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Marketing Research

The purpose of this research will be to identify the current perception of Victoria University (VU) in the minds of the students with respect to quality. The research conclusion will be used as the beginning point for additional recommendations and changes to the University’s facilities in order to improve its perception.
What you want to achieve
The idea is to evaluate the quality of the university’s facilities from an unbiased perspective in order to seek out areas that the University administration could look to develop in order to provide a better image to future students. The research achievement would be an understanding of the current quality perception of the University held by its students.
Objective – What you are trying to achieve
We are trying to develop a quality rating of Victoria University in different aspects pertaining to the facilities and the faculty coming directly from the primary stakeholders – the students. The objective is to create an index of perceptions held by students currently studying at Victoria University in order to identify the potential strong and weak areas.
What is good for students
The importance of quality education in our modern world cannot be undermined. However, quality being a subjective term needs to be evaluated by being put into numbers in one way or another. The research conclusions will be used to study the factors affecting the quality of Victoria University and understand the relationship of different parameters on the overall perception of quality.
The research questions will be used to identify whether the quality of education remains a crucial factor in this new era of institutional shift and if it has prevailed as a fundamental competitive advantage in this corporative trend in higher education institutions and all the stakeholders involved.
Literature Review:
Education is the major source of income for Australia. In the year 2009 the international education alone contributed $17.2 billion in the income of Australian economy. (Export Income to Australia from Education Services in 2008 – 2009). It has been observed that education services are the largest service industry for Australia. There are number of students who come to Australia with some expectations. The student’s exception about the university and their perception changes overtime. The institutions have started changing their hierarchy, as the education is replaced by business in today’s world (Raciti, 2010).
To measure the service quality of any organization or institute it is necessary to have a clear understanding of the term ‘service quality’ and its application. Although it is much harder then it seems there have been attempts to describe the term more clearly and thoroughly (Wood & Brotherton 2008).
There is an on going argument of the way students rate their instructors. Franklin, Roche & Hussey (2001) believes that students take time to adjust and interact with lecturers so they are in a good position to rate there lecturers. It has been observed that students are best to judge if the pattern of the assignments or exams of any particular unit meets the requirements of the course as well as requirements of student’s expectations (Issa&Sulieman 2007).
Research proves that students rating are highly influenced by peers and external factors like the facility available and feasible for every individual. Local students and international students tend to have different views because of the background and understanding of the language (Crumbley 1995).
Every student has a different attitude towards university. Some wants to stay close to home some travel 1000 miles to have recognition of being from a particular university brand. The perception which attracts students to university is different, which again affects there satisfaction level. Research in Philadelphia proves that 30% of students didn’t apply to a particular university because of the name. It was observed that the brand name of other institutes and universities attracted students more than the quality of education (Finney & Finney 2010).
Research proves that every customer of service quality or student in this case do not have set standards defined to meet the quality of their perception. It’s been said that the perception is a subjective concept which is never constant. The perception changes with the change in the situation or increase in expectations (Kandampully et al 2001).
Source: Servqual (2007).
The above figure shows that the model of service quality has gaps. The gap is between customer’s expectation and their perception.
This research is based on the perception of students of Victoria University of the perceived quality of education and services provided by the university overall. The research is based on the current student’s feedback as they are the main beneficiaries of the education provided in the university. It also measures their satisfaction towards the university.
Primary Data Collection:
A questionnaire was distributed to 25 current students of Victoria University and the data was collected accordingly. The data collected was then entered and analyzed using SPSS software to find the answers to the research problems.
Secondary Data Collection:
Secondary data was collected from following sources:

Journal Articles.
Government sources.
World Wide Web.
Newspaper articles.

Questionnaire Design:
Questionnaire was designed to get the students view in relation to Expectation, Satisfaction, Service Quality, Word of mouth, Efficiency, Ease to Access, Punctuality and Friendliness of Victoria University as a whole.
In order to perform the investigation, the research process is going to be evaluated by introducing the data in an en electronic database to be analyzed using descriptive and inferential statistics. The purpose of inferential statistics is to make a determination about a population using data obtained only from a small sample of that population and then extrapolate this data to provide useful information about the whole universe of the population (Hair et. al 2006). Sample statistics are measures obtained directly from a sample or calculated from the data in the sample. A population parameter is a variable or some sort of measured characteristics of the entire population. Sample statistics are useful in making inferences regarding the population’s parameters (Voelz 2006).
The first step in analyzing the data from a sample of the population is to develop a Hypothesis to be tested. For most research projects, the hypothesis refers to a preconceived knowledge of the relationships the data should present. (Hair et. al 2006)
There are two types of statistical hypotheses.
Null hypothesis: The null hypothesis, denoted by H0, is usually the hypothesis that sample observations result purely from chance. (Hair et. al 2006)
Alternative hypothesis: The alternative hypothesis, denoted by H1 or Ha, is the hypothesis that sample observations are influenced by some non-random cause. (Hair et. al 2006
In marketing research the null hypothesis is developed in such a way that its rejection leads to an acceptance of the desired situation. In other words, the alternative hypothesis represents the condition desired. (Hair et. al 2006)
For the purpose of this project, the hypotheses are shown next:
Ho: There is an overall positive attitude and perceived quality from VU postgraduate students towards Victoria University.
Ha: VU postgraduate students do not have a positive attitude and perceived quality towards Victoria University.
Findings and Data Interpretation
Once the questionnaire has been designed correctly and applied to the selected sample of a population, it is time to analyze this information and interpret it in such a way that it can provide answers to the basic questions that set the topic of this research and from where the Hypothesis were formulated. The analysis of this data is divided in two sections, first, the descriptive statistics that will provide a picture of the characteristics and answers from the sample. Second, the inferential statistics are the ones that will suggest if the results obtained from this sample are statistically significant to assume that they apply to the whole universe of the population. In other words, can these findings be trusted to predict a similar behavior from the majority of the population?
Descriptive Statistics:
For a detail on all the descriptive statistics and Histograms from every section of the questionnaire, please refer to appendix 2.
Inferential Statistics:
Whenever an inference is made in marketing research, there is a risk that this inference may be incorrect. That is, in marketing research, error can never be completely avoided. Thus, there are several tests to perform in order to decide whether or not to reject the null hypothesis may produce incorrect results. (Voelz 2006)
In any testing situation, two kinds of error could occur:

Type I (false positive). We reject the null hypothesis when it’s actually true.
Type II (false negative). We accept the null hypothesis when it’s actually false.

The probability of committing a Type I error is typically denoted α, and the probability of a Type II error is denoted β.
α: the probability of making a Type I error (false positive).
β: the probability of making a Type II error (false negative).
α is often called a significance level or sensitivity. Typically, it is fixed to an accepted level, of Type I error, and go on to find ways of minimizing the level of Type II error, β. (Voelz 2006)
`           The statistical power of a test is defined as (1 − β). The purpose is usually to maximize the power of the test in order to detect as many significant signals from the data as possible. (Voelz 2006)
The t-test is a statistical test that uses the sample mean and sample variance to determine whether or not a given sample comes from a normal distribution. To use the test, it is necessary to calculate the statistic Z and find the p-value for it according to the t-distribution. (Voelz 2006)
The t-distribution is especially useful for testing the statistical significance of sample means and sample variances. Assuming there is a set of N independent, normally-distributed variables Xi,   with mean μ and variance σ2. The critical Value of α to consider each variable a significant variable is going to α= 0.05. For this reason β = 0.95, and (1-β) = α. (Voelz 2006)
Table “T” below, shows the findings on all the section of the questionnaire
Scale: 1= Very Satisfied; 2= Satisfied; 3= Indifferent; 4= Dissatisfied; 5= Very Dissatisfied
Expectation has a Mean Difference of 3.7 and a 95% Confidence Interval of (3.1 – 4.2). This means that 95% of the times, it will be accurate to predict an Indifferent or Dissatisfied answer.
Satisfaction has a Mean Difference of 4.1 and a 95% Confidence Interval of (4.0 – 6.1). This means that 95% of the times, it will be accurate to predict a “dissatisfied” answer.
Service Quality has a Mean Difference of 2 and a 95% Confidence Interval of (1.9 – 5.0). This means that 95% of the times the value will change from satisfied to very dissatisfied.
Word of Mouth has a Mean Difference of 4.5 and a 95% Confidence Interval of (3.0 – 4.9). This means that 95% of the times, a prediction of Indifference to very dissatisfied will be accurate.
Efficiency has a Mean Difference of 5.2 and a 95% Confidence Interval of (2.5 – 5.9). This means that 95% of the times, a prediction of Satisfied to very dissatisfy will be accurate.
Ease of Access has a Mean Difference of 3.2 and a 95% Confidence Interval of (2.5 – 3.8). This means that 95% of the times we can accurately expect an answer from satisfied to Indifferent or dissatisfied.
Punctuality has a Mean Difference of 4.4 and a 95% Confidence Interval of (2.7 – 5.0). This means that 95% of the times we can accurately expect an answer from satisfied to very dissatisfied.
As showed on the table, all categories have acceptable levels of significance so all of the information is trustable.
The research was conducted with limited funds and hence, the convenience sampling method was used, instead of a probability sampling technique. Because the convenience sampling method is used, there is a disadvantage as there is a chance that the views and attitudes of all groups of students were not well represented. This kind of survey is a limitation as the findings cannot be generalised, because only a handful of random students filled the survey. Thus, the drawback is that there is no real assurance that the opinions and feelings of this group of students stand for the attitudes of the rest of the students. Hence, it may be noted that the sample cannot be regarded as a true depiction of the population. A wider mix of people should have been interviewed to get a clearer picture of the perceptions of the university. The restriction to the number of people sampled is also considered a drawback when it comes to generalizing perceptions of the university (Lizzio, Wilson & Simons 2010). To have used some probability sampling technique, telephone surveys or email could have been incorporated (Lorde, Greenidge & Devonish 2010).
No research was conducted to examine the perceived quality of Victoria University by people from other institutions and other organisations. Hence, the findings from the research depict only the Victoria university student’s perceptions and where they think the university stands. The outcome could have been different if the research was carried out on a wider scale where people from other educational institutions and other organisations were questioned on their perceptions of the university. The research has a limitation also with regards to only current students were questioned, if ex-students who have passed out were questioned, the findings could have differed.
The research also did not take into account these perceptions of the staff or the people working at Victoria University. Their perceptions on the institution could be used as an important insight that determines the overall quality perceptions of the university. As Lizzio, Wilson & Simons (2002) note, “Students’ perceptions are, of course, only one source of information in making decisions. These, of course, have to be considered in the light of disciplinary, professional, and employer group expectations of curriculum content and, where possible, benchmarked against the perceptions of students in similar programmes.”(Lizzio, Wilson & Simons 2002)
It was found that some of the people who filled the survey were confused with whether the research was conducted towards finding out the perceptions towards the institution as an education organisation or whether it was to study the services provided at the institute.
The quality of education remains a crucial factor in this new era of institutional shift and has prevailed as a fundamental competitive advantage in this corporative trend in higher education institutions and all the stakeholders involved. From the findings of the research it is conclusive that most of the students at Victoria University are not satisfied by the quality of services offered by the university. It is evident from the findings of the research that customers have very high expectations about the performance of the organization. Some of the students are of the opinion that their expectations have not been fulfilled while a large portion of the students suggest that the university has fulfilled their expectations. Some students are indifferent about the fulfilment of their expectations. Similarly, the expectations of the courses offered are met by a large number of students. A very large number of the customers are satisfied by the overall quality of services provided by the university.
The use of word of mouth to communicate and market the university to potential customers has been rated poor. most of the students are of the opinion that they are not satisfied by the use of word of mouth as a means of communicating the popularity of the school to other people. The students have been dissatisfied by the efficiency of the university as an institution. Most of the students are indifferent about the ease of accessibility of the university by the students. Punctuality has been very poor because an average rating of 4.4 was obtained indicating that the customers are dissatisfied. The staffs of the university are not friendly to students because a large number of students have been dissatisfied by the level of friendliness at the university.

The university should come up with better strategies of communicating to potential customers about the popularity of the school instead of using word of mouth, for example use of newspapers, internet and others.
Punctuality should be improved by all departments to ensure that student needs are fulfilled in a timely manner.
The management should improve the quality of structures in the university to attract more students and to achieve a higher level of satisfaction.
Efficiency in service delivery should be improved because a very large number of students are dissatisfied by the efficiency of service delivery.
The overall quality of the services offered by the university can be improved by liaising with all stakeholders to identify the areas of weakness and come up with better strategies of improving the performance of the university.
To improve the relationship between staff and students it is important that a buyer/seller relationship should be established such that students will be viewed as buyers who should be respected and appreciated. The staffs, on the other hand, are the sellers of services and should be ready to become servants to the students.

Blythe, J. 2007, A look at the four Ps, with bells on. Times Higher Education Supplement, pp3-4
Heifetz, R. A., &Linsky, M. 2008, Practice of Adaptive Leadership: Tools and Tactics for Changing Your Organization and the World. Harvard Business School Publishing, pp1.
Kurtzman, J. 2008, An Interview with Jeffrey Pfeffer.Harvard Business School Education.
The following questionnaire was distributed:

Are you satisfied as a student of Victoria University?

YES                                                    NO

Do you think VU has fulfilled your expectations overall?

YES                                                    NO

Are the expectations of your course met at VU?

YES                                                    NO

Which of the following best describes your level of satisfaction as a VU student?

Very Satisfied   Satisfied   Indifferent       Dissatisfied          Very Dissatisfied

How satisfied are you at the VU as a student?

Very Satisfied   Satisfied   Indifferent       Dissatisfied          Very Dissatisfied

Will you rate this university as you are really satisfied?

Very Satisfied   Satisfied   Indifferent       Dissatisfied          Very Dissatisfied
Service Quality:

How would you rate VU’s overall service as an educational institution?

Very Good   Good     Fair   Poor   Very Poor

How would you rate the Student Services Centre at VU?

Very Good   Good     Fair   Poor   Very Poor

How would you rate the Faculty of Business in Law at VU

Very Good   Good     Fair   Poor   Very Poor
Word of mouth:

Will you recommend VU to your friends?

YES                            NO

Will you recommend VU to your relatives?

YES                            NO

I will not suggest friends to join VU?

YES                            NO

How efficient is VU as an institution?

Very Good   Good     Fair   Poor   Very Poor

How efficient is the Student Services Centre at VU?

Very Good   Good     Fair   Poor   Very Poor
Ease of Access:

How would you rate the accessibility of City Flinders campus?

Very Good   Good     Fair   Poor   Very Poor

How easy to access to the City Flinders campus?

Very Good   Good     Fair   Poor   Very Poor

Are all services at VU ontime?

YES                            NO

Is the service delivery at VU ontime?

YES                            NO

Do you think VU staffs are friendly?

YES                            NO

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