Subject‐Specific League Tables and Students' Application Decisions

Arnaud Chevalier, Xiaoxuan Jia

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Do applicants to higher education rely on expert judgement about the quality of the course when applying? Using application data across UK universities over a period of 8 years, we investigate how league tables affect prospective students' application decisions. We use subject-specific ranking rather than the commonly used institution-level ranking. We find that a one standard deviation change in the subject-level ranking score of an institution is associated with, on average, a 4.3 per cent increase in application numbers per faculty. This effect is particularly pronounced among faculties with the best scores, and overseas applicants. Limits to the number of choices per applicant have increased the preponderance of league tables.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)600-620
Number of pages21
JournalManchester School
Issue number5
Early online date27 Jul 2015
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2016

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