Understanding postgraduate students’ perception of service quality: a qualitative approach

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Purpose: Despite extensive research on service quality in different countries, no single model has been agreed upon to measure service quality in higher education. Most studies conducted in the UK centred around undergraduates and English Universities, with limited studies conducted in Scotland. The paper aim to understand postgraduate students’ perception of service quality in the Scottish context.

Methodology: A mono-method approach was adopted, utilising qualitative data collected through four focus groups involving 23 participants from several Scottish universities. Thematic analysis was used to analyse the qualitative data.

Findings: The findings indicate support for four dimensions of the HEdPERF model (non-academic aspects, academic aspects, reputation, and program issues) within the Scottish context. However, the access dimension was not completely recognised, contradicting the HEdPERF model. Additionally, three new dimensions emerged: support, career-related issues, and physical aspects. As a result, a seven-dimension postgraduate service quality model is proposed, encompassing Reputation, Academic aspects, Non-academic aspects, Program-related issues, Support, Career-related issues, and Physical aspects.

Research Limitations/implications: The study acknowledges limitations as it involved a small number of participants representing a single group of stakeholders in Scottish HEIs, limiting generalisation. However, the results provide valuable insights for Scottish HEIs, aiding their understanding of how postgraduate students evaluate services.

Originality/Value: This study contributes to evaluating service quality in the Scottish higher education context from the perspective of postgraduate students, using a qualitative approach. It also offers valuable insights to managers and executives in HEIs regarding postgraduate students' perception of service quality.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages27
Publication statusPublished - 31 Aug 2023
Event26th Excellence in Services International Conference - University of the West of Scotland Paisley Campus, Paisley, United Kingdom
Duration: 31 Aug 20231 Sept 2023


Conference26th Excellence in Services International Conference
Abbreviated titleEISIC 2023
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


  • service quality
  • higher education
  • postgraduate students
  • qualitative approach


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