Determinants of Student Satisfaction in Higher Education: A Case of the UAE University

Determinants of Student Satisfaction in Higher Education: A Case of the UAE University

Ali S. Gargoum (UAE University, Al Ain, UAE)
DOI: 10.4018/IJCRMM.2019100102

Abstract

Promoting and measuring student satisfaction and happiness is a primary focus of the United Arab Emirates University (UAEU) during the last few years. The aim of this research is to introduce and test a conceptual model of students' satisfaction in the (UAEU). A survey instrument designed and used for this purpose. Data (n = 498) were gathered on students from nine colleges of the UAEU. Exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses were implemented using structural equation modelling to test the proposed research model and hypothesis, which were based on a modified Parasuraman's SERVQUAL measurement tool. The results indicated that quality (service/ program) has significant impact on students' satisfaction and consequently on their happiness. Correlations between the quality constructs and the students' satisfaction were statistically significant. The study has shown that program quality, in terms of the university reputation, has the most influence, among quality constructs, towards confirming students' satisfaction. Moreover, results indicated, in general, that UAEU was successful in gaining student's satisfaction. These findings should encourage the academic authorities to support service and program quality more, in order to enhance students' satisfaction and ensure their happiness.
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Introduction

UAE higher education works to achieve qualitative and quantitative developments that take place through the expansion of the founding of private and public higher educational institutions. In 1976, the Ministry of Higher Education opened the parent university; UAE University (UAEU). Today, the UAE has over 100 higher education institutions, hosting approximately 140,000 students.

Education is a priority at both the national level and the individual Emirates, this created an increasing demand on education sector, consequently, the education environment has become increasingly competitive, and many universities have begun to adopt new quality-oriented strategies as a result. In this environment, the UAEU is implementing broad strategies for advancing the university interests related to teaching, research and services to make it a center for excellence and innovation and enhance its international ranking.

The UAEU regards flourishing happiness of its students as a final goal alongside with students ‘satisfaction. Student satisfaction has become an important factor by which institutions are judged as proxy not only for happiness but also for quality, (Elwick and Cannizzaro, 2017). In fact, the two terms happiness and satisfaction are often, used interchangeably. Many studies aimed to investigate happiness in university education, while focusing entirely on factors, which affect satisfaction.

In the last few decades, extensive research has been carried out studying the essence of quality of higher education. Many academics have linked the factors of quality to the concepts of satisfaction and happiness, and a great deal of satisfaction surveys have been developed to determine factors, which can affect the satisfaction of students.

(Dean and Gibbs, 2015) addressed the issue of the conflation of happiness and satisfaction. The authors, empirically, indicated that a line should be drawn between the two concepts. Generally speaking: measuring whether or not students state that they are satisfied with an aspect at a certain moment in time is easier than assessing whether or not they have had an edifying experience leading in the long term to happiness.

In this research, we focus on measuring students’ satisfaction based on the quality of service and programs, which is much more straightforward than judging the students’ happiness.

We aim to evaluate the student perceptions about the service/program quality of the UAEU. Moreover, to investigate interrelationships between service quality and student satisfaction using structural equations modelling (SEM).

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