Student satisfaction and the quality of education are of compelling interest to students, academic staff, policy-makers and higher education researchers internationally. There is a widespread belief in their ‘cause and effect’ relationship. This paper tests these beliefs and explores how the level of student satisfaction is linked with the perceived quality of PhD education. Using expectancy value theory as a framework and interview data from PhD students and their supervisors, this paper suggests that satisfaction is not necessarily perceived as an indicator of quality education. Levels of student satisfaction can be influenced by students’ expectations prior to their study and their preconceived beliefs regarding the value of a PhD education. Concern is raised that an overemphasis on student satisfaction may pose a threat to the quality of PhD programmes, making it increasingly difficult for universities to retain their integrity and reducing the intellectual challenges that PhD students need to experience.
- student satisfaction