Brownbag Lunch Workshop: Shin Kanaya, Aarhus University

Title: Are University Admissions Academically Fair?

Info about event


Friday 15 February 2013,  at 12:15 - 13:00


Fuglesangs Allé 4, 8210 Aarhus V, building 2621(B), room 04


Marianne Simonsen

Speaker: Shin Kanaya, Aarhus University

Title: Are University Admissions Academically Fair? (joint with Debopam Bhattacharya & Margaret Stevens)

Selective universities are often accused of unfair admission practices which favour applicants from specific socioeconomic groups. We develop an empirical framework for testing whether such admissions are academically fair, i.e., they admit students with the highest academic potential. If so, then the expected performance of the marginal admitted candidates -- the admission-threshold -- should be equalized across socioeconomic groups. We show that such thresholds are nonparametrically identified from standard admissions data if unobserved officer-heterogeneity affecting admission decisions is median-independent of applicant covariates and the density of past-admits' conditional expected performance is positive around the admission-threshold for each socioeconomic group. Applying these methods to admissions-data for a large undergraduate programme at Oxford and using blindly-marked, first-year exam-performance as the outcome of interest, we find that the admission-threshold is about 3.7 percentage-points (0.6 standard-deviations) higher for males than females and about 1.7 percentage-points (0.3 standard-deviations) higher for private-school than state-school applicants. In contrast, average admission-rates are equal across gender and school-type, both before and after controlling for applicants' background characteristics.

Organizer: Marianne Simonsen