Postgraduate International Students from Asia: Factors Influencing Satisfaction

Rodney Arambewela John Hall Segu Zuhair

ABSTRACT. The growth in the international education market within the next two decades will be dominated by Asia, accounting for almost 70% of the global demand for international higher education (Bohm et al., 2002). The market attractiveness with significant pecuniary and non-pecuniary gains from full-fee paying students will result in a more competitive environment for higher educational institutions around the world seeking to improve their market position. Student satisfaction is a key strategic variable in maintaining such a competitive position with long-term benefits arising from student loyalty, positive word of mouth (WOM) communication and image of the higher educational institutions to meet the challenges of increasing global competition, rising student expectations of quality, service, and value for money. This process reRodney Arambewela, PhD, is a Lecturer in Marketing and Unit Chair in Marketing Research at Deakin University, Bowater School of Management and Marketing, Faculty of Business and Law, Geelong Victoria, 3217, Australia (E-mail: rodneya@ John Hall, PhD, is Associate Professor of Marketing at Deakin University, Deakin Business School, Deakin University, Toorak Campus, 336 Glenferrie Road, Malvern, Victoria, 3144 (E-mail: Segu Zuhair, PhD, is Senior Lecturer in the School of Applied Economics and Coordinator of Postgraduate Research Programs at Victoria University, School of Applied Economics, Victoria University, P.O. Box 14428, Melbourne VIC 8001, Australia (E-mail: segu.zuhair@vu. Journal of Marketing for Higher Education, Vol. 15(2) 2005 Available online at © 2005 by The Haworth Press, Inc. All rights reserved. doi:10.1300/J050v15n02_05




quires educational institutions to carefully analyse these key factors contributing to student satisfaction and therefore develop strategies accordingly. Using logistic regression analysis with factor scores and aggregated satisfaction scores, this study examines the relative importance of factors and their impact on the satisfaction levels of international postgraduate students from four Asian countries studying in Australian universities. The study concludes that the dominant factors that impact on student satisfaction are quality of education, student facilities, reputation of the institutions, the marketability of their degrees for better career prospects, and the overall customer value provided by the universities. [Article copies available for a fee from The Haworth Document Delivery Service: 1-800HAWORTH. E-mail address: <> Website: <http://> © 2005 by The Haworth Press, Inc. All rights reserved.]

KEYWORDS. International education, customer satisfaction, service quality, customer value

INTRODUCTION A recent forecast by International Development Programs (IDP) in Australia estimates a fourfold increase in the global demand for international education with approximately 7.2 million students by 2025, representing a 5.8% compound growth rate during this period. According to this study, Asia will remain the major growth region contributing over 70% of this demand with China and India emerging as two major sources of international students, while non-Asian countries such as Turkey, Morocco and Iran will become new sources of international students in the near future in view of the increasing demand for overseas education in these countries. In comparison, the study estimates that the demand from traditional countries like Europe and the USA would decline over the years (Bohm et al., 2002). USA, UK, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand are currently the major study destinations of international students with USA and the UK attracting nearly 80% of the international student population. USA is by far the leading provider of educational services to international students who accounted for over 586,000 during 2002/2003 (IIE, 2003). Though a relatively small player with around 9% of the international student market, Australia has shown a significant growth in student enrollments

Indonesia. In these circumstances. 2000) (see Table 1). the overall growth was over 15% compared to 2% in USA.. India. The Australian government has been very responsive to this challenge by committing $113 million in its May 2003 budget to support several initiatives to promote and expand the country’s vital international education industry (DEST. 2. A part of this campaign is to ensure that Australian universities remain competitive as attractive study destinations for international students. a significant growth in the postgraduate sector has been evident. Between 1998 and 1999. 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.834 international students were enrolled in Australian educational institutions. 8% in Canada and 8. 7. UK.Arambewela. Indonesia. and Thailand studying in Australian universities. economic. and Canada.6% in the UK. 157. 2000). the Australian international education industry is not without challenges. While undergraduate programs dominate in the delivery of Australian international educational services. and social impact on the mobility of international students in the short to medium term. UK.3% higher than 1998 (AEI. and during 1999. After a relatively slow pace of growth.000 or 79% between the years 1993 and 1997. The aftermath of September 11th and the war in Iraq would also have significant political. and Zuhair 107 since the early 1990s. 2002. and indirect competition from source countries due to the shifts in “push” factors. the foreign student enrollments in Australia rose by 67. 2000). Australia continues to face direct competition from the traditional study destinations such as USA. The increasing domestic and international competition from other higher education provider countries such as USA. increasing student satisfaction is a critical success factor for market competitiveness of the universities.000 international students studying in Australia. The aim of this paper is to determine the key factors influencing post.2% in New Zealand (AEI. and the impact of other global environmental issues have led to market fragmentation and shifts in international student mobility worldwide. By 1997. and Thailand selected for this study are from countries that represent 61% of all Asian postgraduate students studying in Australia and have shown a potential for further growth (AEI. 2003). Drawing on the expectations/perceptions para- . AEI. India. there were over 151. Despite these positive trends. 2000). which were responsible for students seeking education overseas. Hall. The student groups from China.choice satisfaction of full fee paying Asian postgraduate international students from China.

176 26.0 11.088 16.1 10.3 16.517 4.818 37.6 2.8 9.2 2.25% 72.489 –17.282 12.817 % change 98/99 –24.2 –18.637 13.5 27.2 37.3 4.996 7.5 8.043 0.176 15.858 3.557 –20.810 45.085 986 –9.326 5.229 6.586 1.2 3.8 30.617 –5.030 4.627 2.4 5.220 2.069 –9.291 33.269 11.63 14.3 4.083 97.364 –10.931 2.718 14.399 191.9 47.699 2.06% 14.7 21.142 –8.3 8.8 9.890 39.934 3.8 16.791 12.7 13.510 4.1 15.481 10.119 Malaysia Singapore Hong Kong Indonesia India Thailand China Taiwan Korea (South) Japan European Union Other Markets 11.9 389 361 –7.958 51.2 64.850 34.2 18.1 2.2 2.311 69.3 1999 97/98 98/99 97/98 98/99 1998 1999 96/97 2.308 6. International Comparison of Student Enrolments Australia Source Country 1998 13.060 4.843 4.8 7.814 15.279 13.221 98/99 1.5 33.356 18.575 215 397 397 74 390 467 376 362 760 484 2.1 720 8.556 12.3 362.6 33.035 4.199 –8.748 16.269 4.148 3.9 42.280 490.0 6.546 17.781 13.731 647 745 1.073 46.090 12.8 2.727 8.665 8.406 –1.9 5.597 11.715 32.947 7.208 7.589 1.108 TABLE 1.1% 2% 481.417 3.032 –28.476 197 339 353 46 410 87 323 396 663 350 1.482 10.024 1.8 5.439 2.2 8.6 3.6 7.6 3.855 31.750 26.933 183.414 7.111 15.60% 2.183 207.771 213.558 1.971 5.6 3.3 46.312 733 775 1.6 13.320 7.6 2.645 35.019 852 –16.647 2.3 21.001 8.6 1.905 2.735 –9.587 % change 98-99 % change 98/99 % change 98/99 % change 98/99 United States United Kingdom Canada New Zealand 97/98 2.5 7.927 2.5 83.1 383 397 745 198 2.6 4.281 2.317 13.6 39.7 184 3.003 1.4 5.3 1.1 93.657 TOTAL .078 182 359 312 54 367 101 357 297 719 399 1.7 1.4 4.

customers rely heavily on psychological inputs such as expectations.Arambewela. 1998). and brand loyalty (Churchill and Suprenant. and Zuhair 109 digm based on the SERVQUAL instrument (Parasuraman et al. 1994). In relation to the theory of customer satisfaction. The evaluation of the quality and performance of a service such as university education. The present paper uses an adaptation of a model used to study services with students as the recipients or customers of the service who would expect educational institutions to satisfy their needs following the service-recipient paradigm (Havarnek and Brodwin. this paper analyses the relative satisfaction among different student groups. repeat purchase. The analysis examines the relationship between three satisfaction scores (calculated from questionnaire feedback).. Hall. which play an important role in framing satisfaction evaluations (Oliver. and the factor scores (generated from the factor analysis of student satisfaction ratings). It is a major outcome of marketing activity and serves to link processes. the terms pre-choice expectations and post-choice perceptions are operationalised in order to investigate student satisfaction. The perceptions formed during this evaluative process are key indicators of customer satisfaction or dissatisfaction (Halstead et al. 1996).. universities need to be highly student-focused in their service delivery. 1982). According to the paradigm of service-recipient which considers students as customers (Havarnek and Brodwin. culminating in purchase and consumption with post-purchase phenomena such as attitude change. A satisfied customer is viewed as an indispensable means of creating sustainable advantage for the organization in the current competitive environment (Patterson. can take place only after experiencing or consuming because customers have limited tangible pre-choice cues. and Spreng. 1997). 1988 and 1985). 1998). which are basic properties of a service. LITERATURE REVIEW Customer satisfaction is the cornerstone of the marketing concept and one of the most widely studied and embraced constructs in marketing. Education is a service that is experienced by students and other stakeholders of educational institutions who form judgments about service delivery performance in terms of its quality and consistency. In the present paper. to establish the importance of these factors in explaining students’ satisfaction. . Johnson.

While early research considered the satisfaction construct as a form of attitude. Dissatisfied customers would engage in negative WOM. When a customer is satisfied with a service encounter. It is therefore imperative for universities to improve satisfaction levels of students ensuring positive WOM among students in order to enhance their attractiveness to current and potential students and to maintain a competitive edge in the international market place (Harvis et al. 1994. the tendency is to form a positive attitude towards the service and similarly if a customer is dissatisfied.. recruiting prospective students or becoming a proactive alumni (Guolla. dissatisfaction could lead students of a university to engage in negative WOM. which will have harmful effects on the reputation of the organization and its products. 1999). would continue to be patrons of the university by returning for further studies. a negative response is expected. Halstead et al.. Similarly. 1994). it is expected that the highly satisfied students would engage in positive word of mouth (WOM) communication such as recommending the university or course to a friend or relative or. 2000. confirmed the strong relationship that exists between student satisfaction and WOM and its impact on students’ choice process and the significant link that exists between WOM and customer retention. Given the mobility and choices available to the retention of current students could be a challenge to universities.110 JOURNAL OF MARKETING FOR HIGHER EDUCATION In the current context of services marketing such as education. 2000). One of the widely discussed and tested approaches in measuring customer satisfaction is Oliver’s (1980) expectancy-disconfirmation model or one of its variants. Some researchers lamented that most of the Customer Satisfaction and Dissatisfaction (CS/D) research is focused on conceptual issues and underlying processes giving little attention to the pragmatic task of measurement (Yuksel and Rimmington. The par- . As an outcome of the post-consumption process in an educational environment. A study of an Australian university by Athiyaman (2000). 1998). Guolla (1999) indicates that the degree of satisfaction determines the nature and the effects of WOM whether it is positive or negative. satisfaction becomes a key to customer retention and positive Word of Mouth (WOM) Communication (Harvis et al. from a broader perspective. which would have major implications on the reputation of the university and its enrolments. research in the 1980s revealed that satisfaction is more complex involving numerous measurement issues. Yau.. Expectancy-disconfirmation is a derivative of adaptation-level theory and suggests that customers compare the actual product and service performance with their prior expectations. resulting in loss of custom.

which is being practiced by a number of universities in the world. the customer is dissatisfied. Despite the limitations in the approach of using difference or gap scores.Arambewela. 1990). Fornell.. Such comparisons are undertaken in the consumer’s mind to establish a “calculated disconfirmation” which influences “subjective disconfirmation” (Ueltschy and Krampf. 1994 and 1985). the expectancy-disconfirmation paradigm has gained increasing acceptability as a basis for assessing postpurchase evaluations and has secured the endorsement of a number of researchers since it was first introduced (Bolton et al. and Zuhair 111 adigm postulates that customer satisfaction is related to the size and direction of disconfirmation. Oliver. The application of CS/D has received wide recognition in the educational services industry. and is based on the matching of service outcomes with previous experiences. The “Student Satisfaction Approach” developed by the Centre for Research into Quality at the University of Central England (UCE) to evaluate student feedback for quality improvement. When expectations are met or exceeded. 2000). Anderson. Parasuraman et al. Spreng et al. which is defined as the difference between an individual’s prepurchase (prechoice) expectations (or some other comparison standard) and postpurchase (postchoice) performance of the product as perceived by the customer (Test et al. is a case in point.. The main rationale behind the model is that it provides a comparison standard to facilitate confirmation or disconfirmation (Yi. 1999. This approach is relevant to education as students are customers of an educational service and have prior expectations of the level of service they would ideally like to receive from an educational institution. and Lehmann (1994) acknowledge this perspective in several ways by claiming that satisfaction should be viewed as a judgment based on cumulative experience rather than transaction-specific exposure. the model has had strong support across a wide variety of products and services (Tse et al. The development of several variants of the model using the paradigm or the use of some form of the standard performance disconfirmation paradigm in which actual choice is compared to an internal standard during satisfaction formation is a further indication of its popularity as a measurement approach (Park and Choi. the customer is satisfied. 1990). 1990). It deals with the key . The increasing interest of higher educational institutions in student satisfaction research has contributed positively to satisfaction research on services in general (Gael. If the performance falls short of the expectations. 2001).. 1996. 1996. Moreover. Its relevance to education is clear in that student satisfaction is linked to student expectations and cumulative experience of service received by students.. Hall.. 1998).

These included issues related to administration. or vice versa . benefits of university education. 1995). and supervision. and their relevance to measure postchoice satisfaction and dissatisfaction. teaching staff.112 JOURNAL OF MARKETING FOR HIGHER EDUCATION variables to be tested and the mechanism involved in the implementation.” The research on post-choice satisfaction in international education. Focus group discussions were used to verify and refine variables identified by past research in terms of exploring the relationships among variables influencing the pre. 11) point out.and postchoice behaviour of international postgraduate students studying in Australia. (1994). . Haussler et al. “students as participants in a process of education consider that the student satisfaction approach should assess what is important to students. (1995). rather than those aspects that the producers think are of concern. 2000). Tomovick et al. METHODOLOGY Both qualitative and quantitative methods were used in what Tashakkori and Teddlie (1989) refer to as a “sequential mixed method design” where “. As Harvey et al. . research environment. . (1996). Kwan (1999). The available research on postgraduate students was also confined to specific issues such as quality of programs. the researcher conducts a qualitative phase of a study and then a separate quantitative phase. . This approach was deemed suitable because of the partly exploratory nature of the study (Tashakkori and Teddlie. p. 1989) and its advantages over single method approaches (Marshall and Rossman. however. according to Townley (2001). is still very limited and studies focusing on international postgraduate students are rare. were largely focused on perceptions of undergraduate students on university life and facilities or their experience on individual study programs. the recognition of the “total student experience” is apparent in much of the literature relating to student feedback (Gael. and Burke (1986). For example. 46). The studies by DETYA (2000 and 1999). is spurred by the need to maintain a competitive advantage and build a market share in order to secure government funding based on the concept of full-time equivalent students. and no attempt had been made on a comparative analysis of the postchoice decision-making behaviour of students from different countries of origin. The use of focus group discussions assisted in identifying those issues that were relevant and have a direct bearing on their satisfaction levels.” (p. This trend. The first phase of the study involved focus groups. . Halstead et al. (1997.

and other information regarding the status of the students. The quantitative data used in this study was derived from a mail survey conducted among international postgraduate students from China. The main quantitative method used by the study is factor analysis employed to group the significant variables affecting student satisfaction. and Zuhair 113 teaching methods. The final part was used to gather demographic. Indonesia. The study. Hall. The survey instrument was comprised of three parts. has included in its analysis some issues of concern to students identified in the qualitative phase in addition to those already identified by earlier researchers. quality. university facilities. the second part was aimed at eliciting the overall impressions of students in the form of their “most satisfactory” and “most unsatisfactory” experience at the university. cost factors. and Thailand studying in five universities in the state of Victoria.Arambewela. Focus Group Representation Nationality China India Indonesia Thailand Others Male 3 4 3 3 4 Female 2 3 2 4 3 . Three focus group interviews were conducted with the participation of 31 postgraduate international students from three different Australian universities in the state of Victoria (see Table 2). Australia. The focus groups were also aimed at identifying additional factors with regard to student expectations of studying overseas. therefore. and services. India. examining the importance of factors influencing choice of destination and the differences in the ranking of these factors by the target students. Much of the earlier research focused on the choice of study destinations. The opportunity was also used to develop hypothesis to address the research objectives. which are then used in a logistic model to predict satisfaction based on personal traits. and it was necessary to ascertain whether these choice variables could be justified as input variables in modelling postchoice satisfaction and dissatisfaction. the first part of the questionnaire was aimed at obtaining student responses with regard to the expectations and perceptions of the university as a study destination. classificatory. The number and the size of each focus group are given below. TABLE 2.

Grewal. 1981. Hampton. The statements covered a wide range of issues related to student satisfaction and reflected a “total student experience” of their postgraduate studies. Given the strong arguments for the validity of the scale. The questions in the second part were open-ended and the objective of this part of the questionnaire was to provide an opportunity for respondents to comment on any issue that was of concern to them. 1989). Brown and Swartz. 1980. similar to SERVQUAL. with the introductory phrase reading. .” The respondents were expected to indicate their choice by circling a number along this scale. The desired expectations are considered to have a better explanatory power than the predictive expectations used by many researchers (Spreng et al. .” followed by the list of 36 statements. The scale has been adapted to a number of service industries. .. Westbrook. To overcome any language difficulties that overseas students might experience. “The university of my choice would have . 1990. The variables associated with these statements were constructed with input from previous studies and focus group interviews. Oliver.” followed by the same list of 36 statements. Oliver. 1999.. 1993. Finn and Lam. Tomovick et al. 1993. . 1996). . and higher education (Davis and Allen. Jones. along with the scale’s acceptance and use by many researchers. Both sets of items were operationalised using 7 point bipolar scales labelled “1 = strongly disagree to 7 = strongly agree. Parasuraman. 1994. 1991. The questions were direct and responses were obtained on a multi-measure bipolar (continuous) scale. and Berry (1994. 1989). 1996). 1996). 1986. Zeithaml. each describing expectations and perceptions of the services provided by the university as a study destination.114 JOURNAL OF MARKETING FOR HIGHER EDUCATION The questionnaire was an adaptation of the SERVQUAL instrument developed by Parasuraman. The responses were sought on 36 statements representing aspects of the operations and services of the university under desired (ideal) expectations of choice and postchoice perceptions. . very simple language was used in phrasing these questions (Jones. which has been well validated (Bearden and Netemeyer. If the respondents consider that the item was not relevant. they were requested to circle the number 9 (not applicable). The scale comprised of two matched sets of 36 items. including retailing (Baker. and 1988) and was designed to measure the gap between student responses on expectations and perceptions of the university as a study destination on a seven point bipolar scale. The same statements were repeated with the postchoice perceptions of performance with the introductory phrase. an adaptation of the refined SERVQUAL scale was considered appropriate for this study. “The university of my choice has .

. employing a systematic random sampling approach.. . 2002). Churchill and Iacobucci. Ratio scores: The second approach was used to calculate satisfaction scores as a ratio of P to E. To this end. and Zuhair 115 These comments were considered as additional confirmation of the responses and provide additional input that would be useful in the analysis of the satisfaction levels of students. 2002. which produced 371 respondents. 1991 and 1985). SATISFACTION SCORES As indicated earlier. This was to ensure equality of variance across the student groups for the same variables (Hair et al. The hypothesis here is that the ratio better encapsulates the relative nature of the satisfaction than that is provided by the differences. A ratio value of 1 was taken as the minimum level of satisfaction. Hall.. and of the difference (gap) scores to measure CS/D (Parasuraman et al. Each score is described below: Gap scores: The first approach was to calculate the difference (gap) between perceptions (P) and expectations (E) as an aggregated score. The measurement criteria in this study is therefore based on three different satisfaction scores namely. this study supplements the gap scores with satisfaction scores derived from using a ratio method of calculation. 1995). following the weighted average concept of SERVQUAL measurement approach (Parasuraman et al. the sample for this study was reduced to approximately uniform sample size from each country and each university. 1996).. 1991 and 1985). and (c) the geometric average of the ratio score. The questionnaire was pretested on 12 international postgraduate students representing all of the countries under investigation in this study to identify any flaws in the design and correct them prior to its administration (Malhotra et al. (a) the raw difference (gap) score (b) the arithmetic average of the ratio score. Of the 573 useable responses received. the measurement approach followed in this study is an adaptation of the seminal expectancy disconfirmation paradigm (Oliver. The analysis then included an arithmetic average and geometric average of the ratios in order to compute the aggregate satisfaction level. The key requirement is to ensure that the measurement should be able to encapsulate the relativity of the information presented in the data on a comparative basis.Arambewela.

87. which comprised of seven variables were related to the exchange of information and guidance provided by the universities or its agents/representatives to ensure a successful educational outcome for students. In order to assess the usefulness of the factor scores in predicting student satisfaction. the factor scores were employed in a logistic regression with a dichotomous qualitative variable representing student satisfaction.. DATA ANALYSIS Factor analysis was performed using Principal Components and Orthogonal (VARIMAX) method to identify the communalities of the variables and these resulted in four factors–Education standards and facilities (UNISAT1). Factor scores are composite measure for each factor representing the characteristics of each subject. 5 and 6 list factor variables and their respective loadings.2. The loadings on each dimension were significant ranging between 0.531 and 0. and have the advantage of representing a composite of all variables loading on the factor (Hair et al. These ranged from cost effectiveness (value for money). which indicated that the data matrix had suf- . and dealt with additional value provided by universities in relation to students’ educational study experience. Tables 3. Customer value and study outcomes (UNISAT3) and Image.116 JOURNAL OF MARKETING FOR HIGHER EDUCATION MEASUREMENT OF SATISFACTION The factor scores generated from factor analysis were used to measure satisfaction of students.01. prestige and recognition (UNISAT4). Communication and Guidance (UNISAT2).803. 4. There were nine variables associated with the first factor UNISAT1 and these were directly associated with academic pursuits of students while the variables in the second factor UNISAT2. 1995). All variables were tested for inter-item reliability and consistency of the questionnaire using Cronbach’s alpha. relevance of courses for career prospects to image and recognition of universities and its study programs. and all factors had an acceptable alpha greater than 0. These dichotomous variables were derived from the original satisfaction scores that were measured as described earlier. The overall significance of the correlation matrix was significant with a p-value of < 0. This suggested a strong correlation between the variables in each of the factors. and a Bartlett Test of Sphericity value of 7632. The third and the fourth factors UNISAT3 and UNISAT4 comprised six and five variables respectively.

Loadings 0. Based on these results.578 0. Further examination of the initial statistics reveals that the first factor.258 to 13. Good access to lecturers.8 to 1.Arambewela.540 ficient correlation to conduct factor analysis. the overall KaiserMeyer-Olkin (KMO) measure of sample adequacy had highly acceptable value of 0.9. This factor accounted . Modern computer facilities. Moreover. Provides valuable feedback from lecturers. Communication and Guidance (UNISAT2) Variables International orientation programs.791 0. High standard of lecture material.775 0. ranged from 1. Factor 1–Variables and Loadings.891 accounting for 66. The selection of factors was based on eigenvalues above 1. UNISAT1 is predominant with an eigenvalue of 13.591 0.5% of the total variance explained as shown in Table 7.622 0. High standard of teaching with quality lecturers.2. Indonesia. All four factors identified had a minimum eigenvalue of 1. Information available compared to other universities. Hall. Good operating hours of library access. Loadings 0.634 0. Counselling services. Complaints process for services and facilities.632 0. and the values of the selected factors. Good access to computer labs.600 0. India. and Thailand.802 0. Factor 2–Variables and Loadings.531 TABLE 4.653 0..751 0. followed by the other factors with eigenvalues ranging from 1. Manageable class sizes. it can be surmised that the factor UNISAT 1: “education standards and facilities” is the most significant component influencing CS/D of international postgraduate students from China. 1995).793 0.769 0. Overseas consultants for information and guidance.948 (Hair et al. and the total variance explained by these values. Information available through the Internet. and Zuhair 117 TABLE 3. Social activities.803 0. Education Standards and Facilities (UNISAT1) Variables Modern library facilities.

Loadings 0.492 Cumulative % 49. and Reliability Alpha % of Variance Factors Eigenvalues Individual % 49.90 0.833 0. . Image/Prestige. Loadings 0. High image and prestige within own country.90 Extraction Method: Principal Component Analysis.258 0.891 1.118 JOURNAL OF MARKETING FOR HIGHER EDUCATION TABLE 5.671 1.604 0.828 0. Rotation Method: Varimax with Kaiser Normalization.610 6.518 0.6% of the total variance explained by all factors.968 4.808 1.610 56. further validating its strength. Academic courses recognised in own country. Flexible timetables.067 62.681 0.036 66. Factor 3–Variables and Loadings. which indicated the high correlation of variables with the respective factors as indicated earlier. Variance of Factors.87 0.458 5.822 0. These results were further tested in subsequent regression analysis. Eigenvalues.644 0. Factor 4–Variables and Loadings.94 0. Customer Value and Study Outcomes (UNISAT3) Variables Competitive fees. Academic courses appropriate to own needs.527 Reliability alpha UNISAT1: Education Standards and Facilities UNISAT2: Information and Guidance UNISAT3: Customer Value and Study Outcomes UNISAT4: Image/Prestige and Recognition 13.591 TABLE 7. and Recognition (UNISAT4) Variables/Factors High image and prestige internationally.501 TABLE 6. Rotation converged in 7 iterations for 49. Fees that offer good value for money Recognition of prior learning. High image and prestige within Australia. Academic courses relevant to future job prospects.579 0. Completion of academic courses suited to own needs. The third criterion was the factor loadings.776 0.

and *** denotes significance at least at 0.5794 F4*** (** Denotes significance at least at 0.8002 F3*** + 0. further supporting the significance of all of the factors in predicting student satisfaction.2270 F2** + 1. and three factors: F1. and Zuhair 119 LOGISTIC REGRESSION The logistic regression model is a useful tool in modelling the predictive power of variables.7034 F1*** + 0.6818 + 0.5687 F1*** + 0. Hall. The prediction is in the form of probabilities. one with the gap scores (SD) and the other with average of the ratio scores (SR) as the dependent variable.01) The R2 values of the two equations were greater than 0. we are only interested in the direction and the strength of the contribution because of the nature of the explanatory variables. Both models showed that all four factors had a positive impact. The estimates of the logistic regression model are given below: Difference score (SD) SD = 1. bis are the regression coefficients and the other variables are as defined earlier. F3 and F4 were significant at least at the 1% level and F2 was significant at least at the 5% level. however. The estimated form of the model is: S = bo + b1 F1 + b2 F2 + b3 F3 + b4 F4 Where: S is the qualitative satisfaction score.05. In the current situation.7887 + 0. a and b are the regression coefficients.70.0554 F3*** + 0.Arambewela. Ideally on should be able compute the probabilities of being satisfied using the predicted values of Z. Two regression were estimated.5214 F4*** Geometric average of the ratio score (SR) SR = 1. Its general form is: Zi = a + bxj Where Zi is the log of the odds of a student being satisfied. xj are the factor scores.2228 F2** + 0. The logistic regression results provide evidence that the most .

although its impact on postchoice satisfaction cannot be ignored nor underestimated. which are likely to be less than one. and the overall customer value provided by the universities. reputation or the brand name of the institutions. which will have a direct influence on student satisfaction formation. and the overall customer value provided by the universities.01). however. The findings are useful for educational institutions in prioritizing action to achieve positive outcomes in the satisfaction levels of students and their choice of study destinations. However. A Chi-square contingency test showed that the three factors: F1. which have a greater impact on student satisfaction.120 JOURNAL OF MARKETING FOR HIGHER EDUCATION useful predictive factors are the quality of education. student facilities. the marketability of their degrees for better career prospects. which have been validated by this study. the marketability of their degrees for better career prospects. was insignificant at that level. Past research on university students has highlighted a variety of common factors that influence student satisfaction such as university facilities. reputation of the institutions. and F4 were all significant (p < 0. CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS The factors that have a major impact on satisfaction of international postgraduate students from Asia were the main focus of this study and the results would be of particular interest to universities specializing in this market segment. While the analysis of factor scores provide an overall picture of the key factors to be considered. F3. student facilities. teaching quality and study outcomes. the present study presents additional dimensions related to customer value sought by students. The estimated logistic equations will be useful in developing strategies and formulating policies with regard to services. given that they are based on correlations of all the variables in the factor. It was clear that the students’ concerns were mainly directed at the quality of education. and therefore positively related to satisfaction. Factor F2. . Aspects of communication and guidance appear to have more limited usefulness. The research provides an insight into the postchoice behaviour of students and the major factors contributing to their satisfaction. scores are considered only approximations of the factors. It also identifies the satisfaction variables that comprise each of these factors and the relative importance of the variables in forming satisfaction among students.

It is therefore necessary for universities to enhance their national and international standing that reflects a level of excellence in quality of education by continuously monitoring and reporting the quality of teaching and research. Bitner. 1990). in general. marketability of degrees for better career prospects. Front line employees can significantly influence the degree of satisfaction that students experience by being polite. Hall. Wakefield and Blodgett (1996) also have found that an inadequacy of facilities such as library and computer labs contribute to student dissatisfaction given that students spend a considerable proportion of their time using these facilities. but were unhappy with the university support and facilities. adequacy of student facilities. up to date. and courteous (Bitner et al. 1980) which would increase the capacity of universities to position themselves in the minds of students as being innovative. Morey. A well-developed network of alumni can also have a strong influence in building a sustainable reputation for universities (Allen and Davis.Arambewela. were satisfied with teaching quality and the quality of lecturers. knowledgeable. recognition of prior learning. 1994. and the overall customer value provided by the universities were the most important factors that had a strong impact on student satisfaction.. The negative student evaluations of such services have a bearing on the perceived quality of the overall university experience. The process-related activities such as enrollments. 1997). therefore. helpful. necessary that the quality standards of these services should be based upon students’ perspective. involved with the business community and having students’ needs at heart (LeBlanc and Nha. Compared to academic services. and Zuhair 121 The findings of this research indicated that the quality of education. quality control of these services are much easier to .. which should be of concern to university management. and timetabling can have a strong influence on student satisfaction and it is. It is also important for universities to sustain their national and international reputation through credible actions by each member of the organisation (Herbi et al. The major grievance of students was that universities have not improved or updated these facilities in conjunction with the increase in student numbers enrolled in universities. The study also provided insights into the role of faculty and administrative staff in forming perceptions of quality. 1991). reputation of the institutions. and Teece (2002) related to international students who completed a course in 1999. The study found that there is a significant relationship between perceived quality and image and prestige (reputation) of the universities. It was revealed that students. This was in concert with the findings of Smith.

1989). interaction and/or experience with key industry players should also be noted. Students develop expectations through information acquisition and universities should exercise extra caution in developing artificially inflated expectations of university services through their promotional material and overseas agency networks. Courses that have relationships with. In this context.. Universities will also benefit by conducting internal marketing research to ensure both management and faculty expectations of service delivery are in line with student expectations (Cannon and Sheth.122 JOURNAL OF MARKETING FOR HIGHER EDUCATION administer and it would be necessary for all contact personnel to be involved in setting goals and quality standards for the institution as it would be a responsibility of the faculty as a whole (Shetty. The development of a segmented approach in targeting services to students from different countries should be part of the organizational strategy. It is important for universities to recognize that Asia is a differentiated marketplace where students from different countries and different cultural backgrounds have somewhat different needs and wants to satisfy. The success of such an approach will depend on the cross cultural understanding of all employees of the university. This could be achieved by noting students who have successful or prominent careers and also by presenting statistics relating to positive employment outcomes. 1993). effective teaching methods aimed at students from different cultures and learning styles and regular course evaluations are among strategic initiatives in addressing student diversity and overall quality improvement (Brightman et al. this study contributes to the theory relating to postchoice satisfaction and fills a major gap with regard to the knowledge of customer satisfaction and dissatisfaction (CS/D) on the choice of a university as a study destination by international post-graduate business students. 1988) The marketability of degrees with regard to career opportunities is of vital importance to prospective students. Universities must also be aware of the fact that there is an increasing diversity of overseas students from a variety of Asian countries. Student expectations should be carefully examined and analyzed in order to manage expectations through the delivery of objective information (Swartz and Brown. 1994). In summary. Training sessions and seminars on cross cultural awareness. Another important finding of the study was the high student expectations shared by all groups of students. or provide opportunities for. The focus of past studies on post-choice satisfaction was ei- . it is important for universities to develop marketing strategies that create strong brand equity and confidence in the quality of their product.

2003). Recent statistics on student arrivals in the USA show that India. the following potential limitations are present. and un- . The question to consider would be whether the findings could be generalized. These limitations must be considered when interpreting the research findings. five universities in the state of Victoria. and Thailand are among the top ten sources of students with India showing a dramatic growth over all other countries (IIE. However. Getty and Thompson. Hall. Second. The analysis conducted from the perspective of postgraduate students from four Asian countries: China. that the five institutions selected for the study are among the largest universities in Australia and these universities have attracted the most number of international students from the respective source countries. to the area of post-choice satisfaction of international postgraduate students studying in Victoria. in particular.. Westbrook and Newman. in particular. given that these four countries have emerged as major sources of international students to many institutions in the world. China. The criticism against this methodology is that the expectations would be biased or contaminated by such experience (Carman. in particular. Indonesia. 1990. 1978) and measuring expectations before the service encounter can be problematic. First. if the experience is either positive or negative. It is also significant. the study deals with Australia and. 1994) in that overstating or understating of expectations could occur. India. simultaneously with the service experience. familiarity of the service leads to more realistic expectations (Halstead et al. LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY Despite the contribution of the study to new knowledge in international education and. Gronroos. Indonesia and Thailand will assist in providing a better understanding of the drivers of the postgraduate satisfaction formation process. several other researchers argue that while pre-purchase (pre-choice) expectation is an essential criterion to validate disconfirmation. It can also be argued that the issues identified in the study seem to have a common appeal and therefore would be applicable to international students in any study destination. and Zuhair 123 ther on a single institution or undergraduate students with few issues relating to student experiences. has indicated that customers are likely to modify expectations during the service experience.Arambewela. the survey instrument used for this study measured both expectations and perceived performance at one point in time. 1994. 1993. Research conducted in the tourism and hospitality industry. however. It may be argued.

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