Journal Article


The relationship between A-level subject choice and league table score of university attended: the "facilitating", the "less suitable" and the counter-intuitive

Abstract

English students from less privileged backgrounds and state, rather than private, schools remain significantly under-represented at high-status universities. There has been little work to date on the role of A-level subject choice, as opposed to attainment, in access to university. Using linked administrative data for three recent cohorts of English entrants to UK universities, I examine the relationship between league table score of university attended and A-level subject choices, using a taxonomy of A-levels categorized according to their published efficacy for Russell Group university admission as ‘facilitating’, ‘useful’ or ‘less suitable’. I further examine the relationship of three ‘less suitable’ A-levels with league table score of university for related degree courses commonly leading to professional business careers (accountancy, business and law). Holding more facilitating A-levels is associated with attending a higher ranked university overall, even controlling for degree subject, and the converse is true for ‘less suitable’ subjects. The heterogeneous relationships of professionally-related A-level subjects with university ranking make decision-making for aspirational 16-year-olds problematic: an apparently sensible subject choice for students wishing to prepare for a professional career may, in fact, put them at a disadvantage.

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Authors

Dilnot, Catherine

Oxford Brookes departments

Faculty of Business\Business School\Department of Accounting Finance and Economics

Dates

Year of publication: 2018
Date of RADAR deposit: 2017-10-18


Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License


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