Mary Mukami Njoroge

Strathmore University

School of humanities and social sciences

P. O. Box 59857-00200


Dr. Tabitha Wang’eri (Corresponding author)

Kenyatta University

Department of Educational psychology

P. O. Box 43844-00100


CITATION: Njoroge M.M., & Wang’eri T., (PhD) (March, 2016), Relationship between parental education levels and attrition rates among private university students in Nairobi county: International Journal of Social Sciences & Education (IJSSE) VOLUME 2 (II), 104-132. ISSN 2105 6008.


The purpose of the study was to establish the relationship between parental education levels and attrition rates among students attending private universities in Nairobi County, Kenya. Specifically the study sought to establish the attrition rates among students in relation to retakes, deferment of semesters and total drop out. In addition the study investigated levels of parental education and its relationship to attrition. The study was informed by Bean’s Psychological Theory of Retention (Bean & Eaton, 2000). The study was conducted in Nairobi County because it had the highest number of private universities at the time of the study. The study sample consisted of (N=453) respondents 387 being second year students acquired through random sampling from thirteen private universities, 60 students who had dropped out of university and six faculty members purposefully selected due to their responsibility positions in their respective universities. Data were collected through a paper based questionnaire and a structured interview schedule. The results of the study revealed that majority of the sampled students were between 21 and 25 years of age while a few were aged between 25 and 30 years of age. Students who had retaken exams once were 12.5% of the males and 9% of the females while those who had retaken exams twice were 3% of males and 4% of females. Deferring semesters was reported by 14% of females and 23% of the males respectively while those who had dropped out were 12%. Majority of the parents had high school education. Majority of the students’ parents had secondary and university education with less than 5% having no schooling at all. The relationship between parental educational levels and attrition was not statistically significant. The study recommended that students should be well prepared before they enter university so that they register in degree programs that fit well with their personalities and career interests. Parents ought to be sensitized of their roles to support students financially and psychologically so as to eliminate or minimize attrition. Universities should put in place mechanisms to identify students encountering challenges early enough before attrition occurs.

Key words: attrition, deferment of semesters, drop out, examination retaking, parental education, private universities

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