Monthly Archives: July 2008

BJIR Best Paper Award 2008

It is announced that the BJIR Best Paper Award 2008 will be assigned to Francis Green for his paper “Leeway for the Loyal: A Model of Employee Discretion” published in BJIR (British Journal of Industrial Relations) March 2008 issue.

The award will be announced in the September 2009 issue of BJIR journal and the winning article and author will be profiled on the journal’s website – the article will be made available in electronic form.

The article “sheds new light on a topic of considerable interest to the Journal’s readers, namely the determinants of task discretion. At its heart is a parsimonious model which establishes the importance of employee loyalty in determining the amount of task discretion employees experience given employer concerns about workers’ preparedness to shirk. The theory is neatly elaborated and tested with linked employer-employee data in a way which is both compelling and fun to read.”

Professor Chris Heady

The School of Economics welcomes Professor Chris Heady as a new member of staff from 1 April 2009. Chris Heady comes to Kent following a distinguished career as Head of Tax Policy and Statistics at OECD and prior to that as an academic at the University of Bath, University College London and Yale University.

Chris strengthens the commitment of the School to work in areas of international development (including a new MSc programme), environmental economics and public finance. This represents a further investment in the School and follows its success in the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise, and National Student Surveys. The School has seen a rise in undergraduate applications for 2009 entry of over 60% reflecting its continuing consolidation as one of the leading Schools of economics in the UK.

AARES Fellowship Award

Rob Fraser, Professor of Agricultural Economics, has just been created Distinguished Fellow of the Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society (AARES). The award is recognition of a career that has covered academic posts in America, Australia and the UK and included a number of advisory positions such as, most recently, Academic Advisor to the UK Food Standards Agency and to DEFRA, and Consultant Economist to the World Bank on policies affecting world trade.

“I am delighted by the fellowship and am very grateful to AARES for the honour. This means a great deal to me.

Professor Rob Fraser

AARES was founded in 1957 and is an independent association of people and organisations interested in agricultural, resource and environmental economics. It publishes the Australian Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics (AJARE) and has links with approximately 50 research centres across the world.

RAE Results for Economics

75% of research rated internationally excellent

The results of the Research Assessment Exercise have rated research in the School of Economics as follows:

  • 4* 15% (world-leading)
  • 3* 60% (internationally excellent)
  • 2* 25% (internationally recognised)

The weighted GPA (grade-point average) score is 2.9 and on this places the School in the top five Schools at the University of Kent and equal 16th in comparison with all Universities that submitted to the Economics Unit of Assessment.

“This was a very pleasing result with 75% of research graded as internationally excellent or better. Coupled with the recent success in the National Student Survey it clearly places Kent in the top league of economics Schools in the country for both research and teaching.

~ Head of School, Professor Roger Vickerman

More information about the Exercise and full research profiles for each university School can be found on the RAE 2008 website (external link).

National Student Survey 2008 confirms quality of student experience in Economics at Kent

The School of Economics was ranked 8th in the UK for overall quality in the 2008 National Student Survey, with 93% of students registering their satisfaction with the course. Students particularly liked the ability of staff to explain things, efficient assessment arrangements and marking, and the organisation and running of the course.

This is the fourth time running the School has been in the top ten of UK Economics School’s for student satisfaction and reinforces the recent assessment of excellence awarded by the Sunday Times University Guide.

Kent Research on Higher Education is Presented in India

Even though there are many more graduates in the work force than during the 1990s, across Britain the financial returns to a graduate education are holding up. But there are signs of increasing differentiation, with some graduates who do least well getting less of a wae-premium over non-graduates than used to be the case during the 1990s. This was the key finding of research by Professor Francis Green and Dr. Yu Zhu reported to senior academics and policy-makers at a joint meeting of the Indian Council of Social Science Research and Britain’s Economic and Social Research Council in New Delhi on 4th December. According to Professor Green “going to university remains a very good investment, but the premium wage you receive is getting more varied as time goes on. From the financial point of view, choosing the right course and university continues to be important”.

The full paper can be found here.

Major Expansion for Economics

The School of Economics is looking forward to a major expansion with the addition of six new members of staff. The six represent a significant investment in Economics by the University, reflecting rapid growth in student numbers and good National Student Survey results.

The new staff, Professor Robert Fraser, Dr Iain Fraser, Dr Sophia Davidova, Dr Alastair Bailey, Dr Salvatore di Falco and Dr Johannes Sauer were previously staff of Imperial College at Wye. They have an outstanding reputation in agricultural economics, environmental and resource economics and applications to both European agricultural policy and third world development. The Centre for European Agri-Environmental Studies will also transfer to the School.

The arrival of the new staff will enable the School to expand its contribution to postgraduate education in the areas of agri-environmental and development economics both in Canterbury and at the University of Kent’s Brussels campus.

New programmes are being planned that will add to the School’s existing highly successful suite of MSc and PhD programmes, which have recruited at high levels in recent years.

Private returns to studying economics

Dr Yu Zhu has recently been commissioned by the Economics Network of the Higher Education Academy to update statistics about earnings premia for various degree subjects from an earlier School for Education and Skills (DfES) Research Report, “The Return to Education Evidence from the Labour Force Survey” (Ian Walker and Yu Zhu, 2001).

The study uses data drawn from the UK Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) between 1994 and 2006 to compare the earnings of all employees in England and Wales aged between 25-59 who have a first (bachelor) degree together with those that left school with at least two Advanced-level qualifications (the minimum qualifications required for admission to a UK university).

The sample contains over 60,000 individuals, of which almost 900 are economists. The private returns to each degree subject are calculated as the average percentage premium that graduates earned over those employees without a degree but with at least two or more A-levels.

The graph below summaries the main findings and reveals that economics graduates enjoy the highest earnings premia among all graduates, at 42% for men and 68% for women respectively. This research builds upon previous research using the 1993-1999 QLFS and indicates that economists skills continue to be valued highly in the work place.

earnings premia by subjects

New research on independent schools – their effects on teacher supply and the returns to private education

Independent schools in Britain employ a disproportionate share of teachers relative to the number of pupils they educate, and the gap between the independent and state sectors has been increasing. What’s more, independent school teachers are more likely than state school teachers to possess postgraduate qualifications, and to be specialists in subjects – such as Maths and Science – where there are shortages of teachers.

These are among the findings of a new study by Professors Francis Green, University of Kent, and Stephen Machin, Centre for Economic Performance, and colleagues. In a related study, they find that not only do independent school pupils enjoy facilities that are usually far better than those available in state schools, but these pupils also benefit through improved pay later in life. These financial returns are broadly comparable to the returns on other capital.

There is surprisingly little research on the impact of independent schools on the economy in general and the education sector in particular. In the first of these two studies, the researchers analyse the role of independent schools in the teachers’ labour market, notably their impact on the supply of teachers to the state sector. They find that:

  • As higher skills have become more important for economic success in modern societies, there has been a significant rise in the demand for education. In Britain, demand has particularly increased among wealthier families, many of whom choose independent, fee-paying schools. The consequence has been a rising demand for teachers to staff the independent schools.
  • Independent schools more than doubled their fees in real terms over the two decades following the 1980s, and used the increased resources to lower the pupil-teacher ratio and to invest in facilities. Given that pupil-teacher ratios in state schools changed little over this time, the independent schools increased their share of the stock of teachers to approximately 14 per cent by 2004, while still educating less than 8% of the nations’ pupils.
  • Along with taking a disproportionate and increasing share of teachers, independent schools also employ, on average, somewhat better qualified teachers (as measured by the possession of postgraduate qualifications), and are able to recruit a significantly greater share of shortage-subject teachers than can the state sector.
  • The flows into the independent sector of both newly qualified and experienced teachers, the latter trained at the state’s expense, constitute a small though increasing deduction from the supply of new teachers available to state schools.
  • Independent school teachers work with fewer pupils and enjoy longer holidays and, in the case of women, shorter weekly hours. The level of job satisfaction over hours and the work itself was higher in independent schools in the early to mid-1990s, but there is evidence of some convergence in job satisfaction since then.
  • During the 1990s, women teachers received a pay penalty for working in the independent sector – this was likely to be a ‘compensating differential’ for the experience of better working conditions. For men, there is no significant difference in pay. But for both men and women there is evidence of a substantial pay premium for independent school teachers trained in shortage subjects.

The researchers conclude that the increased resources flowing to independent schools have undoubtedly raised the quality of the education they provide. In their second study, they find that:

  • On average those paying for private education in the 1970s and beyond were getting good value for their money. Not only have independent school pupils enjoyed facilities normally far better than those available in state schools, but these pupils have also benefited through improved pay later in life. Around the average, the benefits were greater for some than for others, but the fees also varied.
  • It is also apparent that the chief means of delivering the labour market return is through the better academic qualifications that are delivered by independent schools using their rising resources.
  • If academic achievements are, therefore, to be a target for government policy, emulation of the independent schools would appear to be a policy worth considering. Nevertheless the exclusiveness of the independent schools is shown by the fact that the sector has not expanded beyond its roughly 8 per cent of the total pupil base for many decades.

Professor Francis Green comments: ‘Our findings imply that the rising importance of independent schools needs to be given more serious attention by educational policy-makers – not just as a model for the improvement of state schools but as a significant player in the market for scarce teaching resources.