Public Higher Education Institutions, as Developing Organizations: Students’ Assessments

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Higher education institutions (HEIs) are one of the most important institutions of our society. Here are shaping the great concepts, ideas, knowledge, which ensure the development of the society. The area of universities action is quite wide thematically; They have many buildings, laboratories; Serve numerous students. Therefore, they are quite big organizations with rules, structure, employees and customers, which is very challenging for them. This study discusses the HEIs as developing organizations from the perspective of the students. It aims to present how students, which are customers of HEIs, perceive the administrative work and some rules in the universities. In the research participated the students of all stages of higher education: Bachelor, Master and PhD students. I conducted 3 focus groups and 7 in-depth interviews with the students of the public universities in Tbilisi. Many of them had the experience of studying in 2 or 3 universities, which makes their evaluations also comparing. I also interviewed 2 Austrian Experts, which have experience of working in East-European and Former Soviet Union countries. Some legal documents are also analyzed, e.g. the law of Georgia on higher education and different regulations in the universities. The study showed, that the public universities are quite hierarchical structurally, which raises the level of the bureaucracy. Some important issues for the students are: The bad infrastructure, which influences their first impressions, but they do not consider this as a main criterion when evaluating the universities; The poor quality of service, the Students remember many cases of rudeness and redirection from the side of the administrative stuff; Less readiness for innovations, which especially is reflected in technological novelties; Different types of rules, which sometimes are seen as senseless from the side of the students. One unexpected finding for me was the satisfaction of the students with closed curricular. Despite of the less possibility of choosing the desirable subjects and lecturers, permanent groups make them feel much comfortable. Generally, the public universities make the impression of bureaucratic, obsolete systems on the students. The experts see the influence of Georgia’s soviet experience in the problems of the HEIs. They indicate lack of trusting in the employees. This raises the number of rules in the organization, which on the one hand makes it less flexible and on the other hand demotivates the employees and this reflects on the quality of service. The study shows, that the public universities are on the lower stage of development of an organization, namely in the differentiation phase (Lievehoed & Glasl, 2011). This is expressed with the high level of bureaucracy, less orientation towards customers and the coordination types between different structural divisions.
Higher education institution, Organizational development, Differentiation phase, Customer orientation, Bureaucracy