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Research Programmes | Education and Skills:

Post Compulsory Education and Skills

Recent work on Post-Compulsary Education And Skills

  • International vs Native Born Students in UK higher education

    Has the large influx of overseas students crowded out enrolment of domestic students? Steve Machin and Richard Murphy investigate this using administrative data on the entire UK Higher Education student population over time. They find little evidence of crowding out of domestic students. Click here for RES Conference slides discussing the project.
  • Postgraduate Education & Wage Inequality

    How has the rise in postgraduate education contributed to wage inequality?

    Joanne Lindley and Stephen Machin (2011) document increases in the number of workers with a postgraduate qualification in US and Great Britain. They show their relative wages have risen more over time not only as compared to all workers but also to graduates with only a university degree. With widespread diffusion of computers into workplaces, it turns out that the principal beneficiaries have been those more skilled workers with a postgraduate qualification. This has been an important driver of rising wage inequality amongst graduates over time. See: Rising Wage Inequality and Postgraduate Education, and the CentrePiece article for a summary.

    The educational background of postgraduate students

    Research by Stephen Machin and Richard Murphy (2010), commissioned by the Sutton Trust, suggests that there is a small but significant imbalance in favour of undergraduates who have been privately educated. This is despite the fact that students from state schools of the same class and background are more likely to get a good university degree than similar students who come from independent schools. This work is summarised in a CentrePiece article.

  • Gender and Race Gaps in US Higher Education

    Explaining Cross-Racial Differences in the Educational Gender Gap

    How do we explain the large gender gap in US college enrolment, especially among African Americans? In 2004 only 35.7 percent of all African American undergraduate students were men. Esteban Aucejo (2013) finds that family background characteristics cannot account for this and it appears that non-cognitive skills are crucial. See: Explaining Cross-Racial Differences in the Educational Gender Gap.

    Affirmative Action and University Fit: Evidence from Proposition 209

    What has been the effect of affirmative action in the US? Peter Arcidiacono, Esteban Aucejo, Patrick Coate, and V. Joseph Hotz (2013) analyse data for all applicants and enrollees at the University of California before and after Prop 209, a law in California that banned the use of racial preferences in admissions to public colleges in California. After Prop 209, graduation rates increased by 4.4%. This appears to be driven by more efficient sorting of minority students and the fact that universities responded to the law by investing more in their students, in particular in their efforts to keep students from dropping out. See: Affirmative Action and University Fit: Evidence from Proposition 209.

    Minorities and Science Degrees

    What accounts for the worryingly low number of college graduates with science degrees - particularly among underrepresented minorities? Peter Arcidiacono, Esteban Aucejo and V. Joseph Hotz examine differences across universities in graduating students in different fields. Using student-level data at the University of California, they find that science majors have stronger credentials than their non-science counterparts. Students with weaker academic preparation are more likely to leave the sciences and take longer to graduate. They show that most minority students would be more likely to graduate with a science degree and in less time had they attended a lower ranked university. Similar results do not apply for non-minority students. See: University Differences in the Graduation of Minorities in STEM Fields: Evidence from California.

    Racial Segregation Patterns in Selective Universities

    Do racial minorities benefit from greater diversity of racial intake at US universities? Peter Arcidiacono, Esteban Aucejo, Andrew Hussey and Kenneth Spenner (2013) show that despite greater diversity in University populations, significant friendship segregation still exists at selective universities, with black friendships no more diverse in college than in high school despite these colleges having substantially smaller black populations. This is largely explained by differences in academic background and the fact that students are more likely to form friendships with those of similar academic backgrounds. These results suggest that affirmative action admission policies at selective universities which drive a wedge between the academic characteristics of different racial groups may result in increased within-school segregation. See: Racial Segregation Patterns in Selective Universities.

  • Impact of university bursaries

    Despite the huge outlay in bursary spending being carried out by universities (approximately £300m in 2012), there remains no empirical evidence that bursaries are effective in encouraging low-income students or those from any background to go to university. Whilst it may be the case that bursaries have little impact on student participation decisions, providing financial support may have other positive impacts on students whilst at university. Gill Wyness and Richard Murphy are investigating some of these by looking at whether bursaries reduce the incentive for students to drop out of university and/or have an effect on the probability of achieving a 'good degree'.

  • Impact of student ratings on university applications

    How does information about student satisfaction on university choice? Steve Gibbons, Eric Neumayer and Richard Perkins (2013) investigate this using data from the UK's National Student Survey (NSS) and applications to undergraduate degree courses. They show that the NSS has a small, statistically significant effect on applications at the university-subject level. This effect operates primarily through the influence of the NSS scores on a university's position in separately published, subject specific, league tables, implying greater salience of league table rankings. The impact of rankings is greater amongst the most able students, for universities with entry standards in the upper-middle tier, and for subject-departments facing more competition. See: Student Satisfaction, League Tables and University Applications.