Student Satisfaction (SS) is a key factor in the attraction and retention of customers in an institution of learning. Demand for quality products and services by students have become evident in institutions of higher learning in Kenya. Universities are investing a lot of resources and efforts to become more performing organisations by providing quality products and services to their customers and in particular students. Quality Management Systems (QMS) is one way of achieving this goal. QMS is a management approach that requires consideration of the University’s operations, strategy, staff as well as students to provide quality services and hence meet students’ satisfaction. The purpose of this study was to establish the relationship between QMS and students’ satisfaction in Egerton University, Kenya. Specifically, the study sought to identify critical dimension of service quality that contributed most to students’ satisfaction, established the relationship between QMS and students’ satisfaction as well as establishing the relationship between QMS and students’ satisfaction with respect to gender in Egerton University. Ex post facto research design was used in the study. The target population consisted of 13,260 undergraduate students while 2,730 third year students were accessible population drawn from Egerton University, Njoro Campus. Purposive sampling was used to select third year students who were considered to have settled in their campus life. Proportionate stratified sampling was used to select participants from six faculties of the University while simple random sampling was used to draw required number of respondents from each stratum (Faculty). A total of 241 students participated in the study. Student Service Quality Questionnaire (SSQQ) was used to collect the data. Construct, content and face validity of the instrument was ascertained by research experts from the Department of Curriculum, Instruction and Educational Management, Egerton University. Piloting of the study instruments was carried out on 30 third year students of Nakuru Town Campus, Egerton University. Cronbach’s alpha coefficient was used to estimate reliability and was found to be 0.8866. Descriptive statistics including means, frequencies and percentages and Pearson Product Correlation (r) were used to analyze data with the help of statistical packages for social sciences (SPSS). The results were considered significant at 0.05 level of confidence. The findings of the study showed that there was a significant relationship between QMS and students’ satisfaction in Egerton University. The findings of the study may be used by Egerton University and other institutions of higher learning in improving their Quality Management Systems in order to provide quality services and enhance students’ satisfaction.

Background of the Study
Universities are important for generation, preservation and dissemination of knowledge in order to contribute to socio-economic benefits of a country (Đonlagić & Fazlić, 2015). As such, it is necessary that they assess quality of their services and establish methods for improving on quality. The concept of quality of education is associated with the achievement of agreed standards, as well as consistency between the objectives of the program and the competence of graduates (Hanna & Eugenia, 2010). Knowledge of how to satisfy students who are the primary customers of a University is important for its future success. This success depends on quality service which enables a University to attract and retain good quality students. The relationship between quality management systems and student satisfaction is therefore important because if it is understood may enable the right decisions to be made about service quality that leads to increased student satisfaction (Arokiasamy & Abdullah, 2012).

Quality Management Systems is a process which ensures that all activities necessary to design, develop and implement a product or service are effective and efficient with respect to the system and its performance Deming, 1986. Managerial philosophy of elements of Quality Management (QM) is varied; different terms like Strategic Quality Improvement, Total Quality Improvement and Total Quality Management are elements that demonstrate different emphasis based on particular aspects which are generally referred to as Quality Management Systems (Magutu, Mbeche, Onger & Ombati, 2010). QMS is the process which needs to permeate the entire organization in order to achieve effective results. QMS is a method used to enhance quality and productivity in organizations, the processes which should involve all departments, employees and customers such as students, staff, stakeholders and suppliers (Guchu & Mwanaongoro, 2012). QMS evolved from many different practices and processes, aimed at improvement of quality of goods and services that are produced in order to satisfy customer demands. The objective of QMS is to build an organization that performs services that are considered as quality by those who use them (ISO, 2008); where quality refers to the customers’ perception of the degree to which the product or service meets their expectations. When quality services are provided the result is satisfied customers. Thus, when customers are satisfied, they are an asset to an institution because they are retained and new ones are attracted to the institution because of its success (Ali & Shatri, 2010).

QMS has been implemented all over the world in different sectors of the economies. QMS which started partly in USA and partly in Japan in the 1950s led to an increased production of goods after the world war in these two economies, Karani and Bichangi, 2011. Research conducted by Quinn, Lemay, Larsen and Johnson (2009) in USA showed that implementation of QMS in institutions of higher learning resulted in improvement of quality services and performance of organizations. In addition, El-Sharef and El-Kilany (2011) revealed that implementation of QMS Universities in United Kingdom the resulted to students’ satisfaction.

In the developing economies, there is wide implementation of QMS in the service and manufacturing sectors (Guchu & Mwanaongoro, 2012). For example, Hungarian Government introduced QMS in higher Education institutions in 1992 caused by the desire to reform Institutions of learning especially in the academic processes and improve on the quality of students, academic performance as well as teacher and Student Satisfaction. Implementation of QMS resulted in great achievement of higher education institutions in Hungary in terms of effectiveness and efficiency in use of resources which led to quality education (Csizmadia, 2006). Hutyra (2007) revealed that implementation of QMS in the Czech Republic resulted in competitive ability by the University and increased proactive behaviour of employees and more important students’ satisfaction. Implementation of QMS in Malaysian Institutions of higher learning led to improvement in working relationships, increase in student enrolment and improved students’ satisfaction (Sohail, Rajadurai & Rahman, 2003). Implementation of quality management at the University of the Orange Free State resulted in the maintenance of acceptable standards in Education, efficiency and accountability and to the provision of quality services (Strydom & Holtzhausen, 2001).

In Kenya, Karani and Bichangi (2011) found out that QMS and customer satisfaction (CS) are important factors for the success of any organization. Thus, implementation of QMS led to improvement of service delivery which led to customer satisfaction. Additionally, Magutu et al. (2010) showed that implementation of QMS in University of Nairobi resulted into improvement of quality of service delivery in the institution. Further, Guchu and Mwanaongoro (2012) contented that implementation of QMS led to quality improvement, economic progress and customer satisfaction in the small and medium enterprises in Kenya.

Government of Kenya (GOK) aims at making Kenya a middle level industrialized country by the year 2030 and provide high quality life for all citizens. The Vision 2030 is based on three “pillars” of development namely economic, social and political (GOK 2007). The Economic pillars is concerned with economic development programmes and aims at achieving Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate at 10% and improve prosperity of all citizens. The Social pillar aims at building a just and cohesive society with social equity and secure environment while the Political pillar aims at realizing a democratic political system founded on the rule of law, respect for human rights and freedom of every individual in the society. Quality Education, training and research is therefore be the best vehicle to achieve the goals of these pillars. Vision 2030 may not be achieved unless illiteracy is reduced by increasing access to education, improving quality and relevance of education that meets the labour requirements of the country. This by producing innovative and creative graduates at all levels of education while at the same time utilizing the scarce resources (UNESCO, 2005).

In Kenya, quality education is regarded as not mere passing of examinations and certification, but the development of analytical and creative potential of an individual including critical, spiritual and ethical values (GOK 1998). In addition, the Government has put in place the standard criteria for assessment of quality education. Saitoti (2003) and Sallis (2002) posited that the major determinants of quality education include curriculum content, relevant instructional materials and equipment, physical facilities, conducive learning environment, the quality of the teaching force as well as credible assessment and monitoring process. Additionally, Githua (2004) argues that quality in education includes selective entrance criteria for students, stringent staff recruitment procedures, performance related funding and evaluation of education process. For quality education to be realised, there should be effective Quality Management Systems in place.

Quality Management Systems (QMS) insists on quality education which is reflected in financial and other resources management as well as offering quality services to students

(ISO, 2000). The quality and adequacy of resources such as physical facilities, equipment, teaching and learning materials have bearing on quality of education. These determine how effective the curriculum is implemented. The quality of education cannot be achieved and sustained if the resources and facilities are not available in sufficient quantity and quality. According to Okumbe (2007), an educational institution should be able to use available resources efficiently in order to achieve the goals for which it was established. This is one aspect of organisational effectiveness. Thus, effective organizations provide quality products which are determined by the quality of inputs and output in the production function (Mullins, 2007). Effectiveness as such may be judged by the extent to which an organization achieves its goals, acquires the necessary material and human resources, provides warm organizational climate and meets the expectations of the society within which it was established (Krivobokova, 2009).

Quality Management Systems helps organizations to be effective in production and distribution of goods and services. There is need therefore for the Universities to participate in valuable research aimed at helping the country achieve the three pillars of development. As such, Universities in Kenya such as Egerton University have put into place Quality Management Systems (QMS) so as to provide quality services in order to satisfy the needs of its customers especially students.

Service Quality (SERVQUAL) is a multi-item scale developed to assess customer perception of service quality in service and retail business (Parasuraman, Berry & Zeithaml (1985). Long term customer relationships require that institutions measure and appropriately adjust the quality of their customer service since service quality is a major influence on customer satisfaction. SERVQUAL is based on the preposition that service quality can be measured as the gap between the service that a customer expects and the performance they perceive to have received.

According to Piskar (2007) Customer Satisfaction is a broad term which includes perceived evaluation of a product and service and customer focus by an organization. ISO, (2000) on education emphasizes the need to improve the relationship with students by monitoring their behavioural and internal processes and to diagnose where improvements are needed for continual monitoring of student satisfaction. Satisfied students are important to an organization because they are often ambassadors of the institution who market it (Ali & Shatri, 2010). On the other hand, dissatisfied students bring about severe effects to the institution because they talk ill about the institution to many other potential clients (Krivobokova, 2009). Thus, satisfaction reduces cost in terms of marketing and exhibits loyalty to the institution (Wei & Ramalu, 2011).

In higher education, student satisfaction plays an important role in determining the success, efficiency and effectiveness of education system (Wei & Ramalu, 2011). This may imply that the higher the level of student satisfaction experienced, the better the ability the institution to groom their skill development, acquisition of knowledge and improvement of mental capacity (Muhammad & Malik, 2011). Thus, if an institution possesses education facilities with effective teaching and support staff, students are most likely to be satisfied, motivated, loyal and good in their academic performance (Rodie & Klein, 2000). ISO procedures indicate that the QMS leads to customer satisfaction due to provision of quality services and that success of QMS is highly dependent on management support. QMS is therefore an important component in the success of an organization such as Egerton University (Guchu & Mwanaongoro, 2012).

At Egerton University (EU) prior to the implementation of QMS, there was little coordination and uniformity in the processes and activities in the nine faculties, one institute and forty two non-teaching departments (EU, 2005). This may have led to lack of initiatives and inefficiencies due to lack of accountability, and hence poor students’ satisfaction. As a means of arresting this, Egerton University Management introduced a new method of management aimed at making employees accountable and responsible towards making the institution’s customer satisfied. Egerton University became certified in June 2010 after the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) was satisfied with its development and implementation of the procedures according to International Standards for Quality Management. Egerton University implemented QMS to facilitate coordination and to offer services with uniformity across all departments. Besides, it aimed at making employees accountable and responsible in providing services to customers including students. It was also thought that QMS would help Egerton staff to be empathetic and to show concern to customers especially students as well as offer timely and correct services to them. As a result of implementation of QMS, it was expected that the university would provide services which enhance students’ satisfaction and result in continuous improvement. In this study, QMS was measured by tangibles such as the physical facilities and equipment needed to provide services, responsiveness; ability to respond to students’ request on time, reliability. Also the ability to deliver the desired service dependably, accurately and consistently, assurance; ability to convey trust and confidence to students towards the services provided and empathy; ability to show personalised care and attention to them. As such, there was need to examine the relationship between Quality Management Systems and Students’ Satisfaction in Egerton University.

Statement of the Problem
Quality Management Systems (QMS) originated partly from Japan and partly from USA after the World war the II in 1950s. The adoption of this system of management led to substantial production of quality goods in the two countries. Since then many countries of the world especially developed economies have adopted this method of management in order to improve their performance in the production and distribution of goods and services. It has also helped organizations to remain competitive in attraction and retention of customers. An organisation seeking to establish quality management can be guided by quality management principles underlying ISO 9000 series. Institutions of higher education in most countries have adopted QMS due to their desire to improve on academic processes to enhance the quality of academic performance as well as staff and student satisfaction. This plays an important role in determining the success, efficiency and effectiveness of the institutions. Egerton University implemented QMS in 2010 and has been committed to quality management as indicated by its quality policy statement of being a word class university for the advancement of humanity. The University desires to generate and disseminate knowledge and offer exemplary education that contributes to national and global development. The University is also committed to providing quality products and services that meet and exceed students’ satisfaction, stakeholders’ expectations, and to comply with statutory requirements. The University has put in a lot of resources towards Quality Management Systems aimed at helping them provide quality services to its customers especially students. In addition, Quality Assurance Department was established to monitor provision of quality services by the institution especially to students. However, it has not been clear whether or not that Quality Management Systems has helped Egerton University to offer quality services to its customers following persistent complaints by students. This study therefore examined the relationship between quality management systems and students’ satisfaction in Egerton University, Njoro Campus.

Purpose of the Study
The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between quality management systems and students’ satisfaction in Egerton University, Njoro, Kenya.

Objectives of the Study
The following objectives guided this study:

i. To identify critical dimension of service quality that contributes most to students’

satisfaction in Egerton University.

ii. To establish the relationship between QMS and students’ satisfaction in Egerton University.

iii. To establish the relationship between QMS and students’ satisfaction with respect to gender in Egerton University.

Research Question
Which was the critical dimension of service quality that contributes most to students’ satisfaction in Egerton University?

Hypotheses of the Study
The following hypothesis guided the study:

Ho1: There is no statistically significant relationship between quality management systems and students’ satisfaction in Egerton University.

Ho2: There is no statistically significant difference between quality management systems and students’ satisfaction with respect to gender in Egerton University.

Significance of the Study
The research findings of this study may be useful to Educationists and Management of higher education as it highlights important factors affecting student satisfaction and hence take corrective measures. The findings may also enable the Management of Egerton University to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the present QMS approach and hence make necessary improvement to enhance students’ satisfaction. It may also contribute to the body of knowledge on relationship between QMS and students’ satisfaction which may be useful to other institutions of learning as well as research bodies.

Scope of the Study
The study was conducted in Egerton University, Njoro Campus, focusing on students in their third year of study. A sample of 241 third year students drawn from all faculties participated in this study. The study focused on five dimensions of service quality as indicators of quality management systems namely; tangibles, reliability, responsiveness, assurance and empathy. It also addressed students’ satisfaction which was established as the difference between students’ perception on services offered and students’ perception on services received.

Assumptions of the Study
This study was based on the following assumptions:

i. The respondents gave honest and unbiased information.

ii. Egerton University employees are actively involved in Quality Management Systems approach.

iii. That SERVQUAL dimension was appropriate in measuring students’ satisfaction.

iv. Third year students had settled at Egerton University and were a good source of information.

Limitations of the Study
The following were the limitations of this study:

i. Students came from diverse socio-economic environments and might have had different perceptions and expectations on service quality.

ii. Since the majority of regular students were admitted through the Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Services (KUCCPS) they may not have wished to join Egerton, their perceptions might have been different from those who had preferred to join Egerton University as their first choice.

Delimitation of the Study
The following was delimitation of the study; Students were considered as consumers of services rather than final products.

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