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ERIC Number: ED545638
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2012-Aug
Pages: 57
Abstractor: ERIC
Student Awareness of Costs and Benefits of Educational Decisions: Effects of an Information Campaign. CEE DP 139
McGuigan, Martin; McNally, Sandra; Wyness, Gill
Centre for the Economics of Education
The economic benefits of staying on in education have been well established. But do students know this? One of the reasons why students might drop out of education too soon is because they are not well informed about the costs and benefits of staying on in education at an appropriate time of their educational career. Indeed, the fact that university fees have trebled in recent times (in England) have led to fears that many young people may be put off from participating in further and higher education--especially those from low income backgrounds. This could exacerbate inequalities that are already very stark. In this paper, the authors investigate students' knowledge and their receptiveness to information campaigns about the costs and benefits of staying on in education. They design an "information campaign" that provides some simple facts about economic and financial aspects of educational decisions and test students' response to this campaign. The fieldwork for their information campaign mainly took place over the first two terms of 2010-2011--the period in which the trebling of university fees was announced (amid much controversy). This provided an opportunity to measure students' receptiveness to the surrounding publicity in the media. The material for the "information campaign" consisted of a (password protected) website, materials that can be used by the teacher (a video and presentation) and a one page flyer that can be handed out to students. Over 12,000 pupils from 54 schools took part in the main evaluation which took place over the school year 2010-2011. Within each school, all year 10 students (i.e. 14/15 year olds) completed a 40 minute survey (under exam conditions). They were then given a very similar survey to complete 8-12 weeks later. In between the two periods, some schools were given "information materials" whereas other schools were given the materials some time later (after their students had completed the second survey). Schools were randomly assigned into two groups--with "treatment" schools getting the materials between the two surveys and "control schools" getting the materials some time later. The purpose was to test whether students in treatment schools showed any change in knowledge and aspirations 8-12 weeks later compared to students in the control schools. The relationship between the number of media reports on tuition fees (on the BBC website) and students' knowledge and aspirations at the time of each survey was also examined. The results indicate that media reporting and a fairly "light-touch" information campaign have quite sizeable effects on student attitudes--at least in the short-term. Policy attention should focus on the incentives that schools have to invest time and effort in providing careers information (which is not regulated and does not influence "league tables") as well as available resources to ensure that information is conveyed in an appropriate way. Appended are: (1) Selected Material from "Information Treatment"; (2) Additional figures; (3) Quantile regressions--ratio of expected earnings if stays on in higher education to expected earnings if leaves school at age 16; and (4) Subject of Study in Higher Education.
Centre for the Economics of Education. London School of Economics and Political Science, Houghton Street, London, WC2A 2AE, UK. Tel: +44-20-7955-7673; Fax: +44-20-7955-7595; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: Economic and Social Research Council (England)
Authoring Institution: London School of Economics & Political Science, Centre for the Economics of Education
Identifiers - Location: United Kingdom (London)