Education

The use of ICT in the delivery of online services

Introduction

Li recent years, one of the main concerns in universities has been student satisfaction. The concept of student satisfaction is becoming increasingly important among institutions of higher learning. The customer service approach towards students that universities are using today focuses on meeting demands and expectations of students and fostering overall satisfaction.

The integration of technology in student services has the benefit of improving service delivery. Tinto (1987) explained that integrating student service processes will allow the coordination and efficient grouping of often disparate activities to produce services which are in effect, greater than the sum of their separate parts.

Moreover, Beede and Burnett (1999) argued that the traditional model of functional silos, lines and multiple offices, limited access and bureaucratic paper-driven process will have to be replaced with the new model of anytime-anyplace (24/7) access and one source of electronic data.

Population and Sample

The target population for this study consisted of RMIT business undergraduate students. However, participation in the survey was restricted only to final year students due to the fact that they had adequate experience to rate the statements in the questionnaire.

To appropriately conduct tests of statistical significance, the issue of sample size is important (Hinkin 1995). The results of many multivariate analysis techniques depend significantly on sample size. Considering these arguments and also time and resource constraints, the sample size chosen for this study was 135 respondents.

Weights of Dimensions

The weights of the three dimensions, were obtained by a process called the analytic hierarchy process (AHP), which was developed by Thomas (1980) and designed to solve complex problems involving multiple criteria. This process requires the respondents to provide judgments about the relative importance of each dimension and then specify a preference on each dimension for each decision alternative (Anderson, Sweeney & Williams 1994). “Pairwise comparisons are fundamental building blocks of AHP”. In establishing the priorities for the three dimensions, respondents were asked to state a preference for a dimension when the dimensions were compared two at a time (pairwise).

Results

An examination of the level of expectation of respondents based upon their gender revealed that females had higher expectation level than males in all three dimensions. Also, the data analysis indicated that the level of expectation increased with age and this was, indeed, what Hess (1997) discovered in his study of first year and older students.

It could be concluded that the respondents viewed these student online services as an integral part of their university experience and that there was a current changing role of student from participant to customer.

Conclusion

In general, RMIT students have higher level of expectation than satisfaction, meaning that students’ needs are not being fully met. Within the past few years, the general public has been bombarded with advertising that stresses customer service. Typically, higher education institutions do not treat their students as customers, but rather as partners in the educational process.

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