Conferences at Department of Economics, University of Toronto, RCEF 2012: Cities, Open Economies, and Public Policy

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Determinants of student’s university choice

Marta Odendal*

Last modified: %2012-%07-%24


This paper studies the determinants of student’s university choice. A wide range of economic research suggest high private and social benefits of higher education, as well as the variation of returns between institutions and degrees; however, not a lot of them focus on the aspects, which affect students’ university choice. Therefore, we model the university choice of students who decide to participate in university education in Scotland, England and Wales. We explore variation in individual’s location, their characteristics and tuition fees across the countries to identify preference towards choice of university. We use 2 methods of institution choice in which we include the full choice set (146 institutions) as the dependent variables. This allows us to calculate the choice utility, which varies with university-home distance and observed characteristics of universities. Alternative specific constants model is our preferred approach as it deals with unobserved characteristics of university location choice. We use data from the Higher Education Statistical Agency (HESA) which include the population of British graduates between 2006 and 2010. Scottish students are the cohort of interest as they did not have to pay any tuition fees for most part of our sample. Our results suggest that not only socio-economic class, but also fees, are an important factor in university choice decision process, as we find Scottish students have a lower disutility of distance.

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