Open Distance and e-Learning: Ethiopian Doctoral Students’ Satisfaction with Support Services


  • Tsige GebreMeskel Aberra University of South Africa (UNISA)
  • Mogamat Noor Davids University of South Africa (UNISA)



doctoral students, gaps model, ODeL, satisfaction, service quality, student support


This study assessed students’ level of satisfaction with the quality of student support services provided by an open distance e-learning (ODeL) university in Ethiopia. The target population was doctoral students who had been registered at the ODeL university for more than a year. To conduct a quantitative investigation, data were collected by means of a 34-item six-dimensional standardized questionnaire. Data analysis methods included linear as well as stepwise regressions. Using the gaps model as the theoretical framework, findings showed that the doctoral students were dissatisfied with four aspects of the student support services, namely supervision support, infrastructure, administrative support, and academic facilitation. In contrast, students were satisfied with the corporate image (reputation) of the ODeL university. For this ODeL university to play an effective role that coheres with the country’s socio-economic development plan, more attention should be given to the provision of supervision support, as there was strong dissatisfaction with this. The university could also build on or leverage aspects of their corporate image, for which there was strong satisfaction. Doing so will help the university make ongoing contributions and strengthen its commitment to the field of higher education and human capacity development in Ethiopia.

Author Biographies

Tsige GebreMeskel Aberra, University of South Africa (UNISA)

Tsige GebreMeskel Aberra is a graduate of Doctor of Education in the field of Education Management. Currently, she works at the University of South Africa at the capacity of the Director of the Ethiopia Regional Learning Centre. She has been working as an Assistant Professor at Addis Ababa University which gave her opportunities to publish some articles and also work as reviewer of articles that were published in the Ethiopian Journal of Education. Her research areas of interest focus around student support service quality especially in the open distance environment.

Mogamat Noor Davids, University of South Africa (UNISA)

Mogamat Noor Davids is an Associate Professor and National Research Foundation (NRF) rated academic in the Department of Educational Foundations at the University of South Africa. His experience in higher education institutions spans a wide area including universities in the east and in South Africa. M Noor Davids publishes in accredited journals and is currently the leader of a project developing of an ICT-based solution for the supervision and assessment of the Teaching Practicum Module in Teacher Education. With a broad interest in the history of education, he is researching the teaching of sensitive and controversial topics in the school history curriculum.


Dann, S. (2008). Applying services marketing principles to postgraduate supervision. Quality Assurance in Education, 16(4), 333–346.

Datt, G., & Singh, G. (2021). Learners’ satisfaction with website performance of an open and distance learning institution: A case study. International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 22(1), 1–20.

Dzakiria, H. (2005). The role of learning support in open & distance learning: Learners’ experiences and perspectives. Turkish Online Journal of Distance Education, 6(2), 95–109.

Farooq, M., Khalil-Ur-Rehman, F., Tijjani, A. D., Younas, W., Sajjad, S., & Zreen, A. (2019). Service quality analysis of private universities libraries in Malaysia in the era of transformative marketing. International Journal for Quality Research, 13(2), 269–284.

Jain, R., Sinha, G., & De, S. K. (2010). Service quality in higher education: An exploratory study. Asian Journal of Marketing, 4(3), 144–154.

Kara, A. M., Tanui, E., & Kalai, J. M. (2016). Educational service quality and students’ satisfaction in public universities in Kenya. International Journal of Education and Social Science, 3(10), 37–48.

Khalil, A. A., Ragheb, M. A., Ragab, A. A., & Elsamadicy, A. M. (2018, September 21-22). Effect of service quality on student satisfaction on SMEs: The case of private schools in Egypt [Conference paper]. International Conference on Management and Information Systems 2018, Bangkok, Thailand. (pp. 94–103).

Ministry of Science and Higher Education. (2020a). Discussion document on quality human capital for quality higher education and national prosperity. Addis Ababa.

Ministry of Science and Higher Education. (2020b). National science policy and strategy. Addis Ababa.

Napitupulu, D., Rahim, R., Abdullah, D., Setiawan, M. I., Abdillah, L.A., Ahmar, A. S., Simarmata, J., Hidayat, R., Nurdiyanto, H., & Pranolo, A. (2018). Analysis of student satisfaction toward quality of service facility. Journal of Physics Conference Series, Indonesia, 954(1). https://doi:10.1088/1742-6596/954/1/012019

Ngaaso, C. K., & Abbam, A. (2016). An appraisal of students’ level of satisfaction of support services of distance education at the University of Education, Winneba. Research on Humanities and Social Sciences, 6(10), 168–173.

Ntabathia, M. (2013). Service quality and student satisfaction of students in private universities in Nairobi County [Unpublished master’s thesis]. University of Nairobi.

Nyenya, T., & Bukaliya, R. (2015). Comparing students’ expectations with the students’ perceptions of service quality provided in open and distance learning institutions in Zimbabwe’s Mashonaland East Region. International Journal of Research in Humanities and Social Studies, 2(4), 45–53.

O’Shea, S. E., Stone, C., & Delahunty, J. (2015). “I ‘feel’ like I am at university even though I am online.” Exploring how students narrate their engagement with higher education institutions in an online learning environment. Distance Education, 36(1), 41–58.

Paposa, K. K., & Paposa, S. S. (2022). From brick to click classrooms: A paradigm shift during the pandemic—Identifying factors influencing service quality and learners’ satisfaction in click classrooms. Management and Labour Studies, 1–15.

Parasuraman, A., Zeithaml, V. A., & Berry, L. L. (1985). A conceptual model of service quality and its implications for future research. Journal of Marketing, 49(4), 41–50.

Parasuraman, A., Zeithaml, V. A., & Berry, L. L. (1988). SERVQUAL: A multiple-item scale for measuring consumer perceptions of service quality. Journal of Retailing, 64(1), 12–40.

Secreto, P. V., & Pamulaklakin, R. L. (2015). Learners’ satisfaction level with online student portal as a support system in an open and distance e-learning environment (ODeL). Turkish Online Journal of Distance Education-TOJDE, 16(3), 33–47.

Sembiring, M. G. (2015). Student satisfaction and persistence: Imperative features for retention in open and distance learning. Asian Association of Open Universities Journal, 10(1), 1–11.

Sibai, M. T., Bay, B., & Rosa, R. D. (2021) Service quality and student satisfaction using ServQual model: A study of a private medical college in Saudi Arabia. International Education Studies, 14(6), 51–58.

Sisay, S. (2020, January 4). Ministry seeks excellence with plan to classify public universities Ethiopian Monitor.

Southard, S., & Mooney, M. (2015). A comparative analysis of distance education quality assurance standards. The Quarterly Review of Distance Education, 16(1), 55–68.

Teeroovengadum, V., Kamalanabhan, T. J. & Seebaluck, A. K. (2016). Measuring service quality in higher education. Quality Assurance in Education, 24(2), 244–258.

Tsige G. A. (2016). Ensuring the quality of doctoral student support services in open distance learning [Unpublished doctoral thesis]. University of South Africa.

Van Deuren, R., Tsegazeab, K., Seid, M., & Wondimu W. (2016). Ethiopian new public universities: Achievements, challenges and illustrative case studies. Quality Assurance in Education, 24(2), 158–172.

Wael, T. (2015). Using SERVQUAL model to assess service quality and students’ satisfaction in Pavia University, Italy. International Journal of Research in Business Studies and Management, 2(3), 24–31.

Wodwossen, T. (2020, October 01). What next for a partially differentiated HE system? University World News, Issue No. 285.



How to Cite

Aberra, T. G., & Davids, M. N. (2022). Open Distance and e-Learning: Ethiopian Doctoral Students’ Satisfaction with Support Services. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 23(4), 147–169.



Research Articles