“Are The Services Enough”: The Issue of Service Quality in Higher Education

Dr Ijeoma Onwumere , Lecturer, Staffordshire Business School


How service quality affects students and its continuity has been a recent debate phenomenon in Higher Education Institutions (HEI). The way student perceived service quality has been a growing research interest in higher education (HE). Service quality includes all form of services rendered to student in HE which can be defined as a method of assessment that results from the evaluation of customer expectations with perception of performance; in other words, with regards to how customers really evaluate the services rendered.

Student perceptions of service, results from the comparison of expectations before service is received and the actual experience of that service. Therefore, the importance of service quality not only to HE but to all organisations cannot be neglected as it is regarded as a critical element of competitiveness through service superiority and differentiation. However, the question of what forms Service quality within the HE is a controversial one.

Services are not marginal activities but must be acknowledged as an intrinsic part of a society, which form an influential force in today’s global economic development. Owing to high financial GDP contribution by students in HE which leads to a progressive thriving economy in today’s competing environment. HEI are more concerned with and continuously seek to develop the quality of service of education that they provide to the student, firmly focusing on student centric mission, guaranteeing assurance of student satisfaction and quality provided. This is because students are now faced with eccentric challenges and fee-paying student (international student) like other consumers are now demanding attention to their student service and experience, greater value for money, and wanting their voice to be heard. More so, irrespective of high cost of fee, an institutional reputation can be improved by high performance of services.

Therefore, the need to understand how a student perceived the quality of service received is quite essential for every institution. The reason being that when HEI provide analyses and understand how student evaluate services, it may assist in attracting and retaining student. Higher education sectors need to improve their services, through consistent heightening of their service strength through quality teaching, innovative facilities, pastoral care, improved customer services in order to meet the needs, demands and expectations of their student and maintain student satisfaction.


References

Dehghan, A., Dugger, J., Dobrzykowski, D., & Balazs, A. (2014). The antecedents of student loyalty in online programs. International Journal of Educational Management, 28(1), 15-35. doi:10.1108/IJEM-01-2013-0007

Kärnä, S., & Julin, P. (2015). A framework for measuring student and staff satisfaction with university campus facilities. Quality Assurance in education, 23(1), 47-66

Sally, B. (2011). Bringing about positive change in the higher education student experience: a case study. Quality Assurance in education, 19(3), 195-207. doi:10.1108/09684881111158027

Sultan, P., & Wong, H. Y. (2012). Service Quality in a Higher Education Context: An Integrated Model (Received Emerald’s Award for Excellence 2013). Asia Pacific journal of marketing and logistics, 24(5), 755-784. 

Sultan, P., & Wong, H. Y. (2013). Antecedents and consequences of service quality in a higher education context: a qualitative research approach. Quality Assurance in education, 21(1), 70-95.

Teeroovengadum, V., Kamalanabhan, T., & Seebaluck, A. K. (2016). Measuring service quality in higher education: Development of a hierarchical model (HESQUAL). Quality Assurance in Education, 24(2), 244-258.

Staffordshire Business School – Research Profile

About Us

Staffordshire Business School aspires to be a leader in making a real impact on business and society through collaborative research and innovation. Our team of academics have successfully delivered many industry/business and government funded research projects and have extensive experience of leading large team projects including local, UK, EU and internationally funded projects. 

Many of our team members combine rich industry and practitioner experience with academic rigour in conducting world-leading research and generating social and economic impacts in a wide range of areas and fields. Our expertise includes but is not limited to the following research streams and clusters:

Business and Management

  • Human Resources Management
  • Labour Market, Employment Relations and Migration
  • Organisational Change and Development
  • Public Sector Management
  • Leadership and Management Learning
  • Corporate Governance and Firm Performance
  • Corporate Social Responsibility
  • International Business and International Management
  • Place Marketing and Branding
  • Consumer Behaviour and Health Marketing
  • SME Innovation
  • Merger and Acquisition
  • Strategic Management and Leadership
  • Financial Management
  • Entrepreneurship and Innovation
  • LGBT Tourism and Family Tourism

Digital Transformation and Innovation

  • Digital business strategy
  • Digital marketing and social media
  • Esports business and management
  • Digital technology diffusion in the financial sector
  • Digital entrepreneurship

Smart Cities/Communities/Urban and Regional Development

  • Smart cities strategy
  • Analysis and Evaluation of Public Policy on Urban Development (i.e. health; social care; urban education)
  • Place Leadership
  • Welfare reform
  • Community engagement and social inclusion
  • Environmental issues and sustainability

Postgraduate Research

Our academics conduct empirical research and are actively publishing across a range of disciplines.  As such they have a long history and a successful track record of research supervision at both MPhil and Doctoral levels. We are excited to welcome you to join our postgraduate research student community.

To find out more about our team and their scholarly expertise, please visit: https://www.staffs.ac.uk/academic_depts/business/people/

Contact Us

For partnership and collaboration with us in industry-oriented projects in both public and private sectors, please contact Professor Fang Zhao – Associate Dean – Research and Enterprise at fang.zhao@staffs.ac.uk.

For enquiries about our MPhil or PhD program, please contact:

Staffordshire University Graduate School at graduateschool@staffs.ac.uk.

Annual Global Business Directions Conference

Thursday February 6th 2020
Location – Ashley LT001
Dr Ijeoma Onwumere and Kathryn Taylor

As the ‘Connected University’ to meet the needs of our student, businesses and society, the focus of this year’s conference will be on “Global Business Challenges: Thriving in a hyper-connected Global World: The way forward”.  We shall be exploring contemporary issues which businesses are facing globally and how these influence different areas of a business, such as, Digital Marketing, Business Administration and Strategy, Supply Chain in addition to the Health Service. The aim to support learners in building the advanced level skills of critical awareness and reflectivity necessary for a successful career in the 21st Century.

We are pleased to announce that this year’s keynote innovative, globally experienced and industrial speakers are: Tony Evans; Luke Bracegirdle; Balint Laszl; Dr Abdul Jabbar; Dr Radi Haloub; and Steve Lawley.


Tony Evans, Head of Financial Services, UK Amazon Web Services

Tony Evans

Tony Evans, Head of Financial services, UK amazon web services. A globally experienced & innovative executive, working with customers to create data-driven digital strategies. He takes personal pride in developing customer-obsessed solutions, top talent and creating a world-class performance culture.

Tony has vast interest in growth leaders, Digital Disruption, Big Data, change Management and Business Strategy. Also, as former Head of Leonardo and Analytics,Tony was responsible for enabling customers to leverage SAP’s innovation portfolio, to drive business transformation and operational improvement. As the executive sponsor for SAP Machine Learning and Cloud customer adoption, Tony partnered with customer executive teams to promote SAP’s next generation computing platform. At SAP, Tony led SAP’s billion-dollar North American Database business and has managed the North American financial services business as the Chief Operating Officer.

Prior to SAP, Tony has a successful track record in driving Business Process Reengineering and change management for global organisations, including PepsiCo, Lucent Technologies and IXNet. Tony has also held senior leadership positions across Oracle, BlackBerry and SAP, where he has led the organisation of sales, technical and marketing professionals, driving revenue growth through partnership with customers.

Tony is an alumnus of Staffordshire University, where he graduated with BA (Hons) in Business Studies and a Diploma in Marketing from CIM. Tony has an MBA in Change Management from the University of Brighton and is a qualified Project Manager with the Project Management Institute, an organisation he sat on the board of in NYC and represented in the Global Project Management Forum. Tony also sits on the board of a successful start-up, CrowdFlik where he partners with, and advises the CEO around business strategy.

In addition, we have excellent guest speakers from our network of local businesses and Alumni who will be sharing some of their valuable experiences.

Luke Bracegirdle BSc (Hons) Director of Virtual Health SHED Ltd.

Luke develops mobile applications, virtual reality and augmented reality digital resources for health. His work to develop a learning system for health students at Keele University was recently “Highly Commended” at the Times Higher Education Leadership and Management Awards 2018 for the Outstanding Digital Innovation of the Year category.

He is now working for the Digital Inclusion Programme for North Staffordshire, funded by NHS England to create patient information resources for voice activated assistants (e.g. Alexa), smartphones and tablets.

As a Director for the Virtual Health SHED, he leads on projects working to create innovative digital solutions for patient information and clinical training.

Luke has several Selected Publications:

Patents

  • Bracegirdle L and Chapman SR. Virtual Human Interaction System. AU.

Journal Articles

  • Humphreys M and Bracegirdle L. 2013. Using a Virtual Learning Environment within Simulation to enhance inter-professional team working skills. EDULEARN13 Abstracts, 4263-4268.
  • Richardson A, Bracegirdle L, McLachlan SIH, Chapman SR. 2013. Use of a Three-Dimensional Virtual Environment to Teach Drug-Receptor Interactions. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, vol. 77(1), Article 11.
  • Bracegirdle L and Chapman SR. 2010. Programmable Patients: Simulation of Consultation Skills in a Virtual Environment. Bio-Algorithms and Med-Systems, vol. 6(No. 11), 111-115.

Chapters

  • Pringle JK, Bracegirdle L, Potter JA. Educational forensic e-gaming as effective learning environments for Higher Education Students in Forensic Science Education and Training. Editors: Williams A, Cassella JP, Maskell PD. 1: 119-136. Wiley 30 Jun 2017 (Chapter 9) http://eu.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-1118689232.html
  • Humphreys M, Rosenorn-Lanng D, Bracegirdle L. 2013. Using a Virtual Learning Environment within Simulation to enhance inter-professional team working skills and patient safety. In Patient Safety and Quality Dimensions of Health Informatics. Michell V, Gulliver S, Rosenorn-Lanng D, Currie W, Kuljis J (Eds.). IGI Global, Pennsylvania.

Dr Abdul Jabbar: Director of Learning Development 

Dr Abdul is the Director of Learning Development at Huddersfield University Business School. He is a guardian award winning academic with significant experience in software development, network design and e-commerce business models. Abdul is responsible for the Centre of Learning, Innovation and Development which has a focus on developing the student experience and providing innovative teaching and learning solutions. He is also the course leader for the cutting-edge course Business Data Analytics degree.

As part of his research Abdul has been successful in developing and running a fully functional Blockchain. Utilising his software skills and his expertise in business analytics.

Abdul has modelled and simulated different business processes within a Blockchain environment to ascertain the potential use case scenarios to support business growth. Current research has a focus on Blockchain and the use of real-time processing in automated decision making, with a view to anticipate the changing world of work.

Selected publication:

Balint Laszlo: Founder/ MD B2Control.net

Balint Laszlo is the Founder and MD of project consultancy company B2Control. He is currently a Senior Programme Control Consultant to National Grid’s Viking Link project, responsible for the time and cost controls for the overall programme of EPC work including cables, converters and civil’ s contracts.

After spending nearly, a decade in engineering the shift to project management has enabled Balint to work on major projects including London Power Tunnels in the UK, Lower Churchill Converters and Transition Compounds Project in Canada and Buk-Dangjin-Godeok project in South Korea. Working in the energy sector Balint passion towards sustainable energy production and consumption fired some debates with his peers and friends. Balint holds a BA(Hons) in Business Administration, Management and Operations and Engineering Degree in Telecommunications. https://www.b2control.net/

Dr Radi Haloub Senior Lecturer in Strategy

Radi is interested in multidisciplinary research and teaching between the Business School, School of Applied Science and School of Engineering by teaching Strategic Management for non-Business Students and leading Business Research projects.

Radi’s research interests lie in the areas of general Management, more specifically on Strategic Management, Minority Entrepreneurship, Forecasting and Business Ethics. Prior to joining the academia, Radi worked in practice for nine years in a strategic planning department at an international pharmaceutical company that operates in MENA (Middle East and North Africa) countries, in addition to his last post as a Unit Head at Procter and Gamble’s distributor (IATCO) in Saudi Arabia.

Radi is currently looking at the impact of culture and religion in social integration of minorities and its influence on forced entrepreneurship status for refuges and economic migrants.

Radi has served the community in the UK by conducting consultancy projects with Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust (CHFT), Kirklees Council, Calderdale Council, in addition to a few projects for Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Yorkshire.

Selected Publication

Funded projects:

BA/Leverhulme funded project: Radi was commissioned as Co-investigator and working with Deema Refai and John Lever. This project titled: A Better Future – Understanding Refugee Entrepreneurship (BFURE). The team has been commissioned to carry out multi-site researches in West Yorkshire region and develop refugee’s skills and integration into the society. The project is supported by the Kirklees Council and some voluntary sector organisations such as Huddersfield Sanctuary and Yorkshire Spirit CIC (Education). Value: £6,060 (ongoing).

University Sandpit project: Radi was commissioned as the Principal Investigator and working with Deema Refai, Toby Martin and John Lever. This project titled: Sounding Out Refugees Stories in Jordan (SORJ). This is an interdisciplinary project to explore the journeys of Syrian refugees in Jordan and the challenges they face, focusing particularly on how these journeys and challenges lead them to engage in entrepreneurship, whereby they enhance their socio-economic cohesion. The project aimed to turn refugee stories into two songs to be presented at two main events in Jordan (at a university and a secondary school, respectively) to promote the positive image of refugees through songs. Value: £14,300 (completed in 2019).

Santander Student Mobility Funds: Radi was commissioned to lead a group of four MSc students to present and contribute to Business Ethics workshop at the American University of Madaba in Jordan. The workshop and presentation were conducted at the School level and all students and academics were involved. Value: £5,000 (completed in 2016).

Steve Lawley: Director, ThriveNet

Steve has worked most of his career with BT in a wide variety of roles in field engineering, customer service and programme management, also heading up the UK planning division when the Broadband network was initially being built. With 10 years’ experience at senior manager level in BT, he became Business Services Director in the Openreach division, responsible for business connectivity across the UK, before leaving BT in 2017 to become founder of his own consultancy business.

Steve is currently working with several business clients in the fibre and connectivity arena where his expertise in network asset investment is key to supporting current & future IP based technologies.

Steve holds a Master of Science (MSc) degree in Telecommunications Business from University College London, although has attended the Staffordshire campus previously before it became a Business School.

Venue
Staffordshire University
Business School
Location Ashley LT001

Programme for the Day

09:00 Registration and Networking
09:30 Welcome and IntroductionsIjeoma Onwumere & Kat Taylor
09:40 – 10:20 Keynote Speaker 1Tony Evans
Global Business Challenges: Thriving in a hyper-connected Global World: The way forward
10:30 Break
10:40 – 11:20 Speaker 2Abdul Jabbar
Artificial Intelligence & Big Data in today’s Business
11:30 – 12:10 Speaker 3Luke Bracegirdle
Technology innovation, Global Cross
Culture and Global business ethics’ in
health care medicines and IT policies.
12:10 Lunch and Networking
13:00 – 13:10Introduction to afternoon
13:10 – 13:50 Speaker 4Balint Laszlo
The effect and impact of green
sustainability in business
13:50 Break
14:00 – 14:40 Speaker 5Radi Haloub
Global Cross culture and Global business ethics in Business
14:45 – 15:25 Speaker 6Steve Lawley
Business Challenges – Digital Disruption and More
15:35 Summation and Closing RemarksIjeoma Onwumere & Kat Taylor
16:00Close

Organiser contact details:

Ijeoma Onwumere ico@staffs.ac.uk – 01782 294670
Kathryn Taylor Kathryn.Taylor@staffs.ac.uk- 01782294675

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The Development of a Global Citizen – Embedding Cultural Awareness into the Curriculum: Student Visit to British University Vietnam

Carol Southall, Senior Lecturer, Staffordshire Business School


As the ‘Connected University’, Staffordshire University has a long history of working with international partners to deliver undergraduate and postgraduate education worldwide. Such links facilitate UK higher education (HE) provision, making HE available to those for whom it would otherwise be unaffordable were they to have to travel to the UK to study.

One such partnership is with the successful British University Vietnam (BUV), located in the north of Vietnam, in the country’s capital, Hanoi.

Now with a new, purpose-built campus in the Ecopark area of the City, BUV is expanding its course provision and consequently its student base, and now attracts students not only from Vietnam but also a small number from countries such as S Korea, Mongolia and Pakistan.

Since 2016, BUV have offered a UK summer school to their students, with small numbers, accompanied by staff members, travelling to the UK to spend a week at Staffordshire University and a further week exploring England.

In 2019, Student Experience funding made it possible for the first time to offer such an opportunity to Staffordshire Business School’s (SBS) Tourism Management and Event Management final year students based at Staffordshire University’s Stoke-on-Trent campus. The fund, with an additional contribution from students, supported the field trip to Vietnam to engage with British University Vietnam’s inaugural tourism conference, 5-6 December 2019 – ‘Vietnam Tourism in the 21st Century’.

Keynote speeches focused on ‘Sustainability’ and ‘The Journey to Cultural Awareness’, delivered by SBS Senior Lecturer and BUV Academic Link Tutor Carol Southall. The Vice Chairman of Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) Dr Ha Van Sieu also outlined the exponential growth in Vietnamese tourism since the country opened its doors to tourism from the West in 1988, from initial arrivals figures of under 93,000 to 16 million in 2019.

With his focus on ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’, or rather ‘The Good, Risks and Challenges’, Andrew Nisbet, Cluster General Manager of The Hilton Hanoi Opera and Hilton Garden Inn Hanoi, discussed the importance and development of the hospitality industry in Vietnam and its challenges going forward. Such challenges included staff development and training and the importance of education. Additional challenges identified by other speakers included destination marketing and the comparatively low marketing budget of US$2 million annually, compared to the US$80 million budget invested in Thailand’s destination marketing, as well as airport capacity and alternative (niche) tourism products and services.

Throughout their time in Hanoi, students were able to experience traditional northern Vietnamese food, including delicacies such as Egg Coffee, Bánh mì and Bun cha, the latter being immortalised in the tourist ‘must-eat’ list, after the then US President Barack Obama visited Hanoi and ate Bun Cha at a local restaurant in 2016. 

The visit also incorporated key tourist sites such as the jaw-droppingly beautiful Trang An Landscape Complex, recognised by UNESCO and located within the Ninh Binh Province of North Vietnam, near the southern edges of the Red River Delta. Other excursions included a boat trip through Halong Bay, another UNESCO World Heritage Site, as well as local attractions in Hanoi including Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, the Temple of Literature, Ho Lao prison (the infamous Hanoi Hilton), Walking street, Heritage House, Hoan Kiem Lake, Old Town and the City’s night market.

A highlight of the visit was an evening reception at the British Embassy Hanoi, where students and academics networked with industry to discuss their experiences of Vietnam and possible future opportunities. Visiting Discova, a Hanoi-based inbound Tour Operator, on their last day, students discovered more about tourism in Vietnam, and how a tour operator capitalises on international markets. Discussions were held around how the first Formula 1 in Hanoi in April 2020 will put Vietnam ‘on the World Stage’, evidencing to Event Management students the importance of global events in showcasing a destination. Students also heard more about the challenges faced by Vietnamese tourism organisations and operators, including those of sustainability, repeat visitation, cultural sensitivity and the competitive nature of the MICE market (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Events) and the corresponding growth of destinations such as Hanoi, Danang and Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) as MICE destinations.

As a connected University it is imperative to consider how we connect, not just locally, regionally and domestically, but also globally. Opportunities for cultural exchange, such as field trips, virtual classes, Skype/Microsoft Teams discussions, staff and student exchange, placements and collaborative academic research projects all enable the interaction required to facilitate cultural understanding and integration, leading to higher levels of cultural competence.   

For students on an undergraduate degree there can be no doubt that such a trip is a life-changing experience. Becoming a global citizen and melting the cultural iceberg takes time. We need to understand the journey from cultural sensitivity to increased cultural awareness and cultural competence, and ultimately to global interconnectedness and understanding. But any journey starts with the first step, and for Staffordshire Business School students, their journey to cultural competence is well-underway.

Enterprise and Employability Week

Week Commencing Monday 20th January 2020

Starting from Monday 20th January, Staffordshire Business School will be running a whole week of activities designed to enhance student employability and enterprise skills.

Activities include:

  • TestFest exams to become a certified Miscrosoft Office Specialist
  • A drop in session to discuss ideas and suggestions with the Business School Senior Management Team
  • Guest speakers from organisations such as the Staffordshire Chamber of Commerce and international universities

Take a look at the schedule below for timings and more information:

Melting the Cultural Iceberg: A Journey to Cultural Awareness

Carol Southall, Senior Lecturer, Staffordshire Business School



As tourists we are apt to display a level of cultural arrogance that is often not representative of the person we are in our daily lives. We make assumptions about a destination, its people, lifestyles and all the overtly obvious elements of culture to which we expose ourselves during a trip, such as language, dress, religion and food.

In 1978 Edward Said controversially identified ‘the other’ in reference to those with whom we are unfamiliar, highlighting the false cultural representations informing western preconceptions and subsequent imperialist behaviour. Often used to refer to people of ‘oriental’ (Middle-eastern or Asian) origin, Said’s seminal work focused on western perceptions of the ‘other’, and difficulties in integrating western and eastern cultures (Said, 2003).

When we are exposed to the ‘other’ we may display a level of cultural superiority in an effort to assimilate our environment. We consider our own culture to be superior to that which we are experiencing, as our own cultural norms may be our only reference point on our cultural ‘compass’. We thus demonstrate an air of arrogance in assuming this. In struggling to understand the cultural context in which we find ourselves, we revert to the relative familiarity of what we know and understand, assuming it to be superior to that in which we find ourselves. We fail to fully understand other cultures and thus respond inappropriately to them and do not engage with them, often preferring to find a familiar enclave and settle there in the relative comfort of a familiar environment, McDonalds, a British pub, restaurants serving English breakfast (in the case of English tourists) etc.

In today’s globally connected world there is an increasing call for global citizens, and yet the question is, what is a global citizen, how do we connect, and in a time of political turmoil and upheaval, for the UK in particular, how important is this?

A global citizen is someone who is able to demonstrate an understanding of the world and their place in it. The interconnected nature of the world as a result of globalisation means that increasingly there is a need for those who are able to demonstrate a high level of cultural awareness.

Cultural awareness is a result of immersion, culture shock and introspection, and even good humour plays its part. Cultural immersion requires time, effort, knowledge and understanding, but it is the key to cultural awareness and the ensuing cultural competence required for greater cultural integration.

There are 3 key ingredients in cultural competence:

  • Self-knowledge
  • Experience, not just in the form of books and films, but immersion in culture. Try it, touch it, eat it, make mistakes, apologise, listen, try again
  • Positive change

In 1986 Weaver applied an iceberg analogy to previous cultural literature (Hall, 1976) and subsequently identified the cultural iceberg, consisting of 3 layers:

  • Surface culture – including the more obvious elements of culture such language, food and dress
  • Unspoken rules – hidden below the surface and taking more time for an outsider to understand, these include business and social etiquette and symbolism of colours
  • Unconscious rules – the most difficult and yet the most important characteristics to know and understand. These are the things that people adhere to and believe in without conscious thought, including verbal and non-verbal communication, sense of time, physical distance and emotional responses.

So what can we do to become a global citizen? To melt the cultural iceberg and uncover and understand the unspoken and unconscious elements of culture that lead from cultural sensitivity to increased cultural awareness and cultural competence, and ultimately facilitate global interconnectedness and understanding? It is suggested that the only way to learn the internal culture of others is to actively participate in their culture. This takes time, commitment and an open mind.

We cannot judge a new culture based only on what we see when we first enter it. We must take time to get to know individuals from that culture and interact with them. Only through this can we uncover the values and beliefs that underlie the behaviour of that society and hope to make positive steps towards cultural understanding and integration. Consideration of all as equals is fundamental to progressing cultural awareness, argues Vaudrin-Charette (2019).

Only through cultural competence on the part of all groups in society can there be greater acceptance between and within groups of people, and, who knows, the world may just become a better place.

References

Said, E. (2003) Orientalism. London: Penguin Books.

Vaudrin-Charette (2019) Melting the Cultural Iceberg in Indigenizing Higher Education: Shifts to Accountability in Times of Reconciliation. New Directions for Teaching and Learning. 157, Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Published online in Wiley Online Library (wileyonlinelibrary.com)

Weaver, G.R. in Paige, R.M. (1986) Cross-cultural orientation: new conceptualizations and applications. University Press of America.

For information on studying Tourism and Events at Staffordshire University click here

Financial Literacy and sustainability

Dr Ahmad Mlouk, Senior Lecturer, Staffordshire Business School


In a ‘Global Financial Literacy Survey’ carried out for S&P in 2014, four questions were asked to measure financial literacy among world population whereby 150,000 people were surveyed in more than 140 countries. The following 4 questions were asked (answer options in brackets) and those who correctly answered 3 out of 4 questions were regarded as ‘financially literate’.

1. Suppose you have some money. Is it safer to put your money into one business or investment, or to put your money into multiple businesses or investments? [one business or investment; multiple businesses or investments; don’t know; refused to answer]

2. Suppose over the next 10 years the prices of the things you buy double. If your income also doubles, will you be able to buy less than you can buy today, the same as you can buy today, or more than you can buy today? [less; the same; more; don’t know; refused to answer]

3. Suppose you need to borrow 100 US dollars. Which is the lower amount to pay back: 105 US dollars or 100 US dollars plus three percent? [105 US dollars; 100 US dollars plus three percent; don’t know; refused to answer]

4. (i) Suppose you put money in the bank for two years and the bank agrees to add 15 percent per year to your account. Will the bank add more money to your account the second year than it did the first year, or will it add the same amount of money both years? [more; the same; don’t know; refused to answer]

(ii) Suppose you had 100 US dollars in a savings account and the bank adds 10 percent per year to the account. How much money would you have in the account after five years if you did not remove any money from the account? [more than 150 dollars; exactly 150 dollars; less than 150 dollars; don’t know; refused to answer]

You might wish to have a go at this survey. The first 10 correct answers to all questions can each claim a free bar of chocolate. In order to participate, you must be based at Staffordshire University Stoke Campus. E-mail your answer to: a.mlouk@staffs.ac.uk

Sadly, the outcome of the survey was that only one third of world adult population are financially literate. This picture is a lot better for most developed countries, in the UK for example, according to the same survey, two third of adults are considered financially literacy. However, a recent Financial Conduct Authority survey found that 4.1 million people to be ‘in serious financial difficulty’, which means they are unable to cope with the payments of credit card and other debts. According to the Money Charity in the UK, total debt per adult was £31,284 at the end of August 2019, total interest payment over 12 months to the end of August 2019 was a staggering amount of £50,722 million, that is the equivalent of £139 million per DAY! Students have a big share of this … they need to be savvy with their economics, political and financial affairs! They need to become super financially literate in order to overcome this big hurdle in their early life and career! The above is not sustainable and there has to be a way out of this ‘open prison’ for so many people.

Here is a good tip for you: plan your finances AND avoid the use of credit card if at all possible and, if used, ensure to pay off the balance on time otherwise you will pay ridiculously high interest. Credit card interest on average at the end of August 2019 is 20% per annum at the time when Bank of England base rate of interest is 0.75% (November 2019). For more information and to further develop your financial literacy, visit www.themoneycharity.org.uk.


We offer undergraduate and postgraduate courses in Accounting and Finance at Staffordshire Business School

Gender Diversity in the Workplace

Dr Bharati Singh, Senior Lecturer, Staffordshire Business School


It’s that time of the year when it’s my turn again to write a blog for the Staffordshire Business School. So, I have pondered and contemplated and deliberated on what to write and have decided to continue with the theme from last year on sharing some thoughts from working in the corporate world.

Dr Bharati Singh

For this blog, I will dwell on gender diversity. Albeit, a narrow range consisting of pay gap and equal opportunities. While I have not personally experienced any gender discrimination with regards to pay and feel that I have been treated fairly in all my various jobs and roles with the various companies that I have worked with; I am aware that this is an ongoing issue and all the companies that I have previously worked for had a gender diversity forum.

Recently, I saw a video that was advertised by one of my previous employers. It showed young girls talking about their career aspirations. There was joy in their voices. However, when they were told that men in the workplace get paid more than women, the pictures captured of these girls showed confusion, anger, bewilderment.

A 2018 report by McKinsey (a consulting firm) states that companies do not walk the talk on gender diversity. While there are more women graduates than men who are negotiating their pay and promotions, while at the same time still in the same work as men, this is not translating into equal woman representation at higher levels of the corporate chain.

It is not only in the corporate world that the pay gap between the genders is high but also in the world of sports. Serena Williams, a US tennis player and winner of 23 grand slams, had spoken out on this matter more than a decade ago which finally led to Wimbledon being last on the block of grand slams to equalise the gap in 2007. However, the gap remains across other sports. Some argue that this is because women sports earn less money, but this was not the case with women’s soccer, which has led the US women’s soccer team filing a gender discrimination lawsuit.

SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 22: Serena Williams speaks on stage during keynote conversation at 2019 Watermark Conference for Women Silicon Valley at San Jose McEnery Convention Center on February 22, 2019 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Marla Aufmuth/WireImage)

Globally, there remains a 32% gender gap as per a 2018 report by the World Economic Forum. It states that the progress towards closing this gap is rather slow with more countries regressing rather than progressing. The countries with the highest parity are the Nordic countries. They can do so due to the explicit support of policymakers towards gender equality in all public and private aspects. Hence, for countries to remain competitive and inclusive, policymakers will require gender equality to become critical to a nation states human capital development.

A 2019 research report in HBR confirmed that higher gender diversity leads to more productivity in firms in relation to market value and revenue. However, countries which did have liberal policies towards childcare and parental assistance, such as Japan, still do not benefit due to stiffly patriarchal work cultures. Another research by Australian Government states that a more inclusive environment helps retain employees. 

What is needed is a monumental shift in thinking as to why gender diversity is important. Just a few companies or a few countries cannot help the cause; the requirement is a cultural change. Where women make almost 50% of the world population, it is imperative to recognise gender diversity as a need of the hour towards enhancing organisation performance and attracting and retaining top talent. 

Click below to learn more about the courses we offer at Staffordshire Business School:

The power of branding #racetowin 2019

Prof. Vish maheshwari, Associate dean and professor of marketing


It is that time of the year again when festivities are in full swing for the imminent arrival of Christmas. There is a special feeling around mostly ‘merry’ but with a touch of somewhat uncertainty about few other developments that I would like to avoid discussing on this occasion!!

However, concentrating on the interesting #racetowin approach from most retailers to acquire as much customer interest, awareness and conviction (in the form of business), it is fascinating to see and experience how power of branding and varied marketing communication strategy is put in action.

From emotion to cognition, symbolic to functional and logical, social to societal aspects, but all with a touch of empathy, being crafted by retailers to connect with their customers at the time of this wonderful festive season. Below are some of the examples to understand application and delivery of brand essence through impactful storytelling:

McDonalds’ Christmas advert portrays close bond between Archie the imaginative reindeer and a young girl called Ellie, displaying the love and togetherness for families.

(Image: McDonald’s)

As usual much awaited each year, John Lewis (and Waitrose) advert this time aims at combining the sense of joy, love, compassion, excitement and friendship between a little girl Ava and a young dragon called Edgar.

(Image: John Lewis & Partners/PA)

Whereas, Boots have focused its advert around practicalities and struggle to find the right gift for your loved ones and is part of its wider festive campaign ‘Gift Like You Get Them’. This is alongside the launch of its new and creative approach through developing various personas to find perfect gifts using curated edits online called Boots ‘Boutique’ covering both offline and online platforms.

On the other hand, the online retailer Very.co.uk has focused its Christmas campaign around important aspect of community spirit promoting a powerful message of social responsibility and sharing the joyfulness of festivities by ‘act of giving’ and collectiveness.


Finally, it’s the return of Amazon’s singing boxes again for third year in a row but with a better emotional touch where the delivery of Christmas gifts through these boxes claim to play an important part in bringing smiles for your loved ones and create wonderful festive memories.

The examples above demonstrates that the concept of delivering brand essence and identity through meaningful interactions. Using relevant messages helps in connecting with customers through different attributes across all channels of integrated marketing communication. It also develops a recognisable brand image for recollection and reconnection with a positive impact and assured conviction during ‘selection/choice making’ stage as part of buying behaviour process. It reinforces the power of brand and branding that goes beyond mere physical and experiential attributes of a product or service.

To end – it is important to assert what philosopher Stephen King once stated that ‘products can be quickly outdated but a successful brand is timeless’


#GEW2019

About Global Entreprenuership Week:

From the 18-24November, Global Entrepreneurship Week inspires people everywhere through local, national and global activities designed to help them explore their potential as self-starters and innovators. These activities, from large-scale competitions and events to intimate networking gatherings, connect participants to potential collaborators, mentors and even investors—introducing them to new possibilities and exciting opportunities…Continue reading

Learn more about Global Entreprenuership Week 2019 by visiting: https://www.genglobal.org/united-kingdom

#GEW2019

What makes an entrepreneur?

June Dennis, Dean of Staffordshire Business School


We’ve been celebrating Global Enterprise Week at Staffordshire Business School this week and have welcomed some fantastic guest speakers.  What’s been very evident is that there is no one reason or way to start your own business – each guest speaker has had a uniquely individual journey and experience. In some instances, they have fallen into self-employment, in others, it was a well thought through and planned decision to do so.

So what makes a successful entrepreneur?

There are so many lists out there that can offer you the top 3 or 7 or 20 traits you must have to be a successful entrepreneur.  This is my list based on what our guest speakers shared this week!

Passion & determination – if you are to succeed, you need to be passionate about your business proposition.  What’s the point of setting up a business in something you don’t like or believe in?  However, passion alone will not be enough.  It really does help if you love what you do, but you need to be prepared for setbacks.  I can promise you that things won’t go as smoothly as you hoped. There will be times when you question whether you did the right thing.  That’s when you need to be resilient and, as they say, ‘keep calm and carry on’.

Strong work ethic & self starter – when you work for yourself, it’s very easy to have a lie-in when you don’t feel like working without realising that time is your most precious commodity.  Even when you don’t feel it, you have to push yourself to make that phonecall, finish the report or knock on the door.  You need to be disciplined.  One friend, when he didn’t have any work, used to go to the cinema or meet friends for a coffee.  Another friend would purposely post leaflets around the neighbourhood to promote his business.  Can you guess which one was most successful?

…but also a good finisher – basically, you won’t get paid until you finish the job.  And, you need to finish the job in good time.  So don’t procrastinate.  Sometimes, ‘good enough’ is better than not getting the job done in time. You won’t get repeat business if you don’t deliver on time.


Creativity – you don’t necessarily have to have a new-to-the-world invention or be able to design amazing advertising campaigns, but you do need to be a good problem solver and find ways around problems that come your way.  That’s being creative! 


Keep an eye out for opportunities – Be a purposeful networker.  You don’t have to be an extravert to develop a supportive network and you never know what’s around the corner!  Nearly every contract I received resulted in further business, either from the same organisation or as a result of them passing my details on to a third party.  For example, as a result of writing Mintel reports, I was contacted by the chief executive at the time asking if I could act as an expert witness in a court case.  The timing wasn’t great and I had to juggle domestic commitments and workload but saying yes to this one phone call provided me with the opportunity to be one of a handful of special marketing experts – and it paid well!

Know your worth – friends may ask for freebies or big discounts sometimes with the promise that you’ll get lots of publicity.  If they value you, they will pay for your services or goods.  Occasionally, they may be able to offer you something in kind, such as your first review or office space.  I got a free hair cut from my hairdresser when we spent the time it took to cut my hair discussing how he could improve his pricing policy.  It was win-win and neither of us took the other person’s services for granted. As an expert witness, I realised no one queried how much I was charging, so I increased my fees by £50-£75/day for each new quote.  I never got turned down….

And finally,

Be prepared to learn – constantly!   If you weren’t successful in getting a contract – find out why.  If you made a mistake, learn from it.  Get feedback whenever you can and look at ways to develop new skills.