Exploring the relation between postgraduate student satisfaction and academic staff satisfaction

Nassar, M 2016, Exploring the relation between postgraduate student satisfaction and academic staff satisfaction , PhD thesis, University of Salford.

PDF - Submitted Version
Download (4MB) | Preview


The Higher Education (HE) sector is a major contributor to the UK economy. Beyond its financial contribution HE adds value to society and generally advances global culture. Along with funding, league tables ranking and rising tuition fees one of the major challenges HE faces is competition on both national and international levels. So as to gain competitive advantage HE institutions need to satisfy their stakeholders. This research is concerned with two categories of HE stakeholder:

  1. Postgraduate (PG) taught students
  2. Academic staff.
The focus of this study is to explore the relation between postgraduate student satisfaction and academic staff satisfaction. The University of Salford’s Salford Business School (SBS) in the UK was chosen to be an exploratory case study. This study is underpinned by two research questions:
  1. How can PG student satisfaction be linked to academic staff satisfaction and explored in relation to Herzberg’s Motivation-Hygiene Theory and the Balance Theory?
  2. How does the marketisation affect PG student perceptions of HE?
Unlike previous studies which adopted positivist standpoints, this research uses an interpretive paradigm. A total of twenty-eight in-depth interviews were conducted between the 20th October 2014 and the 30th November 2015. The data subjects were twenty PG students and eight academic staff in a dyadic relationship. Participants were selected based on their knowledge and experience of SBS. NVivo software was used to analyse the semi-structured interviews as well as critical incidents discussed.

This study contributes to knowledge by investigating the relation between student satisfaction and staff satisfaction, using both Herzberg theory and the Balance theory. Findings of this research suggests there is a relation between PG student satisfaction and academic staff satisfaction, although in some cases it was not activated. It contributes to Herzberg’s Motivation-Hygiene Theory in that it shows a need to augment his framework with the impact of negative feedback when using it in future studies, particularly if considering HE. Moreover, one of the key findings is that PG students consider themselves as customers. This means that they expect high quality of service in return for the student fees paid. The methodological contribution of this research shows that data collected from members of the dyadic relationship of PG students and academic staff who teach them, offers a rich understanding of services provided by SBS.

Finally, the practical contribution of this work challenges the reliability of student surveys being conducted to measure satisfaction of students as in reality unhappy experiences were those that were shared more easily and this highlights the need to change the feedback culture in HE. Research findings highlight both the benefits and drawbacks of the Block delivery mode currently used at SBS. The findings also imply that one of the HE system drawbacks is that it focuses on and rewards research output. So it identifies a need within the management of the school to focus on and reward teaching excellence.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Schools: Schools > Salford Business School
Funders: Non funded research
Depositing User: M Nassar
Date Deposited: 20 Mar 2017 09:51
Last Modified: 27 Aug 2021 20:33
URI: https://usir.salford.ac.uk/id/eprint/40692

Actions (login required)

Edit record (repository staff only) Edit record (repository staff only)


Downloads per month over past year