Perceived dimensions of quality in higher education
Numerous definitions of quality exist in higher education. Diversity of stakeholders, multiplicity of services provided, and variability in the duration of such services make higher education an exceptional service sector. This research, aimed at determining perceptions of quality from the perspectives of academicians and top administrators, utilized two samples: the first was randomly selected from a pool of peer-reviewed publications representing the perceptions of academicians; the second included letters from presidents of the top 100 universities in the United States reflecting their views on quality. A total of thirteen dimensions pertaining to quality were identified in the literature. A special coding scheme was developed based on these dimensions and validated by a panel of experts to ensure content validity. This coding scheme was then used in Computer-Aided Text Analysis (CATA) coupled with principal components analysis (PCA) to examine the relevance of these dimensions academicians' and top administrators' perceptions of quality in higher education. Results indicate that all thirteen dimensions were needed to represent perceptions of quality in higher education. Two sets of meta-dimensions were identified: academic aspects, safety, evidence, and empathy, which affect the perceptions of academicians; and empathy, attitude, safety, and reputation, which influence the perceptions of top administrators. Results highlight both similarities and differences. It appears that two meta-dimensions - safety and empathy - were included in the perspectives of both groups; however, academicians appear to place more emphasis on academic aspects, while top administrators emphasize empathy and attitude. It is hoped that these research findings will help provide a clear understanding of the dimensions of quality and direct improvement efforts in such a critical service sector.