This study primarily investigates the underlying factors that help to form consumer perception of quality toward private universities in Bangladesh. Five beliefs have been identified as salient to perceive the quality of private universities of Bangladesh. These are quality faculty members, university environment, campus facility, quality education and university image/reputation. Multi-item measures were used for data collection. Results revealed that three factors: campus facility, quality education and university image/reputation have positive and significant influence on perceived quality of private university in Bangladesh. Quality faculty members and university environment do not have significant influence on perceived quality of private university in Bangladesh.
Higher education in the university level has been imparted through two major types of institutions, namely: public university and private university. The concept of private university in Bangladesh is not a very ancient one. The emergence of private university in Bangladesh began with the enactment of a series of laws governing higher education in 1992. To fulfill the ever-growing demand of institutions of higher studies, at present there are 85 universities in Bangladesh where only 29 of those are public universities and remaining 56 are private (University Grants Commission Website). Establishment of private universities released the pressure of large-scale admission seekers for the limited number of seats available in public universities. The Private University Act 1992 mentions that the main objectives of private universities are to meet the growing demand of higher education and to create skilled manpower for the economic development of the country.
The present study analyzes the perceived quality of private universities in Bangladesh focusing on some salient beliefs like quality faculty members, university environment, campus facility, quality education, image/reputation. Private universities in Bangladesh, no doubt, have contributed to responding to the social demand for higher education by absorbing a good number of students who otherwise could not have received university degree.
The private universities are attracting a large number of students, while it seems that the reputation and teaching-learning process of the public universities are secularly on the decline, despite the fact that their worldwide reputation is higher than some of the private universities. The state has to form some sort of “accreditation council” and those private universities that satisfy certain critical minimum requirements of inputs, processes, and outputs will be given accreditation by the proposed council.
RELATED CONSTRUCTS OF THIS STUDY:
Faculty Members: Faculty members are one of the most important and crucial factors for any private universities. In order to evaluate perceived quality the key factor to be considered is the quality of the faculties as it has a significant influence on the perceived quality of private universities. Also to provide quality education the faculty members are also chosen from a pool of excellent academic background with national and foreign degrees. For ensuring the sound academic environment, now private universities are emphasizing research work of the faculty members. University Environment: The university environment is another factor for choosing university and perceiving the quality of a particular university. Therefore it is important that the university must have a congenial environment that will ensure friendly student-teacher relationship, politics free and no session jam or delay in achieving graduation, well organized authority, zero discrimination and good and healthy premises.
Campus Facility: The campus facility of any private university must have the basic facilities as well as some value added facilities as the students of private universities are paying some premium price in getting the education here. Quality Education: The students who get enrolled in private universities must have a minimum educational background to qualify for the admission test and finally enrolled in the university. The curriculum is designed to meet the international standard as well as the students should be able to take part in any competitive examination with full confidence as compared to those of public universities.
The student-teacher ratio and the grading policy also have an impact on the quality education. Image / Reputation: The image or reputation of the university has an impact in the job market. The private universities like North South University, East West University, BRAC University, Independent University, Bangladesh (IUB), American International University, Bangladesh (AIUB) have been able to create an acceptance to the students and guardian community by their image and reputation.
OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY:
The objective of this study therefore is to identify, analyze, and explore how the students perceive quality of the private universities and what are the extrinsic factors (faculty strength, university environment, campus facility, brand image, and quality of education) influencing perception of quality to the students and guardians. Each of these extrinsic cues has positive or negative impact on the students’ evaluation of private universities in Bangladesh. Having identified all the cues we need to find out which cue/s has/have more influence on the students while evaluating the perceived quality of a particular private university.
REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE:
Given the importance of the topic, it is not surprising that a great deal has been written about quality. Consistency limitation preclude a comprehensive review (Castleberry 1985), only the literature that is relevant to the objectives of this exploratory study will be discussed here. Unlike the approach taken in this paper, many authors have offered definitions of quality. For example, Crosby (1979) defined it as “conformance to requirements,” while Kotler (2006) defined it as “the rated ability of the brand to perform its functions.” Others have highlighted aesthetic considerations. Thus, Bohr (1980) notes that quality “…also means aesthetic and sensuous pleasure as well…it is timeless style, simple elegance and a sensation that makes people feel comfortable and satisfied to be near it.” Garvin (1984), however, concedes that the definition of quality “remains a source of confusion.”
He states that quality often is equated with conformance to tight manufacturing standards but that there are many other dimensions of quality as well, to wit: performance, durability, reliability, serviceability, the “bells and whistles,” and aesthetic elements. In a similar view, Gronroos (1984) acknowledges the need to define quality of services in terms of consumer perceptions and suggests that service quality may be a function of a number of variables, i.e., consumer expectations, technical and functional characteristics, and image. After classifying definitions of quality that have appeared in marketing and other disciplines, Holbrook and Corfman (1985) developed a definition of quality within the framework of value theory, specifically: quality is the “extrinsic, self-oriented, passive value.” An empirical test of their conceptual definition was only marginally successful and the authors concluded that they had provided only a partial answer to the question of the meaning of quality. Years ago Wittgenstein (1953) stated that to understand quality from the consumer’s standpoint, one must be concerned with the everyday use of the word.
However, as evidenced by examples from the literature, researchers generally have not adopted this approach. Moreover, no study was found which explored the extent to which consumers’ definitions of quality depend upon the product or service being considered. Another line of inquiry in the current study is whether consumers evaluate quality before and/or after purchasing a product or service ant, if so, how. Economists, who probably have contributed most to this topic, are divided into two groups. Wilde (1981) represents those who feel quality is a search attribute (i.e., quality perceptions are formed before purchase). Others (e.g., Hey and McKenna 1981), however, feel that perceptions of quality are formed only after purchase and hence quality is an experience attribute.
Of the many issues relating to quality, consumer researchers seem to be most interested in how consumers evaluate quality. Most work has explored the effects of various cues and cue combinations on perceptions and evaluation of quality (Olson 1972, Olson 1977, and Monroe and Krishnan 1985). Recently, Gronroos (1984) and Parasuramen, et al. (1984) have developed conceptual motels of service quality and have identified possible determinants of perceived service quality. The fact that these are service quality motels suggests that the evaluation, as well as the definition, of quality is likely to be context-bound. Gronroos, however, has only tested his model with a sample of service business executives, and the Parasuramen, et al. motel is now being tested empirically. Therefore, considerable work must be done before a better understanding of the meaning and role of quality from the consumer’s perspective is achieved.
ATTITUDE TOWARDS PRIVATE UNIVERSITY:
As a purpose of the study, we examine the information integration process by which consumers form Attitudes toward Private University (APU). As per cognitive process of consumer decision- making, consumers combine some of their knowledge, meanings, and beliefs for choosing private university to form an overall evaluation. These considered beliefs might be formed by interpretation processes or activated from memory.
All Beliefs about Private University:
The pretest is conducted to identify the salient beliefs towards private university. Convenience sample of 26 students from North South University and East West University have been provided a survey question asking the attributes they consider to perceive the quality of private university.