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Does the growth in higher education mean a decline in the quality of degrees? CEPS Working Document No. 405/March 2015

Beblavý, Miroslav and Teteryatnikova, Mariya and Thum, Anna-Elisabeth. (2015) Does the growth in higher education mean a decline in the quality of degrees? CEPS Working Document No. 405/March 2015. [Working Paper]

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    In this paper the authors construct a theory about how the expansion of higher education could be associated with several factors that indicate a decline in the quality of degrees. They assume that the expansion of tertiary education takes place through three channels, and show how these channels are likely to reduce average study time, lower academic requirements and average wages, and inflate grades. First, universities have an incentive to increase their student body through public and private funding schemes beyond a level at which they can keep their academic requirements high. Second, due to skill-biased technological change, employers have an incentive to recruit staff with a higher education degree. Third, students have an incentive to acquire a college degree due to employers’ preferences for such qualifications; the university application procedures; and through the growing social value placed on education. The authors develop a parsimonious dynamic model in which a student, a college and an employer repeatedly make decisions about requirement levels, performance and wage levels. Their model shows that if i) universities have the incentive to decrease entrance requirements, ii) employers are more likely to employ staff with a higher education degree and iii) all types of students enrol in colleges, the final grade will not necessarily induce weaker students to study more to catch up with more able students. In order to re-establish a quality-guarantee mechanism, entrance requirements should be set at a higher level.

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    Item Type: Working Paper
    Subjects for non-EU documents: EU policies and themes > Policies & related activities > education policy/vocational training
    Subjects for EU documents: UNSPECIFIED
    EU Series and Periodicals: UNSPECIFIED
    EU Annual Reports: UNSPECIFIED
    Series: Series > Centre for European Policy Studies (Brussels) > CEPS Working Documents
    Depositing User: Phil Wilkin
    Official EU Document: No
    Language: English
    Date Deposited: 04 Mar 2015 10:44
    Number of Pages: 31
    Last Modified: 04 Mar 2015 10:44

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