. Haywood-Farmer (1988) worked on developing a conceptual model for service quality after studying a diversified number of organizations, such as utilities, transport, teaching, stock broking, repair services wholesaling, retailing, fast foods, and hospitals in Canada. The discussion pointed out that organizations in the service sector are highly diverse and that there are at least three important dimensions which can be segregated for better management of quality.
The paper proposed a new three-dimensional classification scheme based on this idea. Service quality was described as comprising three elements: physical facilities, process and procedures; personal behaviour on the part of serving staff; and professional judgment on the part of serving staff. In an earlier multiphase study of service quality, Zeithaml et al. (1990) had developed a conceptual model of service quality and a methodology for measuring customer perceptions of service quality. The model was referred to as the “gaps model” because it features discrepancies or gaps that need to be closed to ffer excellent service. To the business world, they suggested how to get started in a service-improvement effort. Finally, they presented emerging service quality issues and challenges for the future. Srinivas, Lysonski and Mehta (1999), based on a sample of shipping managers of ocean freight shipping lines of Singapore, developed a decision tree calculus which identified the hierarchy of determinants that maximize service satisfaction. The approach offered guidance to practising managers in selecting criteria that can optimize customer satisfaction levels. In a paper by Hundekar and Shollapur (1999), they tressed the importance of importing quality management education for the 21st century. Banwet and Datta (2000) investigated the quality of services offered to students in an institutional computer centre in New Delhi, India and measured tangible and intangible aspects of service quality, consumer satisfaction and post-visit intentions. The study indicated that service performance generally lags behind user’s expectations. Improvement in the quality of services increased the level of satisfaction of the user. Satisfied users intended to revisit the computer centre and advised others to visit it.
Aravindan and Punniyamoorthy (1999) made an attempt to develop and measure customer satisfaction and service quality in the banking sector. The developed model extended from the Brown-Gibson Model used for locational measures, was tested on the banking service. The State Bank of India and Indian Bank were selected to measure which of the two provided greater customer satisfaction. The above brief review of literature is to help in understanding the difficulty in measuring the service quality and to arrive at customer satisfaction in service industries.
The outcomes are found to be divergent based on different contexts. It can also be understood that there seems to be no clear-cut consensus among the authors in measuring service quality and customer satisfaction the service industries. The current study is an effort to understand the service quality and student-customer satisfaction of the services offered by public and private universities. RESEARCH METHODOLOGY This study is a descriptive research designed to collect data and to do further analysis. The data were collected from two public universities and two private managed universities.
For the sake of confidentiality, the names of these universities are not revealed here. Public or government funded universities are identified as GFU-1 and GFU-2, and private universities as PU-1 and PU-2. The objectives of the study are mentioned earlier in this paper. The study made use of primary and secondary data. The secondary data were collected through resources such as journals, magazines, textbooks and other periodicals and presented as literature review in this article. The primary data were collected through survey. The survey instrument is a questionnaire.
The questionnaire is developed through literature review, focus group studies and pilot studies (the questionnaire is appended in the Appendix section). The questionnaire was targeted at students of higher learning from the said universities. The study was intended to collect data from at least 75 respondents from each organization. However, after thorough editing of unusable questionnaires, the useful sample number from each organization came out as follows: GFU-1: 47, GFU-2: 50, PU-1:44 and PU-2: 51. The sampling method adopted was non-probability judgmental sampling method.
The collected data were analyzed by using the SPSS package. The analysis includes descriptive and inferential statistical analysis. Overall, statistical methods such as factor analysis, reliability analysis and chi-square analysis were conducted on the data to draw conclusions. The findings of the analysis are presented and discussed. LIMITATIONS OF THE RESEARCH 1. The findings are targeted at the respondents in the Klang Valley only; so it may not be representative of the whole country. 2. For this study, the questionnaire was used to collect primary data.
This method is time consuming and not expensive. 3. Difficulties obtaining data from the Private Education Department (Ministry of Education). The officers were busy or not available for interview; so the researchers were left with no other choice but to settle for secondary data. 4. The participating universities, when approached for permission to conduct such a research, were not keen in taking part. RESULTS AND DISCUSSION Sample Profile It can be observed from Table 1 that two-thirds of the respondents are female students. Nearly 85 per cent of the students are between 18 and 23 years old.
From the four participating universities, there is almost an equal number of student customers that were considered in this research. However, the study is biased towards Malaysian students only. It is evident that out of the total of 192 students, only eight students (4. 2%) are foreign students. (See Table 1. ) Sample Educational information It is interesting to note that 96 percent of the students are undergraduates and graduates. Only a small (4) percentage of the students are at the post-graduate level. The study has collected data from the business management students.
Sixty-four per cent are business students followed by others (43%) who are doing courses such as engineering, information technology, etc. The majority (96%) of the respondents have been with their respective universities for more than a year. This fact renders the information realistic. [pic] Comparative Analysis of Students’ Satisfaction between Public Universities and Private Universities This aspect has been studied under four broad areas for each of the participating universities. These areas are: 1) Service Product, 2) Administration of the university, 3) Lecturers of the organization, and 4) Facilities.
Under each broad area, there are certain questions, which are answered by the respondent. All the questions under each category are summed up and averages are taken to interpret the information for a particular area. This was practised and recommended by many researchers of the services industry (Taylor, 1992 and Shainesh, 1996). However, before arriving at the summed averages, the reliability and validity tests were conducted on the data. The results are presented in Appendix I and Appendix II. Cronbach’s coefficient alpha value was found to be more than the cut-off value of 0. 6.
Factor loadings are also encouraging for further analysis. Two types of statistical analysis have been made in the above-mentioned four broad areas to understand students’ satisfaction. The first statistical test is mean values. Mean values are arrived at by adding up the responses of sub-questions in each broad category. The second test is the inferential statistical test, chi-square test, which is suitable for drawing conclusions. 1. Mean value analysis Service Product The majority of the respondents agree that the quality of course content or syllabus is important, with a mean of 5. 38 (see Table 3).
Friendly service is another criterion, with a mean of 4. 99, followed by politeness (4. 88), pace of service (4. 56) and pace of providing feedback (4. 49). PU-1 respondents rated services offered to them as good, with the highest mean of 5. 5. It is interesting to note that the respondents in private universities are more satisfied with the service offered compared to government universities, as evident from the mean values presented in Table 3. [pic] [pic] Administration It can be observed from Table 4 that PU-1 respondents agree that the administration of the university is good with a mean of . 03, whereas GFU-2 respondents feel that their administration should be improved – it has the lowest mean of 3. 39. Overall, the majority of the respondents feel that administration should be improved in their respective universities. The data reveal that private university students are happy with their universities’ administration when compared to government universities. [pic] Lecturers The majority of the respondents agree that their lecturers have the knowledge to answer questions, with the highest mean of 5. 43 (see Table 5). Private universities have the upper edge egarding lecturers in this aspect compared to government universities. This can be related to the ratio of lecturer to students where public universities have a very high ratio compared to private universities. Therefore, private university teachings are more personalized. Hence, a higher satisfaction level is registered by the students of private universities. Facilities Table 6 shows that the respondents with the mean of 5. 82 rate their universities as providers of loans and scholarships, whereas availability of books in the library received the lowest score of 4. 86.
Generally, all the respondents rated above average the facilities provided by their universities. But GFU-2 students are slightly more dissatisfied compared to the others. Here, the highly populated nature of public universities brings about a high ratio of students per facility. [pic] [pic] 2. Chi-Square Analysis The chi-square statistics (x2) is used to test the statistical significance of the observed association in a cross tabulation. Here, the test is conducted based on 4 (satisfied) from the participating universities. The questions set with mean value of 4 are not considered for the test, ecause respondents are neutral in their opinion. They are neither satisfied nor dissatisfied. Service Product Ho: There is no difference in the satisfaction level of the students with respect to service products of private and government universities. H1: There is difference in the satisfaction levels of the students with respect to service products of private and government universities. [pic] Inference: Calculated value is 15. 058 which is greater than table value of 3. 841 at one degree of freedom and 5 per cent significance level. Hence, Ho is rejected. And the alternative hypothesis (H1) is accepted.
It can be inferred that there is difference in the satisfaction levels of the students with respect to service product of private and government universities. Similar results came from the mean values as private universities have a mean of 5. 25 compared to 4. 47 by the government universities (see Table 3) with respect to the satisfaction from service product. Administration Ho: There is no difference in the satisfaction levels of the students with respect to administration of private and government universities. H1: There is difference in the satisfaction levels of the tudents with respect to administration of private and government universities. [pic] Inference: Calculated value is 14. 25 which is greater than table value of 3. 841 at one degree of freedom and 5 per cent significant level. Hence, Ho is rejected and the alternative hypothesis is accepted. It can be inferred that there is difference in the satisfaction levels of the students with respect to administration of private and government universities. Table 4 indicates that private universities have the mean satisfaction value of 4. 79 compared to 3. 85 by the government universities.
This result supports the chi-square test where there is difference in the satisfaction level of the students with respect to administration. It can be summarized that private university students are more satisfied compared to the government counterpart. Lecturers Ho: There is no difference in the satisfaction levels of the students with respect to lecturers of private and government universities. H1: There is difference in the satisfaction levels of the students with respect to lecturers of private and government universities. [pic] Inference: Calculated value is 3. 515 which is lesser than table value of 3. 41 at one degree of freedom and 5 per cent significant level. Hence, Ho is accepted and the alternative hypothesis (H1) is rejected. And it can be inferred that there is no difference in the satisfaction levels of the students with respect to lecturers of private and government universities. However, the chi-square test results are contradicting the mean value results. Mean values show that private university students are more satisfied than government university students (see Table 5). Facilities Ho: There is no difference in the satisfaction level of the students with respect to facilities of private and government universities.
H1: There is difference in the satisfaction level of the students with respect to facilities of private and government universities. [pic] Inference: Calculated value is 0. 843, which is less than table value of 3. 841 at one degree of freedom and 5 per cent significant level. Hence, Ho is accepted and the alternative hypothesis is rejected. And it can be inferred that there is no difference in the satisfaction level of the students with respect to facilities of private and government universities. However, Table 6 indicates that private universities have a mean of 5. 62 compared to 5. 8 by the government universities, which shows that private universities are better. The chi-square values contradict this result. CONCLUSION It is a welcoming outcome that the private organizations are really competing well with and even well ahead of government organizations in delivering services and other related outputs. Privatization can be considered to be the right move globally and particularly in Malaysia. However, the government should be cautious and should have an appropriate quality control mechanism to keep standards up for both government and public organizations.
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