Category Archives: Uncategorized

The DOE and US College Rankings

College rankings are important to millions of incoming students a year, yet few actually know how the rankings are compiled. College rankings consider combinations of measures of wealth, demographics, student options, eventual success and other different criteria. In higher education rankings of institutions are ordered by various factors and combinations. To give viewers a clearer look at what’s involved with college rankings at the top rankings organizations; the editors at have created this graphic to explain methodologies.

college ranking

Thanks to Alibina Burn for creating this infographic!


Quality of Higher Education and Earnings: Regression Discontinuity Evidence from the French Baccalaureate

by Serena Canaan and Pierre Mouganie

An important question in the economics of education literature is whether quality of postsecondary education has a significant impact on students’ future labor market outcomes. Our paper shows that higher quality schooling, defined by the quality of university attended and field of study pursued, can lead to a significant increase in earnings for academically marginal students.

Recent reports suggest that there is a growing wage gap for jobs in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). From a policy perspective, these fields are perceived to be the basis for innovation and governments have been increasingly investing in STEM education. For example, the United States’ proposed budget for the fiscal year allocates $2.9 billion for STEM education programs, a rise of 3.7 percent over the previous year.

While there is a positive correlation between STEM education and earnings, the evidence on whether this link is causal is scarce, especially with regards to the magnitude of the returns. Indeed, one could imagine that majoring in a STEM field in college could lead to an increase in earnings. However, it is also likely that the individuals who enroll in these fields are better students with better prospective outcomes regardless of major chosen.  As a result, measuring the true returns to STEM education is complex. Continue reading →

Mobility of students and graduates interrelated, a challenge for fiscal policy, especially the public provision and financing of higher education

A discussion of their new book The Mobility of Students and the Highly Skilled:Implications for Education Financing and Economic Policy by Marcel Gérard and Silke Uebelmesser [1]

Mobility of students in developed countries has dramatically increased over the last fifty years. Students do not necessarily remain in their countries of origin for higher education and work; they might be born in one country, attend university in a second, and find employment in a third. In the book that we have edited, contributors from Europe, North America, and Australia examine evidence of the interrelationship between the mobility of students and graduates, especially researchers; investigate free-riding problems associated with mobility, including the provision and funding of public higher education; and address the effects of education policy on human capital accumulation and economic development, offering recommendations for well-designed policies in the presence of migration of talents.[2]

Continue reading →

Towards measuring research supervision quality

By Richard TolUniversity of Sussex, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Tinbergen Institute and CESifo

Academics do many things. We teach, research, run departments, engage in public debate, and train young researchers. The outputs of some of these activities are routinely measured and thus play an important role in rewards and promotion. Other activities are rarely assessed and thus left to the intrinsic motivation of the academic. Research supervision is one. My recent work – summarized in this blog post – proposes a measure of the quality of advice to PhD candidates, the h1 index.

My proposed indicator of research supervision excellence shows that, by and large, good researchers make good advisors; but there are many people who excel at research but are less good at supervision, and many more that make great supervisors without being well published themselves. Continue reading →

2012 HE reforms reduce deficit but increase debt!

[Correction: The RAB charge for the loss on the loans issued does not score in the deficit. A discussion of this can be found in the comments below. Thank you to  for pointing this out]

by Adam Wright, National Union of Students

The primary objective of the Coalition Government has been to tackle the UK budget deficit and reduce the national debt. Deficit reduction was a main justification for the Coalition’s reforms to higher education funding, which have shifted funding from teaching grants to tuition fees financed by government loans. Indeed, the reforms have achieved their goal in lowering the deficit, but have simultaneously ballooned the national debt. One could, therefore, question whether these reforms have achieved their goal.

How can the reforms have both reduced the deficit and simultaneously increased the debt? In simple terms, the government reduced the deficit by dramatically reducing teaching grants. These were replaced by increased tuition fee loans which, due to accounting rules, have a smaller impact on the deficit than they do on the national debt figures. Continue reading →