The congruence of quality values in higher education
Higher education and more specifically University education is being called to account more and more. It follows therefore that the Universities must present information on the quality of service which they provide as perceived by their customers and their supporters who supply their funding. In this thesisr esearchi s reported on the measuremenot f the quality valuesw hich Students, Lecturing Staff, and Senior Management display within the period of a leaming programme. The principal aim was to ascertain through hypothesis testing if the level of congruence of the value systems of these three main contributors to the learning experience influenced the degree of satisfaction of the Students as the customers and to develope a framework for measuring contributor's quality values. Theseo bjectivesw ere researchedin stagesa s follows; The first stage was an extensive literature review which was used to underpin the ainis and objectiveso f the researchb y establishinga n understandingo f the relationshipsb etween Culture and Values, Quality, and Service. The Service review focused upon Higher Education in the University environment including such aspects quality and culture, values and the determinantso f servicqq uality, customerf ocus and society's role within the educatione xperience,s takeholderp ositioning within the educationp rocess,f inancial considerationsm, easuremenot f satisfactiona nd dissatisfaction,a nd studentt ransformation in terms of their educatione xperience.T he review revealeda numbero f weaknessesin existing knowledge primarily that there has been little research undertaken into the measuremenot f more than two parties within an educationt ransactiona nd how the involvement of more than two parties within such is perceived in relation to customer satisfaction. The second stage of the research was a Case Study using a mixed method approach which comprised interview techniques from which a framework for measuring quality in higher education was developed, and a questionnaire survey undertaken which was used to test the framework from which a number of conclusions were drawn. The Case Study was conducted within the Business School of the Napier University of Edinburgh. Using qualitative and quantitative methodologies the study examined the expectations as prescribed by the Importance which Senior Management, Lecturing Staff, and Students placed upon aspects of their learning programme. Additionally Students were asked their perceived levels of Satisfaction with their programmes. The outcomes of iii the Case Study were analysed using triangulated methods and used to highlight any problem aspects within programmes. These aspects were then subjected to value analysis to test the effects of congruity of stakeholder values on the levels of customer satisfaction. The findings of the case study were that, during the period of the research, the degree of congruenceo f the three main stakeholdersh ad no impact upon the levelso f satisfactiono f the Students as customers of the learning programme as offered by the Business School. Further analysis of the Case Study findings indicated the following : 1) That significant core value Gaps between the levels of Student Importance and Satisfaction exist within certain aspects of their learning experience more particularly during the later period of their learning programme. 2) That the role of Senior Management within the learning programme seems to have little influence upon the Student level of satisfaction. 3) That communication channels between Lecturers and Senior Management on policies within the learning programme appear to need reappraisal. 4) That significant differences in core values of Importance exist between Lecturers and Students 5) That Student importance levels and by definition their value systems changed over the period of their learning programme. 6) That there were non-core value significant differences in the importance which Full-time and Part-time Studentsp lacedu pon certain aspectso f their progranu-neo f learning 7) That there were non-core value significant differences in the importance which Undergraduatea nd GraduateS tudentsp lacedu pon certain aspectso f their programmeo f learning 8) That there were non-core value significant differences in the importance which Undergraduatea nd Lecturersp lacedu pon a programmeo f learningy ear on year. The size and distribution of the populations sampled has enabled conclusions to be drawn on the validity and generalisabilityo f the framework for measuringq uality valuesi n the field of higher education throughout the Napier University and to some extent when factors such as cross cultural values,d emographicc onsiderationsq, uestionnaire'sw ording, etc., are taken into account as the basis for the further examination of stakeholder value systems within the education experience in the UK and internationally.