Geography, choice and participation in higher education in England
Geographical distance between parental home and college poses a potential barrier to higher education entry, and could be a deciding factor when choosing between institutions. Low income and ethnic minority groups are often considered to be especially constrained in their education choices because they need to stay at home for financial or cultural reasons. This paper provides new quantitative evidence on these issues from England. It improves on previous studies by using a large administrative data set on a population of school leavers and by using methods that allow for great flexibility in the way that student characteristics might influence choices. Our findings are that geographical distance has little or no impact on the decision to participate in England, but has a strong influence on institutional choice. Institution attendance probabilities fall with distance from home, with an elasticity of −1. Small, but potentially important differences between student groups have implications for the sorting of students across institutions, and hence the spatial distribution of human capital.
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