Masters and doctorate student experiences of service delivery at public universities in Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa
Keywords:Masters and doctorate students, Student experience, University service delivery, Postgraduate programmes
The high student attrition at the masters' and doctorate levels requires universities to be customer-oriented, and flexible in their capacity to deliver higher value to mature students whose needs and expectations are high. Therefore, this study aims to assess student experience and service delivery levels that academic departments provide postgraduate students at public universities in KwaZulu-Natal. An empirical study was conducted amongst masters’ and doctorate students at a university of technology, a traditional university, and a comprehensive university. The study involved a survey questionnaire with a five-point Likert scale and included seven service delivery dimensions which respondents were to rank accordingly. Data were subjected to descriptive and inferential statistics and the factors that emerged from factor analysis were tested for reliability and validity by conducting Cronbach's alpha. The results show that postgraduate students are university customers and therefore expect courtesy and professionalism in the delivery of postgraduate programmes. The results further suggest that retention capabilities exist for the traditional university compared to the other types of universities. Students seem to be moderately satisfied with the quality of academic services offered by universities. Service delivery experience among students appears to vary across universities. Universities should take cognisance of the gaps and attempt to be more customer-oriented to ensure the needs and expectations of graduate students are met. The findings of the study may serve as guidelines for a follow-up qualitative study to establish the specific areas where students were not satisfied.
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