Economics an elite subject for elite universities An

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Economics: an elite subject for elite universities? An investigation into the changing nature of

Economics: an elite subject for elite universities? An investigation into the changing nature of economics provision in the United Kingdom Higher Education sector James Johnston Contact: james. [email protected] ac. uk

The rationale for the study 1. Concern over the withdrawal of economics programmes. 2.

The rationale for the study 1. Concern over the withdrawal of economics programmes. 2. What these withdrawals tell us about the health of economics as a university subject. 3. And the implications for different parts of the HE system. 2

Research questions 1. What distinguishes retainers from withdrawers? 2. Is economics in danger of

Research questions 1. What distinguishes retainers from withdrawers? 2. Is economics in danger of becoming an ‘elite’ subject confined to elite universities? 3

Framework for interpreting the current level of economics provision in the UK HE Sector

Framework for interpreting the current level of economics provision in the UK HE Sector (Table 1) Offered economics Did in offer economics 2012 Did not in 2012 not offer Offered Did not offer economics before 2012 (Retainers) 2012 (Withdrawers) 4

The current state of provision of economics programmes in the UK HE sector What

The current state of provision of economics programmes in the UK HE sector What economics programmes do UK universities provide? • Economics, Business Economics and Financial Economics were by far the most common titles on offer in 2012 • Sixty-six universities (55%) in our sample of 119 universities offered single Economics, Business Economics or Financial Economics 5

Table 2: Economics provision (‘new’ and ‘old’ universities) Providing ONE of the three options

Table 2: Economics provision (‘new’ and ‘old’ universities) Providing ONE of the three options Providing TWO of the three options Providing All three options 1. Aberdeen 2. Aberystwyth 8. Bradford 3. Anglia Ruskin 12. Cardiff 15. Coventry 4. Bath 13. Central Lancashire* 30. Kingston 5. Bangor 16. Dundee 44. Plymouth* 6. Birmingham 17. Durham 59. Swansea 7. Bournemouth 18. East Anglia 9. Bristol 21. Essex 10. Brunel 22. Exeter 11. Cambridge 23. Glasgow 14. City 24. Greenwich* 19. East London* 26. Hertfordshire* 20. Edinburgh 27. Hull 21. Essex 29. Kent 25. Heriot-Watt 31. Lancaster 28. Keele 32. Leeds 36. London School of Economics 33. Leicester 37. Loughborough 34. Liverpool 38. Manchester 35. London Metropolitan* 41. Newcastle 39. Manchester Metropolitan* 42. Nottingham 40. Middlesex* 46. Queen Mary 43. Nottingham Trent* 49. Royal Holloway 45. Portsmouth* 51. Sheffield 47. Queen's – Belfast 52. Sheffield Hallam 48. Reading 53. SOAS 50. St Andrews 54. Southampton 57. Surrey 55. Stirling 60. Ulster 56. Strathclyde 62. UWIC 58. Sussex 61. University College London 63. Warwick 64. West of England, Bristol 65. Westminster 66. York 6

Points of interest • In northern parts of the United Kingdom, such as Scotland,

Points of interest • In northern parts of the United Kingdom, such as Scotland, economics exit titles of any sort appear to have been almost entirely removed from the prospectuses of the new university sector • The best predictor of whether a university offers an economics title is almost certainly whether it is ‘old’ or ‘new’ Paradoxically: • Three new universities - Coventry, Kingston and Plymouth- offer single honours in Economics, Business Economics and Financial Economics; while only two of the ‘old’ universities offered all three titles 7

The link between the Research Assessment Exercise and the provision of economics programmes •

The link between the Research Assessment Exercise and the provision of economics programmes • Of the sixty-six universities identified by us as offering an economics programme, only 33 (50%) actually had an economics entry in the 2008 RAE • In contrast, only three of the eighteen new universities which were identified as offering an Economics degree in 2012 - Kingston, London and Manchester Metropolitan - had an economics entry in the 2008 RAE 8

The link between the Research Assessment Exercise and the provision of economics programmes •

The link between the Research Assessment Exercise and the provision of economics programmes • When compared to the economics and econometrics submissions, it is noteworthy that of the 89 entries in the Business and Management Uo. A in the 2008 RAE, 37 (42%) were new universities • Similarly, of the fourteen submissions in the Accounting and Finance Uo. A in 2008, 6 (43%) were new universities • Both of these proportions are high relative to the Economics and Econometrics Uo. A where only three of the thirty-five submissions (9%) were from new universities 9

Consequences: intended or unintended? • Given the incentive structure universities face, this change in

Consequences: intended or unintended? • Given the incentive structure universities face, this change in priorities should not come as a surprise to economists • It is an illustration of how national research evaluations have influenced UK universities Where is this trend leading us? 10

University alliances and economic provision • Only two of the Russell Group and the

University alliances and economic provision • Only two of the Russell Group and the 1994 group did NOT offer economics programmes • Of the “University Alliance” group, 11 out of 23 members offered economic programmes • Only 8 of the 27 members of the “million plus” group of universities offered economics programmes 11

Retention and impact on performance: withdrawers appear to differ from retainers 1. Table 3

Retention and impact on performance: withdrawers appear to differ from retainers 1. Table 3 shows what is happening within the new university sector. In terms of performance. 2. Withdrawers seem to do a little better than retainers in terms of some indicators of institutional performance. Is there a learning effect? 12

Table 3: New university retainers and withdrawers compared Indicator of performance Retainers[1] Withdrawers[2] Average

Table 3: New university retainers and withdrawers compared Indicator of performance Retainers[1] Withdrawers[2] Average Entry Tariff 234 245 Average Percentage with a job 55 60 1. 89 2. 00 82 80 after 6 months Average Research Assessment Rating – Business and Management[3] Average Guardian Table Position League 13

Details of the geographic split in the provision of economics programmes since 2003 •

Details of the geographic split in the provision of economics programmes since 2003 • Table 4 shows 16 universities identified as withdrawing at least one economics title • While Table 5 shows ‘new’ university retainers and withdrawers • ‘Old’ universities (until now) seem to be largely immune from the withdrawal of economics titles 14

Table 4: Economics titles withdrawn between 2003 -2012 University 1. University of Abertay Economics

Table 4: Economics titles withdrawn between 2003 -2012 University 1. University of Abertay Economics Financial Economics 2007 2. University of the West of England** 2007 * 3. University of Central England 4. University of East London** Business 2003 2007 2006 5. University of Glamorgan 2005 6. Glasgow Caledonian University 2007 7. University of Liverpool** 8. Liverpool John Moores University 2007 2009 9. Edinburgh Napier University 10. Northumbria University 2008 2005 2004 11. Nottingham Trent University** 2006 12. Oxford Brookes University 2009 13. University of the West of Scotland 2011 14. Salford University 2009 15. Staffordshire University 2004 16. Teeside University 2004 2009 2005 15

Table 5: New University retainers and withdrawers (complete) Retainers Complete Withdrawers 1. Anglia Ruskin

Table 5: New University retainers and withdrawers (complete) Retainers Complete Withdrawers 1. Anglia Ruskin 1. University of Abertay 2. Bournemouth 2. University of Central England 3. Central Lancashire 3. University of Glamorgan 4. Coventry 4. Glasgow Caledonian University 5. East London 5. Liverpool John Moores University 6. Greenwich 6. Edinburgh Napier University 7. Hertfordshire 7. Northumbria University 8. Kingston 8. Oxford Brookes University 9. London Metropolitan 9. University of the West of Scotland 10. Manchester Metropolitan 10. Salford University 11. Middlesex 11. Staffordshire University 12. Nottingham Trent 12. Teeside University 13. Plymouth 14. Portsmouth 15. Sheffield Hallam 16. UWIC 17. West of England, Bristol 18. Westminster 16

Geographic impact of the withdrawal decision • In addition, there seems to be a

Geographic impact of the withdrawal decision • In addition, there seems to be a distinct north-south divide • There is no ‘new’ university economics provision above a line from Preston to Sheffield 17

The four interviews • All four were ‘new’ universities • Two withdrawers and two

The four interviews • All four were ‘new’ universities • Two withdrawers and two retainers • The two withdrawers were in the north, the two retainers were in the south • Anonymity guaranteed • Informal interviews each lasting about 2 hours at or near the institutions 18

Contrasting experiences Retainers Withdrawers • Demand for economics programmes had remained healthy • Economics

Contrasting experiences Retainers Withdrawers • Demand for economics programmes had remained healthy • Economics had always been part of the Business School • Economics was strongly supported by senior management • Economists were very active in School/Faculty business • Economists brought in significant income from external engagement • The demand for economics programmes had fallen considerably over time • Economics was once a separate section/department • Economics lacked support from senior management • Economists were not very active in School/Faculty business • Economists were less actively engaged in external income generation 19

Conclusions 1. ‘Old’ universities have been much less likely to withdraw the subject than

Conclusions 1. ‘Old’ universities have been much less likely to withdraw the subject than ‘new’ universities. 2. Within the ‘new’ university sector, there is a suggestion in the UCAS data that universities may be responding to the incentives in league tables by altering their suite of programmes to maximise league table positions and that this has led some to remove economics. 3. There is an emergence of a geographical dimension to the provision of economics in the ‘new’ universities. 4. Our small survey has identified five contrasting features distinguishing retainers from withdrawers. 20