Customer-Oriented Quality Management System in Cyprus Higher Education

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Abstract

Due to the current market pressures and the cruel competition for both students and resources caused by the rapid expansion of colleges and universities worldwide, higher education institutions (HEIs) are gradually developing and implementing more market-oriented strategies, orientations and policies. Meeting customer demands and expectations as well as maintaining effective relationships with them, is nowadays high in priority as an important determinant of superior overall institutional performance and as a major source of profitability and sustainable competitiveness. The majority of contemporary leading HEIs are increasing the emphasis given on identifying the “characteristics” of a quality university as perceived by their most important internal stakeholders, students. Quality constitutes a key success factor for HEIs, since it strengthens student attraction and retention, enhances both student and alumni satisfaction, improves graduate employability, reinforce institution’s brand name, and increases market share and profits.
Historically, quality management in higher education used to be based on external quality approaches, known collectively as External Quality Monitoring (EQM), such as audits, accreditation, assessment and external examination. However, such approaches have been heavily criticized for enabling the control of quality – to some degree- but without contributing crucially to its improvement. As a consequence, there is a growing trend by HEIs to shift the emphasis away from EQM to quality management systems that are internally developed and implemented; HEIs are increasingly engaging in quality management activities underpinned by a more customer-driven philosophy for delivering quality service.
The present empirical study explores student views, perceptions and expectations for a “quality” HEI and identifies student-defined characteristics of quality. It explores eventual differences in the expectations for a “quality” university between students of private and public universities, and indicates the priorities that the university administration should put with respect to quality determinants. A questionnaire survey has been carried out, based on a large sample of both full- and part-time undergraduate students following studies programs at both public and private universities in Cyprus.
The challenging originality of this project lies in the fact that the research conducted has addressed the concept of quality in higher education based on a pragmatic and market-oriented approach, which combines three purposes -defining, assessing and improving quality- into one. This study aspires to contribute to the existing body of knowledge about the definition of quality and quality management in higher education, to provide a conceptual framework of quality determinants based on student requirements and expectations, as well as to identify areas where extra effort for quality improvement should be put.
Descriptive and inferential statistics, namely reliability analysis (Cronbach’s Alpha), exploratory factor analysis, independent and paired sample t-test were used for testing the reliability of the collected data and analyzing them with the aim of answering the research questions. Moreover, the Importance-Performance technique was utilized with the aim of identifying and prioritizing areas for quality improvement efforts.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication59th EOQ Congress
Place of PublicationAthens, Greece
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jun 2015

Keywords

  • Characteristics of Quality, Higher Education Institutions, Stakeholders, Expectations, Students, Academics, Cyprus

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