22 SES 04 A, Management and Governance in Higher Education.
For an efficient and equitable system of higher education, higher education institutions should compete for students, students should be able to choose the institutions and study subject that are close to their preferences and aptitudes and talented potential students should not be barred from studying. However, it is a long standing empirical fact that the geographical distance to the nearest university has a significant impact on the probability that a potential students will study at all and the most recent research also shows that the distance impacts the probability of applying to selective colleges. Although these correlations between the distance-to-university and the probability of studying look convincing, they are subject to a potential endogeneity bias, as the geographical location of the parents of future students is not random. Therefore, it might well be that potential students from family backgrounds that have lower educational expectations are also located far away from universities and that their study decisions would not alter, if they would live nearby a university. In our paper we therefore analyze research questions that are less likely to be biased by endogeneity issues. We analyze whether the probability to apply to a central university (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology) that has a unique study program (study fields that cannot be studied elsewhere in the country) depends on the distance to this specific institution and also whether the probability to study a particular study subject increases if the student lives near a “mono-field” university that offers only a limited range of study-subjects. We are convinced that the research questions analyzed in our paper are relevant for all European countries and are likely to have important implications for other countries than Switzerland as policy makers and university administrators in all countries need to understand the implications of improving accessibility to higher education institutions.
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