An Assessment of the Reliability and Validity of the SERVQUAL Scale in the Higher Education Context of Tanzania


  • Ahmed M. Ame
  • Amani M.G. Tegambwage


Although service quality has received increasing attention in higher education, there is lack of a standardized instrument to measure it. The most popular and widely used instrument to measure service quality across industries is the SERVQUAL scale. However, since the SERVQUAL scale was developed in the retail commercial sector, its reliability and validity for measuring service quality in the higher education sector has been questioned. This is because higher education sector differs significantly from the retail commercial sector for whichthe SERVQUAL scale was developed and widely applied. This paper assesses the applicability of the SERVQUAL scale for measuring service quality in higher education, particularly in the context of Tanzania. The data were obtained from 500 students in two public universities in Tanzania. The study found out that, the SERVQUAL scale, as modified for this study, is reliable and valid for measuring service quality in the higher education sector. 

Author Biographies

Ahmed M. Ame

School of Business Studies and Economics The University of Dodoma

Amani M.G. Tegambwage

School of Business Studies and Economics The University of Dodoma


Ame, A.M. (2005). The effect of quality on satisfaction and its consequences on customers’ behavioural intentions: A study of selected service firms in Tanzania. PhD Thesis, University of Dar es Salaam.

Atrek, B., and Bayraktaroglu, G. (2012). Is there a need to develop a separate service quality scale for every sector?: Verification of SERVQUAL in higher education services. Journal of Faculty of Economics and Administrative Sciences, 17(1), 423-440.

Brochado, A. O., and Marques, R.C. (2009). Comparing alternative instruments to measure service quality in higher education. Quality Assurance in Education, 17(2), 174-190.

Cavana, R. Y., Corbett, L. M.,and Lo, Y. L. (2007). Developing zones of tolerance for managing passenger rail service quality. .International Journal of Quality and Reliability Management, 24(1), 7–31.

Cohen, R.,and Swerdlik, M. (2010). Psychological testing and assessment. Boston: McGraw-


Cook, D.A.,and Beckman, T.J. (2006). Current concepts in validity and reliability for psychometric instruments: Theory and application. American Journal of Medicine, 119, 116-166.

Creswell, J.W. (2008). Educational research: Planning, conducting and evaluating quantitative and qualitative research. New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall.

Fink, A. (1995). The survey hand book. California: Sage Publications.

Ghauri, P. N., and Gronhaug, K. (2010). Research methods in business studies (4th ed.). New York: Prentice Hall.

Hair, J., Black, B., Anderson, R.E., and Tatham, R.L. (2005). Multivariate data analysis, (6th ed.). New Jersey: Prentice Hall.

Hoe, T.C. (2005). Measuring student perception of service quality in higher education. PhD Thesis, University of South Australia.

Lee, J. (2007). SERVQUAL versus SERVPERF: Round 2 in a multi-cultural setting. Journal of Academy of Business and Economics, 7(3), 27-41.

Nunnally, J.C., and Bernstein, I.H. (1994). Psychometric theory(3rd ed.). New York: McGraw-


Palmer, A. (2011). Principles of marketing (6th ed.). Maidenhead: McGraw-Hill Education.

Parasuraman, A., Zeithaml, V.A., and Berry, L.L. (1993). Research note: More on improving service quality measurement. Journal of Retailing, 69(1), 140-147.

Parasuraman, A., Zeithaml, V. A., and Berry, L. L. (1991). Refinement and reassessment of the SERVQUAL scale. Journal of Retailing, 67(3), 420-450.

Patten, M.L. (2005). Understanding research methods: An overview of the essentials. New York: Pyrczak Publishing.

Polit, D.F., and Beck, C.T. (2004). Nursing research: Principles and methods (7th ed.). Philadelphia: Lippincott, Williams and Wilkins.

Soliman, A. A., and Alzaid, A. A. (2002). Service quality in Riyadh’s elite hotels: Measurement and evaluation. Journal of King Saud University, 14(2), 83-103.

Tavakol, M., and Dennick, R. (2011). Making sense of Cronbach’s alpha. International Journal of Medical Education, 1(2), 53-55.

Thompson, B. (2004). Exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis: Understanding concepts and applications. Washington, DC: American Marketing Association.

Tsoukatos, E.K. (2007). Customer behaviour, service quality and the effects of culture: A quantitative analysis in Greek insurance. PhD Thesis, Lancaster University.

Vanpariya, B., and Ganguly, P. (2010). SERVQUAL versus SERVPERF: An assessment from Indian banking sector. QUEST Journal of Management and Research, 1(1), 123-137.