Centre for Vocational Education Research LSE RSS Email Facebook Twitter


CEP discussion paper
Inequalities in student to course match: evidence from linked administrative data
Stuart Campbell, Lindsey Macmillan, Richard Murphy and Gill Wyness August 2019
Paper No' CEPDP1647:
Full Paper (pdf)

JEL Classification: I22; I23; I28

Tags: higher education; educational economics; college choice; mismatch; undermatch; education

This paper examines inequalities in the match between student quality and university quality using linked administrative data from schools, universities and tax authorities. We analyse two measures of match at the university-subject (course) level, based on student academic attainment, and graduate earnings. We find that students from lower socio-economic groups systematically undermatch for both measures across the distribution of attainment, with particularly stark socio-economic gaps for the most undermatched. While there are negligible gender gaps in academic match, high-attaining women systematically undermatch in terms of expected earnings, largely driven by subject choice.