Effect of sports on students’ enrolment in private universities in Kenya
Muchemi, Kevin Wairagu
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Student enrolment is critical for any university’s survival. The last decade has seen a significant expansion in the higher education sector in Kenya, an expansion that for the last couple of years is now threatened by an increasing enrolment crisis especially for private universities. As many Kenyan universities like their counterparts’ world-over, spend resources on sports as a strategy for student enrollment, it is imperative to back such strategies with contextualized studies on the actual effect, if any, of university sports on students’ enrolment. This study builds into existing literature by primarily contributing to the mixed results conceptual gap in the global discourse on university sports and enrolment. Additionally, it includes the missing African context with perspectives from students, coaches and deans of students on the subject. The study investigates the effect of university sports on students’ enrolment with a focus on private universities in Kenya. University sports is discussed specifically as sports success and sports scholarships considerations. The study is discussed within the behavioral science and human capital theories of net price theory and rational choice theory. The three research objectives seek to establish whether university sports success and sports scholarships respectively, singly and jointly have an effect on student enrolment in Kenyan private universities. This study employs a mixed method design, integrating quantitative and qualitative data. The study employed purposive sampling method to target 6 deans of students, 5 sports students (captains) and 5 coaches in each of the 6 select private universities from Nairobi, Embu, Kajiado and Kiambu counties to target a total of 66 respondents. Two questionnaires were developed and administered in a survey to coaches and students, while an interview guide was developed and used to interview the deans of students. The overall response rate for this study was 88 percent. The research findings established that university sports success and scholarships have a positive effect on the students’ enrolment in private universities in Kenya. This was reflected in the findings that majority (over 66 percent) of students, coaches and deans of students’ respondents strongly agreed that university sports has a positive effect on student enrolment in Kenya. We can therefore conclude that it would be a worthwhile strategy for private universities in Kenya to invest in sports success and sports scholarships among other strategies to attract student enrolments in their universities.