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Incentivising Specific Combinations of Subjects – Does It Make Any Difference to University Access?

  • Jake Anders, Morag Henderson, Vanessa Moulton and Alice Sullivan (a1)

Abstract

A major part of the 2010–15 UK government's education reforms in England was a focus on the curriculum that pupils study from ages 14–16. Most high profile was the introduction of the English Baccalaureate (EBacc) performance measure for schools, incentivising study of “subjects the Russell Group identifies as key for university study” (Gibb, 2011). However, there does not appear to be good quantitative evidence about the importance of studying such a set of subjects, per se. This paper sets out to analyse this question, considering whether otherwise similar young people who study specific sets of subjects (full set for EBacc-eligibility, two or more sciences, foreign languages, applied subjects) to age 16 have different probabilities of entering university, and specifically a high-status university. It compares results from regression modelling and propensity score matching, taking advantage of rich survey data from a recent cohort of young people in England. We find that conditional differences in university entry attributable to subject choice are, at most, small.

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Copyright

This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Acknowledgements: Supported by The Nuffield Foundation under grant EDU/42169. The Nuffield Foundation is an endowed charitable trust that aims to improve social wellbeing in the widest sense. It funds research and innovation in education and social policy and also works to build capacity in education, science and social science research. The Nuffield Foundation has funded this project, but the views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the Foundation. More information is available at www.nuffieldfoundation.org. Morag Henderson, Vanessa Moulton and Alice Sullivan's time on this work was supported by the Economic and Social Research Council under grant ES/M008584/1.

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Incentivising Specific Combinations of Subjects – Does It Make Any Difference to University Access?

  • Jake Anders, Morag Henderson, Vanessa Moulton and Alice Sullivan (a1)

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