HIGHER EDUCATION LOAN AWARD AND PARTICIPATION OF PRIVATELY SPONSORED UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS IN PUBLIC UNIVERSITIES IN WESTERN KENYA
AKUMU, OGENGA PAUL
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Participation in higher education in Sub-Saharan Africa is not only the lowest in the world but also highly selective. In Kenya specific, in spite of policy interventions designed to widen participation, public higher education has been dominated by students from the highest income quintiles. Consequently, in a bid to eliminate the socio-economic effect in participation in higher education, the government widened the scope of the students’ loan scheme in 2008 to include financially needy privately sponsored students in public universities. This study sought to determine the effect of higher education loan amount on participation of privately sponsored undergraduate students in public universities in western Kenya. Specifically, the study objectives included: to determine the effect of higher education loan amount on the type of programme of study pursued by privately sponsored undergraduate students; to determine the effect of higher education loan amount on frequency of class attendance by privately sponsored undergraduate students; and, to assess the living conditions of privately sponsored undergraduate higher education loan recipients in public universities in western Kenya. Classical liberal theory formed the basis for which this study was undertaken. The study adopted ex post facto research design and employed mixed approach in data collection and analysis. The target population comprised of all the 6,264 privately sponsored undergraduate higher education loan recipients of 2012/2013 cohort and all the 10 deans of students in the 10 public universities in Western Kenya. Stratified proportionate to size, random, and purposive sampling techniques were employed to pick a representative sample of 520 respondents comprising of 517 privately sponsored higher education loan recipients of 2012/2013 cohort and 3 deans of students drawn from three public universities in the region. Data from student respondents was collected with the aid of questionnaire while those from Deans of students were gathered using interview schedule. The instruments’ validation was undertaken by the supervisors. Reliability of the questionnaire was determined through a pilot study where a Cronbach alpha co-efficient of 0.877 was obtained. Frequency distributions and percentages, measures of central tendency and dispersion, pairwise correlation, chi square logistic and multinomial logistic regression analyses were used to analyze quantitative data. Qualitative data was however analyzed thematically by objectives. The findings were presented descriptively and in tables. The findings of the study showed that higher education loan amount had no statistically significant effect on type of program of study by privately sponsored undergraduate students in public universities in western Kenya. The findings of the study further showed that higher education loan amount had no statistically significant effect on frequency of class attendance by privately sponsored undergraduate students in public universities in western Kenya. Last but not least, the findings of this study revealed that the living condition for a majority of privately sponsored higher education loan recipients in public universities in western Kenya was poor. Consequently, the study recommends for increase of higher education loan amount and a review of award criteria with the view of differentiating the amounts inline with the cost of each privately sponsored program. The study further recommends for timely disbursement of the loan amount that should also cover living expenses of privately sponsored students just like in the case of their government sponsored counterparts. Moreover, through public-private partnership, the universities should construct more halls of residence within campus so that the students can live in learning condusive environment.