Influence of Perception of University Students on Utilization of Peer Counselling Services in Selected Universities in Kenya
Peer counselling refers to the help among and by people of the same age group or people operating at the same level who take charge of assisting each other on various issues that affect them. Based on this understanding many universities have established peer counselling as one of the ways of helping university students to cope with their day to day issues. The purpose of this study was to establish how the university students perceive peer counselling services and its influence on utilization of these services. The study utilized a descriptive correlational design, in which the researcher was primarily interested in describing relationships among variables. The site of the study was selected universities in Kenya and the target population was third and fourth year undergraduate students in universities in Kenya. Stratified random sampling technique was used to select the universities. The third years and fourth year students were purposefully selected to take part in the study. The study used simple random sampling to select 400 students from the third and fourth years in the selected universities. Questionnaires and focus group discussion guides were used to collect data. Quantitative data was analysed using descriptive statistics in form of means, percentages and frequencies. Logistic Regression Model was used to establish the significant demographic variables that consequently had an influence on the relationship between perception and utilization of the peer counselling services at the universities. The Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) version 21.1 for Windows software was used to aid in quantitative data analysis while the qualitative data was grouped and analysed thematically. The findings of the study revealed that a large percentage of the university students (75%) had negative perception on Peer Counselling Services which subsequently influenced negatively on the utilization of the services. It also revealed that while 15% of the students utilized Peer Counselling Services at different levels, a larger percentage, 85% never utilized Peer Counselling Services at any time. The findings also revealed that more females (69%) than males (31%) had positive perception of the services. While the findings also revealed that more fourth years (51%) than third years (49%) had a positive perception, the type of university (public or private) did not have a significant influence on the perception of the students and the utilization of Peer Counselling. Some of the major recommendations the study made were: to consider the type of perception the university students have on peer counselling services, the university management need to provide relevant training to its peer counsellors and provide close supervision by the trained counsellors, peer counsellors are recommended to undertake all trainings offered by the university management which involves peer counselling activities, as well as sensitization of activities conducted in the university to all students. This information could help the students to have a more positive perception of PCS, and hence utilize the services more.