Higher education

Around half of all young people now go to university. We want to understand how young people make decisions about higher education, its accessibility, and the outcomes for both individuals and society.

Our work in higher education explores young people’s decisions and pathways in their progression from compulsory education into higher education and work. It also examines questions relating to access and short- and longer-term outcomes for people after university.

We want to improve understanding of how some people are disadvantaged in the higher education system, in relation to access, progression and career and earnings outcomes.

We have funded work related to the structure and funding of the higher education system, including the likely impact of different funding models, and effects of changes to fees and loans on individuals and society.

 

Our team


  • Programme Head, Education

  • Director, Education

Our impact in higher education


  • Our research has led to a breakthrough in understanding of the limitations of Higher Education as a driver of social mobility – linking earnings and education for the first time and leading to the development on a new dataset on longitudinal education outcomes. The research was led by Professor Anna Vignoles and Professor Neil Shepherd.

  • Universities all over the world are adopting a new accessible resource for teaching economic principles to students who are not specialising in the subject. Economy, Society and Public Policy enables students to develop analytical tools and data handling skills as they engage with policy problems such as inequality, climate change and wealth creation.

  • The book Family Background and University Success was cited in the Office for Students’ work to deliver its access and participation. functions in support of social mobility. Drawing on several projects we have funded, the book has been influential in the many policy debates about the future of higher education, particularly the impact of the 2006 and 2012 tuition fee increases.

Higher education projects

1 of 2

In progress

Education | 2020 – 2021

Post-16 educational trajectories and social inequalities in political engagement

View project
In progress

Education | 2019 – 2021

Educational choices at 16-19 and adverse outcomes at university

View project
In progress

Education | Welfare | 2018 – 2021

‘First in family’: higher education choices and labour market outcomes

View project
In progress

Education | Welfare | 2018 – 2021

A longer-term investigation of the careers of UK graduates

View project
In progress

Education | 2017 – 2020

Why have universities transformed their staffing practices?

View project
In progress

Education | Welfare | 2017 – 2020

Fair admission to universities in England: improving policy & practice

View project
Reported

Education | Welfare | 2017 – 2019

Undermatch in higher education: prevalence, drivers and outcomes

View project
Reported

Education | 2017 – 2020

Economy, Society, and Public Policy: An introduction to economics and quantitative social science

View project
Reported

Education | 2015 – 2019

Understanding success: Expectations, heterogeneity, and inputs in higher education

View project
Reported

Education | 2015 – 2019

Information, expectations and transition to higher education

View project
Reported

Education | 2014 – 2017

Education, behaviour and policy

View project
Reported

Education | Welfare | 2013 – 2015

Estimating the human capital of graduates

View project

Latest in higher education

See all

We aim to improve people’s lives by funding research that informs social policy, primarily in Education, Welfare and Justice. We also fund student programmes that give young people skills and confidence in science and research.

We are an open, collaborative and engaged funder that offers more than money. Through connecting the individual projects we fund, we strengthen their collective impact and give voice to an overarching narrative.

Profile