Studies in Higher Education

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Economics: an elite subject for elite universities?

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Article

Studies in Higher Education CSHE-2012-0086

economics programmes, retention and withdrawal, new and old universities, research activity, widening access

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Economics: an elite subject for elite universities?
Abstract

The decline in the number of universities offering programmes in subjects such as chemistry, physics, mathematics, modern languages and history in the universities of the United Kingdom has been well documented. It now appears that economics programmes, both in the UK and in other parts of the world, may be going through a similar process. The paper explores the changes in the provision of economics programmes in the UK by reviewing the current state of provision and charting how it has changed in the last ten or so years. Differences between pre-1992 and post-1992 universities, research performance and geographical location in the decision to withdraw economics programmes are examined. Research activity does not explain why new universities have retained or withdrawn economics programmes. The study reports the results of a survey to reveal a complex picture with economics provision affected by a number of internal and external factors.

Key words

Economics programmes, retention and withdrawal, ‘new’ and ‘old’ universities, research

activity, widening access

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1. Introduction

The initial spur for the paper was informal discussions and anecdotal evidence that seemed to suggest that economics provision in the post-1992 (‘new’) UK universities has been in decline over the last few years. Our initial speculation on the description and explanation for any decline centred on a number of themes and this section of the paper looks to set briefly these themes within the context of the literature. Firstly, and most importantly for this paper, we speculate that the division between pre- and post-1992 institutions +may have been pivotal to any recent decline in economics undergraduate provision. Secondly, was the concern that perhaps the wider role of economics within society has in recent times been diminished and this as a result has reduced the demand for economics programmes. Finally, we consider the trends in a number of nations, particularly those sharing UK traditions. Thus, while the paper is diagnostic in nature, we use these three themes as a means of setting our results in context.

The UK Higher Education Statistics Authority (HESA) statistics show that the total number of students studying at the UK’s universities increased by 13.4 per cent from 2,200,175 to 2,493,415, between 2003/4 and 2009/10. It is against this background of rising student numbers that the performance of economics programmes has to be assessed. Based on data supplied by UCAS, the total number of individual applicants for single economics degrees in the UK rose from 11,699 in 2003 to 14,851 in 2010, having fallen to a low of 11,041 in 2006. Likewise, the total number of offers accepted by applicants fell from 4,043 in 2003 to 3,894 in 2006, increasing to 5,486 in 2010, an increase of 36 per cent over the period. The most rapid increase in the number of offers accepted has come not from domestic students where the increase was still a healthy 26 per cent rise over the period 2003-2010 but from EU and overseas students where the increases were 335 per cent and 50 per cent respectively.1 It would appear that interest is studying for an economics qualification seems to have grown markedly between 2007 and 2008, after a short period of gradual decline between 2003 and 2006. Moreover, this upward trend continued through to 2010, when the rate of growth slowed. Notwithstanding the strong performance of the subject as a whole, a growing sense of disquiet among the economics community regarding the future of the subject seems to be discernible. It is an anxiety that stems from, among other things, concern over the safety of 2

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the subject’s place in the UK higher education curriculum, and it seems to be especially pronounced in the new universities of the UK2. The statistics presented above suggest it is not the result of rapid deterioration in the subject’s standing but has been in the background at a low level for some time. Nor, it seems, is it peculiar to the UK. Almost fifteen years ago, Millmow (1997) for example, stated in relation to the health of economics in the Australia HE sector that: ‘university economics is, as it were, in the decline stage of the product life cycle: economics major enrolments continue to decline and the forward indicators – secondary school enrolments and expressions of interest in doing economics are not heartening’.

By reviewing the current state of provision and identifying those universities that have withdrawn the subject and comparing this group to those that have retained the subject, we hope to offer some insights into where the subject is, what has gone wrong and where it might go in the future. The indicator of the current state of provision used here differs from that in some other studies such as Siegfried and Round (2001) and Skoorka and Condon (2003) where the focus is on the number of undergraduate economics degrees awarded. Here the focus is on the economics programmes offered in UK universities, charting the changes to the institutions offering single economics degree programmes with special emphasis on whether they are old or new universities and where they are located. Section 2 of this paper presents a short review of the literature of the international context of the study and on the broader role of economics programmes. Section 3 sets out one possible framework on which to make the decision on whether to withdraw, add or retain a degree title to the portfolio. Section 4 provides some basic information on the current state of provision in the UK Higher Education (HE) sector. After completing our review of the current state of play, Section 5 reports on how provision has changed since 2003. In Section 6 the implications of some interesting case studies are assessed. Finally, in Section 7 we consider what lessons can be learned from the study and suggest avenues for future research.

2. Literature review

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but results on the number of undergraduate economics degrees awarded will not be available until after 2011. Canada. there is every reason to question whether the UK and other countries have followed a similar trend over the period. Siegfried (2011) reports increased numbers of economics degrees awarded in the US over the period 1991-2010. Skoorka and Condon (2003) in their study of economics undergraduate degrees awarded in 20 New Jersey colleges over the period 1979 to 2000 found that business cycle conditions. In contrast. Siegfried and Round’s (2001) study of economics degree trends in the 1990s showed that Australia. such substitution possibilities were cited by heads of UK economics departments as part of the explanation for the apparent reduced popularity of economics degree programmes (Machin 4 rP Fo URL: http://mc. Germany and the United States suffered a decline in the number of undergraduate economics degrees awarded between 1992 and 1996 followed by a small recovery. It is but a hypothesis and in the same vein the world financial crisis may have a similar effect in stimulating interest in taking undergraduate economics programmes. and. The finding that business cycle conditions affect the trend is in contrast to previous studies but is not unexpected. a number of studies have addressed the changing role of economics in higher education. in the UK. given the HESA.Studies in Higher Education Page 4 of 39 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 Internationally. Within this period there have been times when numbers were rising quickly (for example. Ashworth and Evans (2000) note a fifty percent fall in the numbers taking A-level Economics over the fifteen year period leading up to their study. There were big rises in 2009 and 2010 which Siegfried attributes to the massive interest in Levitt and Dubner’s very popular book Freakonomics which was first published in 2005. Indeed. 1997-2004 and 2008-09) and others when they have been flat (2005-07). For example. Over the three years following the publication of the book the number of undergraduate economics degrees awarded in the US rose by 16 percent while the total number of all undergraduate degrees awarded rose by just 8 percent. UCAS and other evidence. Possible explanations for the changes include the number of economics degrees following changes in the overall number of degrees awarded. changes in the ‘academic price’ of an economics degree. demographic trends and the desire to move on to postgraduate professional schools explained about 75% of the variation in economics degrees awarded.com/cshe ee rR ev ie w On ly . While these trends are encouraging for the US. Hurd. which might be consistent with the notion that the two subjects are close substitutes for one another. Coates and Anderton (1997) highlight a corresponding increase in the popularity of Business Studies through the 1990s.manuscriptcentral. more women students in the overall student population leading to fewer students taking economics since the proportion of women taking economics is lower than that in men.

5 rP Fo URL: http://mc. One of the outcomes from our paper is to revisit the taxonomy of economics provision and to clarify some of the increasingly muddied waters. For instance.Page 5 of 39 Studies in Higher Education 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 and Oswald 2000). One reason for this may be that the subject is considered more difficult than some that have emerged in the last twenty to thirty years. The jurisdictional prerogatives reflect the different national economics traditions such as historical economics in Germany and analytical economics in the UK. As Fourcade-Gourinchas (2001) puts it ‘The extensive jurisdictional prerogatives of economists thus seem to be legitimated be the fact that their discipline constitutes undoubtedly the most well-bounded and organised scholarly enterprise in the social scientific field’. One of these themes is the emergence of subject differences in the old and new universities which leads to new universities having a different portfolio of degree programmes. If economics has lost its preeminence among the social sciences this raises questions about its role in society and particularly its value as a universalistic paradigm based on scientific knowledge. A decline would suggest that economics has somehow lost some of its legitimacy for society. In a wide ranging and analytical paper on the nature of the academic profession in the UK and its failure to change with the realities of mass education and financial stringency. At a fundamental level. the literature suggests that the picture is altogether more complex. the US experience shows that a decline in economics is actually an increase by other means so that for example economics has found a new home in the rise in business studies as a main subject (Georgiou 2007). In addition.manuscriptcentral. Reilly and Bachan (2005) consider the notion that economics is more ‘difficult’ than subjects such as Business Studies and echo the earlier conclusion of Ashworth and Evans (2000) that economists may be ‘grading students away from the subject’ and students and university management are correct to move into Business Studies if their aim is to achieve higher grades.com/cshe ee rR ev ie w On ly . The second area of concern was that there may have been realignment in society’s view of economics as a useful subject. a legitimacy that springs from being able to provide a clear and coherent set of fundamental principles and body of knowledge that makes economics the most scholarly of the social sciences. raising the issue of changes in economics provision invokes an examination of the rise of the subject as the pre-eminent social science and its subsequent spread across the world. Tight (2011) shows that the picture has become even more complicated due to the number of institutions able to perform the functions of a university in the UK having grown significantly in recent years. However. Shattock (2001) identifies a set of drivers that have resulted in the emergence of a number of key of themes in UK academia.

As UK society and economy changes. students and league table rankings.com/cshe ee rR ev 6 ie w On ly . Our third area of concern was the idea of some long-term secular decline. then this also suggests that questions regarding the role of economics have been around for some time. cross-national perspective. Interestingly. Concern regarding the possible decline in economics provision is not new and has been raised in the Anglo-Saxon world for some years as seen by trends in the US (Skoorka and Condon 2003. This may not be a surprise given that previous research (Roll 1973) has shown the importance of national characteristics and imperatives to the subject’s development and how it is able to position itself within society. The next section looks at issues surrounding the decision to withdraw economics programmes. we find support for our concern that wider forces are at work in the changes in economics provision. For example in the past the British approach to the subject tended to view economics as more of an academic (even amateur) pursuit and less overtly political than the European approach. anecdotal evidence suggests that students are now more interested in economics as a result of the recent financial crisis and looking to the subject for answers rather than to apportion blame. Again. 3.manuscriptcentral. it should not be a surprise that the relationship between economics and society also changes and so too. the extent to which an institution’s existing suite of programmes represents an efficient use of its scarce resources is an important question. Thus. pre-dating the recent financial crisis and any failure on the part of economics to prevent the crisis or even to predict what was to come. To offer or not to offer economics programmes? As they attempt to compete with each other for funds.Studies in Higher Education Page 6 of 39 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 The nature of any decline inevitably raises questions about the standing of the extensive jurisdictional prerogatives of economists and whether the nature of the subject’s relationship with the wider UK economy has changed. rP Fo URL: http://mc. Siegfried 2011) and Australia (Alauddin and Butler 2004). the concern over the health of economics is not unique to the UK and we need to set any analysis of the UK experience in a longer term. jurisdictional prerogatives. and if the nature of any decline has been long-term.

Likewise. Column 1/row 2 is largely ignored in what follows as it is expected that universities introducing an economics title in 2012 for the first time (column/row 2) would be rare. It is also important to stress that some of the changes are cosmetic and the result of repackaging: a university may stop offering ‘Financial Economics’ but initiate a programme in ‘Money. we compare those universities that currently offer economics programmes with those that do not (columns one and three of row one in Table 1). Identifying the UK HE sector and outlining the current state of play Settling on a working list of UK universities is not straightforward. 4.com/cshe ee rR ev ie w On ly . used to offer Applied Economics and no longer does so will not be recorded as having withdrawn the subject. some failures. a few name changes and institutions which straddle the HE/FE divide and it quickly becomes obvious that defining the university sector in the UK at any particular point in time requires the adoption of some simplifying assumptions. Add in some mergers. there are 7 rP Fo URL: http://mc. It was decided that the basis for this study would be the Guardian University League Table list for 2012. for example. Even within this group. some of which continue to offer economics programmes. A university which. to identify any obvious differences between universities that do and do not currently offer economics. Likewise. however. the UK HE scene is briefly sketched. we identify differences between those that no longer offer economics programmes but did at some point in the recent past (withdrawers (column 3/row 2) and those that offered programmes in the past and continue to do so (retainers (column 2/ row 2))3. there are private institutions. international universities with campuses in the UK. those universities that did not previously offer economics and continue not to do so (column 4/row 2) are also not discussed in great depth. This survey includes performance evaluations for publicly-funded UK higher education institutions and is based on Higher Education Statistical Authority data. for example. Second. Insert Table 1 here First. It should also be noted that our focus on economics as it is defined below means many of the changes in economics provision that have taken place will be missed by our study. To put the paper in its broader context. Banking and Finance’. There are.manuscriptcentral.Page 7 of 39 Studies in Higher Education 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 To interpret the current state of economics provision in the UK HE sector it is useful to consider Table 1.

Coventry. Of those universities providing a single degree in Economics. unlike the other two key titles. The Open University. listed in Table 2 (Appendix) is then compared with the UCAS website to identify which offered single economics degrees through UCAS for entry in 2012. Financial Economics. Similarly.4 Regarding exit awards where economics is combined with another subject or subjects. economics modules may also be provided as optional elements in degree programmes not leading to an economics exit award. It is common for the subject to be a core part of the foundation year of Business School and Social Science programmes. either as an ‘and’ or ‘with’. Economics. It is noteworthy but perhaps to be expected that there is a significant element of overlap in relation to course provision. Business Economics and Financial Economics were by far the most common titles on offer in 2012. for example. Five universities (Bradford. which was available at around half (58 or 49 per cent) of the 119 universities examined. the range and diversity of exit awards is striking. This resultant list of 119 universities. all those universities offering a degree in Financial Economics (available at 11 universities) also offered a programme in either Economics or Business Economics. 4. Beyond entry level. 4. perhaps not surprisingly. 66 universities (55 per cent) in 8 rP Fo URL: http://mc. 27 also made a single programme in Business Economics available to prospective students. is an important feature of the UK HE landscape but does not feature in the list. It reveals that Economics. Kingston.Studies in Higher Education Page 8 of 39 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 problems with the data.com/cshe ee rR ev ie w On ly .1 The current state of provision of economics programmes in the UK HE sector Economics enters into HE in various ways.manuscriptcentral. did not stand alone and seemed to complement the other two.2 What economics programmes do UK universities provide? Table 3 and Table 4 (Appendix) present some basic frequencies on the economics titles offered by UK universities. Business Economics and Financial Economics. for example. Next in importance was the Business Economics title that was provided by 35 (29 per cent) institutions. UCAS lists a total of 1268 (1273 in 2011) economics titles that are open for applications in 2012. The most frequently occurring single exit title offered by UK universities in 2012 was. ranging from ‘Economics and Neuroscience’ and ‘Economics (Applied) with Creative Writing’ to ‘Dance and Economics’ and ‘Economics with Fine Art and Painting’5. Plymouth and Swansea) offered exit titles in all three: Economics.

Insert Table 3 Rather than attempt to investigate what has been happening to economics provision in its entirety. Table 4 (Appendix) shows that three-quarters of those universities offering single programmes in Economics. economics exit titles of any sort have been almost entirely removed from the prospectuses of the new university sector.3 New and old universities and economics programmes Analysis of the data suggests that economics is significantly healthier in old new universities and that the difference is striking. Business Economics and Financial Economics6. the best predictor of whether a university offers an economics title is almost certainly whether it is old or new. The data set includes 65 new and 54 old universities. in parts of the UK. the focus of this paper is very much on the position as it relates to single exit awards in Economics. Though not offered by all universities. as we will discover below. they are more likely to offer more than one single exit title award than their traditional university counterparts: three new universities .manuscriptcentral. such as Scotland. it is pleasing and reassuring to report that finding old universities not offering an economics 9 rP Fo URL: http://mc. in contrast. Old universities are more likely to offer ‘Economics’. it is encouraging to note that when new universities do provide economics programmes.Page 9 of 39 Studies in Higher Education 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 our sample offered single Economics.com/cshe ee rR ev ie w On ly . In a more positive vein. Indeed. Kingston and Plymouth. 4. It is stressed. the subject is offered by the majority of the UK HE sector. that in the discussion that follows references to economics programmes refer to these three single titles unless otherwise specified. new universities ‘Business Economics’. it is acknowledged that there are clear limitations with this approach and that these have to be borne in mind when trying to understand what follows. The rationale for the decision to limit the study in this way is a belief that the provision of one of these titles is likely to be a good indicator of the existence of a healthy economics group in the institution concerned. It also makes the task of trying to draw lessons from enormous range of options contained in the data less onerous. Business Economics and Financial Economics.Coventry. In contrast. Business Economics or Financial Economics. Table 5 shows that three quarters of new universities did not offer an economics exit award in 2012. only one of the old universities offered all three titles. From the point of view of academic economists. Business Economics or Financial Economics were old universities. However.offer single honours in Economics. Indeed. therefore.

The Column 2 of Table 5 (Appendix) shows that almost all of the universities.Studies in Higher Education Page 10 of 39 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 award title is a much less straightforward task. 4. an obvious reason for a university to decide to withdraw its economics programme is a low research underpinning in the subject and we would expect the presence of a strong research base to be closely associated with the retention of an economics programme. not entered into the Economics and Econometrics UoA at the last RAE but offering an economics programmes through UCAS in 2012 had a Business and Management UoA entry.manuscriptcentral. different Units of Assessment and economics programmes It is important to note that research done by economists may be entered into alternative units of assessment.5 Economics research. Both findings imply that new universities are significantly more likely than their older counterparts to offer an economics degree award without having a research score in the subject. although there do appear to be one or two cases. In this respect it is interesting to consider Table 5 (Appendix) which shows the average research score in Economics and Econometrics unit of assessment (UoA) as calculated by the Guardian. Of the 66 universities identified as offering an economics programme. In contrast. almost all of the universities with a research score. with the most obvious being ‘Business and Management’ and ‘Accounting and Finance’. as evidenced by an RAE submission in the subject.4 The Research Assessment Exercise and the provision of economics programmes As well as weak student demand. Unsurprisingly. in the Economics and Econometrics UoA in the 2008 RAE offered a single honours Economics undergraduate degree. This observation would seem to be consistent with the possibility that research output by economists has been allocated to the 10 rP Fo URL: http://mc. for their survival. 4. only three of the eighteen new universities which were identified as offering an Economics degree in 2012 . London and Manchester Metropolitan had an economics entry in the 2008 RAE.Kingston. only one half (33 or 50 per cent) actually had an economics entry in the 2008 RAE. irrespective of how high or low it was and whether they were old or new.com/cshe ee rR ev ie w On ly . It would appear that economics programmes do not depend on narrowly defined economics and econometrics research. irrespective of whether they were new or old.

4.manuscriptcentral. Both of these proportions are high relative to the Economics and Econometrics UoA where only three of the 35 submissions (9 per cent) were from new universities. which claims to bring ‘together nineteen internationally renowned. 11 out of 23 members (which included three old universities) offered an economics degree. an outstanding teaching and learning experience and unrivalled links with business and the public sector. for whatever reason.com/cshe ee rR ev ie w On ly . When compared to the economics and econometrics submissions.6 University alliances and economic provision A noteworthy facet of the UK HE landscape in recent years has been the emergence of various university alliances. which describes itself as ‘a group of 23 major. Similarly. Within these groups there are pronounced differences in the importance of economics. it is noteworthy that of the 89 entries in the Business and Management UoA in the 2008 RAE. Both of these groupings are dominated by old universities and so it is not surprising that almost all offer economics programmes. not produced research that has been deemed by management to be best placed in a straight economics submission. 6 (43 per cent) were new universities. It would appear that economists working at new universities have.Page 11 of 39 Studies in Higher Education 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 Business and Management UoA. business-engaged universities committed to delivering world-class research and a quality student experience around the UK’. Similarly. 37 (42 per cent) were new universities. presumably in the expectation of higher returns in the form of research scores and income for the institution concerned. which describes itself as representing ‘leading UK universities which are committed to maintaining the very best research.’ offered an economics title. this change in priorities should not come as a surprise to economists and may be an illustration of how national research evaluations have influenced the behaviour of UK universities. A consequence of the higher research returns is that resources previously tied up in these activities have been redirected to other areas such as Business and Management and Accounting and Finance: these groups have grown while economics groups have shrunk. of the fourteen submissions in the Accounting and Finance UoA in 2008. 18 of the 20 member Russell group. Given the incentive structure universities face. Of the ‘University Alliance’ group. university management in the new universities it seems have largely given up attempting to engage in head-to-head competition with the old universities in economics research. with nine out of the 18 new universities 11 rP Fo URL: http://mc. As competition for high RAE ratings has intensified. research-intensive universities’ did not offer an economics title. only two of the 19 in the ‘1994’ group of universities.

perhaps allowing it to persist for longer than might otherwise be the case. Those new universities currently staffed for historical reasons with a large number of long-tenure economists may have been able to take steps to protect the subject against internal and external pressures.com/cshe ee rR ev ie w On ly . Nonetheless. are. which in its mission statement suggests it seeks to enable ‘people from every walk of life to benefit from access to universities that excel in teaching. such groups may fracture. for reasons to do with internal dynamics. in the long-run. Many of the new universities currently offering the subject appear to be located in the Greater London area or on the South Coast. Former polytechnics. From Tables 6 and 7 it appears there may be something of a north-south divide in economics provision. This is recognised as a possibility but to answer this question properly requires a study into the career make-up of the retainers and how this compares with the withdrawers. without being replaced. In the short-run. probably more likely currently to offer economics programmes than smaller universities without this background. something which is outside the scope of the current review.7 New universities with and without economics: do they differ? It is clear that the threat to economics groups is at its greatest in the new universities and it is on this group that we focus in what follows. only eight of the 27 members of the ‘million plus’ group of universities. The subject may be allowed to wither on the vine before eventually being removed. it may well be that there is something about an institution’s history that explains its current relationship with economics.manuscriptcentral. In contrast. research and knowledge transfer’. they tend to be city universities. as economists retire or leave for other reasons.Studies in Higher Education Page 12 of 39 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 continuing to offer economics being affiliated to this group. a strong economics representation in a faculty or university management structure more generally may result in a more sympathetic approach being taken to the subject. there is little difference between all in terms of years as an institution with university status. One reason for this is that the history of the institution has influenced the composition of its workforce. Insert Table 6 12 rP Fo URL: http://mc. offered economics programmes. especially those which replicated the more traditional university model. Of those located elsewhere in the UK. However. 4. As all new universities by definition gained university status from 1992.

5. it is important stress the need to distinguish between universities that for various reasons have never offered an economics programme and those where it was previously withdrawn. All but two of the withdrawers were new universities. and if it is. In addition. Nonetheless. How the provision of economics programmes has changed since 2003 Until now. there is evidence that middle class students prefer economics and working class students Business Studies (Office for Fair Access 2012). some subjects will be more popular. On the other hand. To plug this gap in the study. UCAS data with a time-series element are used to identify those universities that have withdrawn or added the subject to their portfolios in between 2004 and 20127. Just as some universities will be more attractive to students than others. just because a university has removed an economics title from its offering does not mean it has withdrawn from the subject completely: UEL. More of a concern is that of those which have removed an economics title. This may be correlated with the geographical locations of institutions. To the extent this is the case.com/cshe . for example. Though useful as a diagnostic. Business 13 ly URL: http://mc. Imperial College. the more viable programmes will be. for example. the University of Salford is an example of an old university that once did offer single economics titles but does so no rP Fo ee rR ev ie w On longer. this offers little insight into whether the subject’s health is or is not changing. have removed a single Economics title but does still retain a single Business Economics title.Page 13 of 39 Studies in Higher Education 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 Insert Table 7 The higher is the ratio of student applications to available places. presumably reflecting its science ethos. we would expect universities that have a more middle class intake to be more likely to continue to offer the subject. we have discussed the current state of play. Business Economics and Financial Economics since 2003.manuscriptcentral. Moreover. how it is changing. Before considering the data in more detail. Table 8 shows that sixteen universities have removed at least one of their single degree titles in Economics. does not appear to offer an undergraduate economics programmes through UCAS in 2012. only four continued to offer a single title in Economics.

However. As there are currently only 18 new universities currently providing a route for students to a single economics title. another important change in the HE sector. 13 new universities have effectively removed the possibility of studying for a single economics title from their students. is a measure of the entrance qualifications held by the average student and although the difference is not particularly pronounced. Interpreting these simple statistics is problematic. Insert Table 10 Putting these issues to the side for a moment. with the result that this process will narrow the gap between those that do provide economic programmes and those that do not.com/cshe ee rR ev ie w On ly . Is it that universities that drop economics are struggling to attract well-qualified students and by dropping these subjects the average qualification of the student intake is increased? By dropping the subject. In the wake of increases in tuition fees and the increased need on the part of prospective students 14 rP Fo URL: http://mc. Over a nine year period.Studies in Higher Education Page 14 of 39 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 Economics or Financial Economics. Insert Table 8 The old universities until now seem to be largely immune from the withdrawal of economics titles. the picture among the new universities is very different and is a genuine cause for concern. Once again it seems that students studying at the withdrawers are more likely to have found employment soon after graduating. Row 2 is a measure of the percentage of graduates in a job six months after graduating. Removing economics if it were only attractive to poorly qualified students will boost league table ranking and narrow the gap with those for whom economics is a source of highly-qualified applicants. for example. It is undoubtedly the case that these decisions are at least partly driven by league tables. The first row. the university may boost its average entrance qualifications. Insert Table 9 Table 10 provides some simple comparisons between the new universities that have retained economics title(s) and those that have withdrawn them. entrants at the new universities that have dropped the subject appear to have slightly higher qualifications than those that have continued to offer it. it is probably not too pessimistic to conclude that given the high attrition rate in a relatively short period of time that the future does not look terribly bright for economics in the new universities (Table 9).manuscriptcentral. It seems that when a university makes a decision to get out a subject area it tends to do so completely.

Unlike the restrictive definition that we have used above this measure includes all of the major/minors and other combinations and offers a more sanguine picture of the current state of play for the subject in the UK HE sector. while others are very low. Finally. Table 11 gives a hint as to what has been happening more generally to economics in the UK HE sector. if anything. Rather. Nonetheless.Page 15 of 39 Studies in Higher Education 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 to select courses that enable graduates to find employment this is not an encouraging finding. staffstudent ratios etc. If this is added to the more general economics teaching that takes place within universities and the economics material that has no doubt been repackaged. Universities as they compete are clearly making strategic decisions about what subject areas they want to offer and what they would rather not offer and this reshaping of portfolios has meant many of the new universities have now effectively withdrawn the subject. This table reports the number of UK HE institutions offering programmes with an economics element. Row 3 shows that if anything. The overall score contains a range of factors including measures of student satisfaction. it would clearly be wrong to write off economics as a subject just yet. it is the reverse and it may be the case that new universities that retain the subject pay a price in the form of lower performance indicators. How this plays out in the future will be interesting to watch. Whether it is a trend that will intensify as the competition between universities increases and to the extent that this is the case whether it means the subject is destined to one which is studied and researched by a small number of elite students at elite universities remains to be seen. the average overall Guardian ranking for each group is calculated and yet again the withdrawers are found a little higher up the league tables than the retainers. recent events would appear to have given a something of a fillip to the subject. with a slight increase in the numbers offering the subject after 2008. It is not obvious from this that withdrawers are performing less well than retainers. it would also be complacent not to acknowledge that there is a issue.com/cshe ee rR ev 15 ie w On ly . It is encouraging that the vast majority of universities do still offer some sort of economics exit title. something which is supported by the UCAS data discussed in the introduction. the withdrawers also have slightly stronger research levels though it should be emphasised that these averages mask a lot of variation and that some of the research scores among the retainers are very high. Insert Table 11 rP Fo URL: http://mc. Finally. Indeed.manuscriptcentral. It may be that potential students take the view that unlike more vocational disciplines such as marketing and accounting the study of economics is not viewed as a good human capital investment.

Studies in Higher Education Page 16 of 39 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 6. this was by its very nature very much an exploratory survey and the results are only a guide to what we might find in a fuller survey. A thematic analysis identifying themes and patterns in the interviews was used to analyse the results. All economics groups were part of their respective business school but in the two withdrawers economics had previously been a separate unit not in the 16 rP Fo URL: http://mc. For this reason they should not be seen as representing all the retainers or all the withdrawers because clearly each institution has undergone different experiences and the economists in the four institutions surveyed had very different stories to tell. (Braun and Clarke 2006) 6. We started by selecting at random two institutions from each of the categories and contacted an economist by phone or email and fortunately each was prepared to be interviewed. We guaranteed them anonymity so that neither they nor their institution would be identified.1 Results There were a number of features common to economics groups in all four institutions and some significant differences. Conducted in July and August 2011. The interviews were not recorded but extensive notes were taken. especially the withdrawal of economics programmes in the new universities. This is not to say that economics programmes are not under threat in some universities in this sector. we conducted a small survey of four new universities. but also ironically. rather that the evidence is that old universities continue to offer them and that numbers of applicants and places have risen in recent years. It was important to build up a picture by allowing interviewees enough time to talk about the origins and changes that has taken place over the years. We decided that since the old universities had by and large retained their economics programmes we would not survey them. The sample consisted of two withdrawers and two retainers (see Table 1). each interview lasting about two hours. the retention of them in some other new universities. The interviews were open ended and conducted at or near to the interviewees’ institution. We started by explaining the reasons for doing the project and that we were interested in the history of economics provision at each institution.com/cshe ee rR ev ie w On ly . Results of the interviews with two retainers and two withdrawers To attempt to explain some of the changes described here.manuscriptcentral.

Economists had also to teach a variety of non-economics modules such as management and enterprise. In the former institution.manuscriptcentral. In both retainers the economists had strong patronage from senior management who had the foresight either to offer active support in one case and passive support in the other. This was reported to have seriously weakened the position of economics and economists in both institutions as much autonomy in decision making had been lost. Table 12 below summarises our interview findings.com/cshe ee rR ev 17 ie w On ly . also in a separate department. economics and economists were seen as a valued and integral part of their respective business school. In both of the withdrawers economics was said to have been run down over a number of years as a specific policy to boost other programmes and despite healthy numbers in many economics modules. economics programmes were withdrawn. In one case it was part of a social science department and in the other it was linked to management. One of the consequences of withdrawing programmes is that modules are also run down. In contrast. In the two retainers it is currently running at over 100. In one institution it was reported that there was a very much an antieconomics feeling among senior staff and in the other that staff from other disciplines actively encouraged students to take any modules other than economics. The demand for economics programmes measured by the number of students being taken into the economics programmes was generally much lower in the withdrawers. at least at the time of withdrawal with both reporting big falls in demand over a number of years.Page 17 of 39 Studies in Higher Education 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 business school. Managers at university and faculty/school-levels in the withdrawers were said to be unsympathetic to economics and were unwilling to incorporate economics in business school core programmes. Economists in the two retainers had made it their aim to be part of the major university committees and to contribute as much as possible to the running of the business school and the wider university. Insert Table 12 here rP Fo URL: http://mc. in the retainers. In one of the institutions the first year intake was down below ten and in the other about 30. In both cases economics had moved into the business school following restructuring. despite the fall in first year intake to economics programmes the number of students taking economics modules actually increased because of more international students admitted to the third year of the economics programme and more demand for economics modules from the social science students. In this way they made themselves into a very important part of school and university management.

manuscriptcentral. it is apparent that economics has been withdrawn from large parts of the new university sector in the UK.com/cshe ee rR ev ie w On ly . Is economics. It was thus inevitable that the retainers would be in the south of the country. If the recent withdrawal rate continues then economics provision will have largely disappeared from the UK’s new universities. Analysis of the data shows that there are now no economics programmes on offer in the new universities north of a line between Preston (Central Lancashire) and Sheffield (Sheffield Hallam) (Figure 1).Studies in Higher Education Page 18 of 39 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 At all four institutions economists were among the most research active in their respective schools/faculties. Insert Figure 1 here The geography of the withdrawers and retainers is interesting. Conclusions and suggestions for future research Though it is pleasing to note that some new universities continue to offer economics titles and that the subject has shown signs of regaining popularity in recent years. will for example large numbers of applicants who have little hope of getting into a top university be excluded from the possibility of studying economics? Is this inequality of access to the study of economics and its implication for economic literacy among the population is something with which we as educators ought to be concerned? If the purpose of widening access to university education is to allow students from poorer backgrounds the chance to study a full range of subjects. then becoming an elite subject for elite universities? If so. The two withdrawers were in the north of Great Britain and the two retainers in the south. 7. like medicine. then subjects like economics should be available at universities where wider access students are likely to be admitted. All four had RAE entries going back to at least 2001. Finance and Accounting and European Studies. The decline of economics in new universities reported here will thus be damaging to such 18 rP Fo URL: http://mc. Economists’ research went into several UoAs including Economics and Econometrics. It is difficult to see how research might have contributed to the withdrawal decision since at the two withdrawers economists had been very productive in research and the same can be said of economists in the two retainers. what are the implications of this. Nonetheless for the retainers it was said that research was important to the success of their economics groups. Six of the withdrawers were below this line and six above it. Business and Management.

Here the emphasis appears to be more to a much greater extent on training people for work rather than providing an education per se.Page 19 of 39 Studies in Higher Education 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 students who find their subject choices limited in the business area to softer subjects (Johnston.manuscriptcentral. The recent criticisms from employer organisations appear to suggest that the new universities are not always being successful in their allotted role. Likewise. Here the recent experience of economics in the US may be of value. Quite why there has been a failure to succeed in economics research when they have had success in other related areas is an interesting and important question. (CBI/NUS) The influence of internal politics as opposed to external market factors on the withdrawal decision is hinted at above but we really need more detailed analysis particularly as the numbers applying for economics courses has recently been increasing.com/cshe ee rR ev 19 ie w On ly . why much of the research done by economists in both old and new universities is not assessed in the Economics and Econometrics UoA is another question worthy of further research. rP Fo URL: http://mc. particularly in the new universities. With increased specialisation in the sector this task of educating students more generally has to a much greater extent been allocated to the old universities. Reeves and Talbot 2012). There are thus serious concerns about the direction of economics and its fate as a viable subject in parts of the UK university system. It would also seem to reflect a change in the nature of higher education.

G. M. Economic Journal 110: F334–49. Economics and business studies – trends in GCE A Level.8. and V. Qualitative Research in Psychology 3: 77-101.manuscriptcentral. PLACE OF PUBLICATION: CBI/NUS. A. Evans. Office for Fair Access (2010). 2007. S. New York: William Morrow.com/cshe ee rR ev 20 ie w On ly . institutional structures. 2000. Division of Economics Working Paper 97. V. Coats and A. E. What more can be done to widen access to highly selective universities? rP Fo URL: http://mc. S. Teaching economics in a changing university environment: Some Australian experience. Levitt. Fourcade-Gourinchas. C. G. Politics. D. Working towards your future: Making the most of your time in higher education.20. Using thematic analysis in psychology. and L. UK economics and the future supply of academic economists. 2005. Machin. 2001.1997. 2001. and A. Braun. International Journal of Social Economics 31: 706 – 720. J. 1997. Oswald. J. To Eke Out a Marginal Existence: Economics in Business Schools. M. Clarke. CBI/NUS Employability Report: 2011. and J. Butler. Georgiou. and the rise of economics: a comparative study. Anderton.. S.Studies in Higher Education Page 20 of 39 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 References Ashworth. Hurd. Theory and Society 30: 397-447. 2006. Millmow. Modelling Student Choice at Secondary and Tertiary Level: A Cross-section Study. Dubner. Demise of the economics major? International Advances in Economic Research 13: 515-6. and S. Economic Papers: Journal of Applied Economics and Policy 16:88-96. Freakonomics. 2004. Journal of Economic Education 32: 311 . University of Staffordshire. Alauddin.

2012). 2011. Skoorka. 2011. Shattock. 2001. Round. Tight. 2001. B. International trends in economics degrees during the 1990s. J. and C. Roll. J. M. Siegfried. 2003. The Journal of Economic Education 32: 203-18. and R. Condon. J. and D. Trends in undergraduate economics degrees. London: Faber and Faber. M. Siegfried. 2005. The Journal of Economic Education 42: 270-4. 1991-2010.2. M.M.049 excluding appendices rP Fo URL: http://mc. E. Higher Education 41: 27–47. How many universities are there in the United Kingdom? How many should there be? Higher Education (accessed online: http://www. The academic profession in Britain: A study in the failure to adapt to change. B. A History of Economic Thought. Trends in US economics majors: why the decline in the 1990s? Atlantic Economic Journal 31: 195-204. A comparison of A-level performance in Economics and Business Studies: how much more difficult is Economics? Education Economics 13: 85-108. Bachan.Page 21 of 39 Studies in Higher Education 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 Reilly.springerlink. K. Number of words 8. 1973.manuscriptcentral. J.com/content/3146w04v65x78605) (Accessed 29.com/cshe ee rR ev 21 ie w On ly .

manuscriptcentral.Studies in Higher Education Page 22 of 39 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 List of tables and figure to be inserted in the text Table 1: Interpreting the current level of economics provision in the UK HE Sector Offered economics programmes in 2012 Did 2012 not Did not offer economics programmes in 2012 economics Did not offer economics 2012 before 2012 offer Offered economics Offered before before 2012 before (Retainers) economics rP Fo (Withdrawers) URL: http://mc.com/cshe ee rR ev ie w On ly 22 .

rP Fo Business 3 URL: http://mc.manuscriptcentral. (Based on UCAS website for UG admissions in 2012) Exit title [1] Number of UK Institutions offering this exit title through UCAS in 2012 Applied Economics Business Economics Development Economics Economics 3 34 1 57 2 1 13* 1 3 Economic History European Economics Financial Economics Industrial Economics International Economics International Economics Land Economy Management Economics Political Economy * Includes Birkbeck College.com/cshe ee 1 1 1 rR ev ie w On ly 23 .Page 23 of 39 Studies in Higher Education 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 Table 3: The range of economics titles offered by UK universities.

rP Fo ee 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 Bournemouth University * University of Northumbria Plymouth University * Lincoln University 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 Edinburgh University of the West of England * University of Central Lancashire * Brighton University Sheffield Hallam University * Huddersfield University Portsmouth University * the University of Winchester Edge Hill University Staffordshire University University of Cumbria Sunderland University The University of Northampton Teesside University The University of Worcester Kingston University * Glyndŵr University Glamorgan University Manchester Metropolitan University * University of Wales.manuscriptcentral. Newport Canterbury Christ Church University Liverpool John Moores University Leeds Metropolitan University University of Westminster * University of Bedfordshire Abertay Dundee University Greenwich University * Middlesex University * Derby University Thames Valley University (now UWL) Anglia Ruskin University * University of Bolton London South Bank University Southampton Solent University University of East London * London Metropolitan* URL: http://mc. of Wales Institute (UWIC). (*Indicates that the institution offered an economics title through UCAS in 2012) 1 2 3 4 5 Robert Gordon University Oxford Brookes University University of Chichester Nottingham Trent University* De Montfort University 34 35 36 37 38 Hertfordshire University * University of Gloucestershire Glasgow Caledonian University Edinburgh Napier University University Cardiff * Queen Margaret University College.com/cshe rR 48 49 50 ev 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 Bath Spa University College York St John University Birmingham City University University of Chester ie Marjon UWS Coventry University * University of Wales Trinity Saint David Roehampton University Bucks New University St.Studies in Higher Education Page 24 of 39 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 Table 6 New Universities and economics exit title in 2012. Mary’s UC Trinity UC UC Falmouth Newman UC Leeds Trinity UC w On ly 24 .

Manchester Metropolitan 11.London Metropolitan 10.East London 6. Westminster of England.Bournemouth 3.Page 25 of 39 Studies in Higher Education 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 Table 7 Economics titles offered by new universities.West Bristol 18.Anglia Ruskin 2.UWIC 17. (from UCAS website for UG admissions in 2012) University Offering through UCAS a single Economics title in 2012 [1] Offering through UCAS a single Business Economics title in 2012 Offering through UCAS a single Financial Economics title in 2012 Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y - 1.Portsmouth 15.Coventry 5.Kingston 9.Plymouth 14. rP Fo URL: http://mc.com/cshe ee Y Y Y Y Y rR ev 25 Y Y Y Y - ie Y Y Y Y Y Y - Y Y - w On Y ly - .Central Lancashire 4.Middlesex 12.Sheffield Hallam 16.manuscriptcentral.Nottingham Trent 13.Hertfordshire 8.Greenwich 7.

Staffordshire University 16.Nottingham Trent University** 12.University of Central England 4.Liverpool John Moores University 9.Salford University 15.manuscriptcentral.University of the West of England** 3.Teeside University *International Business Economics ** These universities still offer a minor or joint exit title in economics.com/cshe ee rR 2005 ev 2009 2004 2004 ie 26 w 2009 2005 On ly .Oxford Brookes University 13.University of East London** 5.University of the West of Scotland 14.Northumbria University 11.University of Liverpool** 8. business economics or financial economics and so have partially rather than completely withdrawn.Glasgow Caledonian University 7.University of Glamorgan 2007 2005 2007 2007 2009 2008 2004 2006 2009 2011 2007 2007* 2003 2006 Financial Economics 6.University of Abertay 2.Edinburgh Napier University 10.Studies in Higher Education Page 26 of 39 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 Table 8: Economics titles withdrawn between 2003 and 2012 University Economics Business Economics 1. rP Fo URL: http://mc.

Glasgow Caledonian University 5.Portsmouth 15.Edinburgh Napier University 7.Coventry Complete Withdrawers 1.Sheffield Hallam 16.Kingston 9.UWIC 17.Anglia Ruskin 2.manuscriptcentral.University of Glamorgan 4.Central Lancashire 4.com/cshe ee 11.Staffordshire University 12.Page 27 of 39 Studies in Higher Education 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 Table 9: New University retainers and complete withdrawers Retainers 1.Northumbria University 8.Nottingham Trent 13.Bournemouth 3. Westminster of rP Fo England.University of Abertay 2.Teeside University rR ev ie w On ly 27 .Salford University URL: http://mc.University of Central England 3.Hertfordshire 8.Liverpool John Moores University 6.East London 6.London Metropolitan 10.Greenwich 7.West Bristol 18.Manchester Metropolitan 11.Plymouth 14.University of the West of Scotland 10.Oxford Brookes University 9.Middlesex 12. 5.

Studies in Higher Education Page 28 of 39 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 Table 10: New university retainers and withdrawers compared Measure Average Entry Tariff Retainers[1] 234 Withdrawers[2] 245 Average Percentage with a job after 6 months Average Research Assessment Rating – Business and Management[3] 55 60 Average Guardian League Table Position [1] Based on Guardian 2011 league Tables [2] Average excludes UWS [3] No entries are treated as a zero. rP Fo 1.00 82 80 URL: http://mc.com/cshe ee rR ev ie w On ly 28 .manuscriptcentral.89 2.

2003 96 2004 93 2005 91 2006 90 2007 93 2008 89 2009 92 2010 91 rP Fo URL: http://mc.Page 29 of 39 Studies in Higher Education 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 Table 11: The number of universities with applications and/or acceptances for programmes containing the word economics in the exit title 2003-2010: data supplied by UCAS.com/cshe ee rR ev ie w On ly 29 .manuscriptcentral.

com/cshe ee School/Faculty/University business rR external income generation ev ie w On ly 30 .manuscriptcentral.Studies in Higher Education Page 30 of 39 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 Table 12: Contrasting experiences of retainers and withdrawers Retainers Withdrawers The demand for economics programmes had The demand for economics programmes had remained healthy fallen considerably over time was once a separate Economics had always been part of a Economics Business School Economics was strongly supported by senior Economics management Economists School/Faculty/University business Economists brought in significant income Economists were less actively engaged in from external activities rP Fo were very section/department lacked support from senior management and was often hindered active in Economists were not very active in URL: http://mc.

Page 31 of 39 Studies in Higher Education 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 Figure 1: The geography of economics provision Above the line there is no economics provision in the new universities.com/cshe ee rR ev ie w On ly 31 . rP Fo URL: http://mc.manuscriptcentral.

manuscriptcentral. Swansea Brunel University Oxford Brookes University ie Goldsmiths College. University of London rP Fo URL: http://mc. Bangor Nottingham Trent University University of Ulster Bradford University De Montfort University Bournemouth University University of Northumbria Plymouth University Lincoln University w On ly 32 . Aberystwyth Essex University Keele University Heriot-Watt University University of Dundee Stirling University Robert Gordon University City University Hull University The University of Durham University College London University of Warwick University of York Lancaster University Edinburgh University Exeter University The University of Bath University of Bristol Leicester University Loughborough University King's College London.Studies in Higher Education Page 32 of 39 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 Appendix Table 2: All of the universities included in this study 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 Oxford University ** Cambridge University Imperial College of Science. Belfast University of Kent University of Wales. Technology & Medicine University of St Andrews London School of Economics and Political Science 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 University of Surrey Aberdeen University Cardiff University Reading University Queen Mary and Westfield College Strathclyde University Queen's University. University of London University of Chichester University of Wales. University of London The University of Sheffield Southampton University The University of Nottingham Sussex University The University of Birmingham University of East Anglia Glasgow University Newcastle University Leeds University School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) Liverpool University Aston University The University of Manchester Royal Holloway.com/cshe ee rR 46 47 48 ev 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 University of Wales.

manuscriptcentral. Edinburgh University of the West of England University of Central Lancashire Brighton University Sheffield Hallam University Huddersfield University Portsmouth University the University of Winchester Edge Hill University Staffordshire University University of Cumbria Sunderland University Bath Spa University College York St John University Birmingham City University University of Chester Coventry University University of Wales Trinity Saint David Roehampton University Bucks New University St. Newport Canterbury Christ Church University Liverpool John Moores University Leeds Metropolitan University University of Westminster University of Bedfordshire Abertay Dundee University Greenwich University University of Wales Institute.com/cshe ee rR ev 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 116 117 118 119 Middlesex University Derby University Thames Valley University (now UWL) ie UWS* Anglia Ruskin University University of Bolton London South Bank University Southampton Solent University University of East London London Metropolitan UC Falmouth Newman UC Leeds Trinity UC w On ly 33 . Mary’s UC Trinity UC Marjon rP Fo URL: http://mc. Cardiff Queen Margaret University College.Page 33 of 39 Studies in Higher Education 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 113 114 115 Hertfordshire University University of Gloucestershire Glasgow Caledonian University Edinburgh Napier University 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 Salford University The University of Northampton Teesside University The University of Worcester Kingston University Glyndŵr University Glamorgan University Manchester Metropolitan University University of Wales.

Greenwich* 25.Bradford 9.Anglia Ruskin 4.Lancaster 32.Hertfordshire* 27.Kingston 31.Bristol 10.Cardiff 13.Edinburgh 21.Bangor 6.Exeter 23.Hull 28.City 15.East London* 20.Essex 22.Durham 18.Coventry 16.Cambridge 12.East Anglia 19.Central Lancashire* 14.Keele 29.Bournemouth 8.manuscriptcentral.Leeds rP Fo URL: http://mc.Aberdeen Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y a through single title in Offering UCAS a through single Offering through UCAS a [1] Y Y Y Y Y Y Y single Financial Economics Business Economics title in 2012 [1] Y Y Y Y Y Y - Economics title in 2012 2.Aberystwyth 3.Glasgow 24.Studies in Higher Education Page 34 of 39 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 Table 4: The exit titles offered by those universities offering economics titles: (Based on UCAS website for UG admissions in 2012) University Offering UCAS 2012 [1] 1.Bath 5.Dundee 17.Kent 30.Birmingham 7.com/cshe ee rR 34 ev Y - ie Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y w On ly .Brunel 11.Heriot-Watt 26.

Royal Holloway 50.York of England.Nottingham 43.Strathclyde 57.Liverpool 35.Warwick 64.manuscriptcentral.Leicester 34.Loughborough 38.Nottingham Trent* 44.Sussex 59.Page 35 of 39 Studies in Higher Education 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 33. Westminster 66.Newcastle School of Y Y Y Y Y Y Y - - Y Y Y Y - Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y - Y Y Y Y Y Y Y - Y Y Y Y - 42.London Economics 37.Sheffield Hallam 53.Swansea 60.SOAS 54.Portsmouth* 46.Surrey 58.Manchester Metropolitan* 40.London Metropolitan* 36.Southampton 55.Plymouth* 45.com/cshe ee Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y rR - ev 35 ie Y Y Y Y Y - w On - ly - .Queen's – Belfast 48.Reading 49.University London 62.Middlesex* 41.UWIC 63.Queen Mary 47.Stirling 56.West Bristol 65. College rP Fo URL: http://mc.St Andrews 51.Manchester 39.Sheffield 52.Ulster 61.

Lancaster rP Fo 2.35 3.Bangor 6.65 2.Central Lancashire 14.15 2.Aberystwyth 3.Bradford 9.75 NS NS URL: http://mc.Bournemouth 8.35 2.East Anglia 19.Bath 5.Essex 22.75 2.05 3.3 2.6 2. Research scores in the business and management unit of the 2008 RAE.Aberdeen 2.Coventry 16.Heriot-Watt 26.55 NS NS NS NS NS NS 2.45 NS 2.Anglia Ruskin 4.5 1.15 2.Birmingham 7.5 2.0 NS rR 36 ev ie 2.Studies in Higher Education Page 36 of 39 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 Table 5: Research scores in the 2008 RAE for those universities offering economics degrees.Brunel 11.60 1.Kent 30.35 NS NS NS NS NS NS NS NS 1.Hertfordshire 27.Durham 18.00 1.Edinburgh 21.East London 20.com/cshe ee 3.65 3.manuscriptcentral.85 NS NS NS NS 2.Hull 28.75 NS 2.Kingston 31.00 NS NS NS NS NS 2.95 2. 2.65 NS 2.65 1.25 NS NS NS NS 2.6 2.City 15.5 2.Glasgow 24.95 NS 2.Bristol 10.Exeter 23.4 2.25 1.75 NS NS NS 2.45 2.Greenwich 25.00 2. (NS – not submitted to the 2008 RAE in the ‘Economics and Econometrics’ UoA.35 2.95 2.05 NS NS 2.95 3.45 NS 2.Cambridge 12.95 NS 2.) University * Research scores in economics and econometrics unit of the 2008 RAE.9 2.Cardiff 13.65 2.Dundee 17.95 3.95 w On ly .Keele 29.75 NS NS NS NS NS 2.45 NS 2. Research scores in the accounting and finance unit of the 2008 RAE.

Loughborough 38.85 2.65 2.Strathclyde 57.UWIC 63.London School of Economics 37.Leicester 34.2 2.75 NS 3.15 2.15 2.1 2.Portsmouth 46.95 2.Middlesex 41.Nottingham 43.7 NS NS 3.45 1.Plymouth 45.25 3.70 2.Surrey 58.York *It should be noted that Oxford and Birkbeck were submitted but are not included in the Table above as they do not meet our rule for selection in the study.5 NS 3.Reading 49.5 ie NS w 2.com/cshe ee 3.Warwick 64.Liverpool 35.9 2.8 2. Westminster 66.Swansea 60.35 2.University College London 62.Southampton 55.75 NS 2.Nottingham Trent 44.85 2.65 2. Bristol 65. rP Fo URL: http://mc.6 2.5 2.SOAS 54.00 2.15 NS NS 2.55 2.95 2.05 1.7 1.55 2.Sheffield 52.35 2.Queen Mary 47.70 2.West of England.6 2.35 NS NS 2.85 2.St Andrews 51.70 2.00 2.3 NS NS NS NS NS NS NS NS NS NS NS NS NS NS NS NS NS NS NS NS NS NS NS 2.manuscriptcentral.55 2.9 NS 2.5 2.15 NS NS NS 3.Page 37 of 39 Studies in Higher Education 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 32.Royal Holloway 50.45 3.Sheffield Hallam 53.Ulster 61.25 NS NS 42.Leeds 33.Queen's – Belfast 48.Sussex 59.Stirling 56.05 2.00 2.25 NS 1.35 NS NS NS NS NS NS NS NS 2.Manchester Metropolitan 40.75 rR 37 ev 2.15 2.45 On ly .London Metropolitan 36.35 2.65 2.85 2.Manchester 39.8 NS NS 3.Newcastle NS 2.

and bearing in mind that it may have changed just as much as the provision of exit titles has changed. 1 rP Fo URL: http://mc.com/cshe ee rR ev ie w On ly 38 . 7 We recognise that this means we will not identify changes before this point in time but research constraints mean that this is the best we can realistically do. clearly something that is a weakness of our study. the term ‘new’ will be used to refer to post-1992 universities and ‘old’ to refer to pre-1992 universities. it will mean that our data overestimate the extent of provision.Studies in Higher Education Page 38 of 39 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 Unfortunately the data do not allow us to measure changes in the relative academic price (relative entrance requirements) of economic programmes over this period. 4 Though the importance of these aspects of economics education is recognised and accepted.manuscriptcentral. their measurement and assessment lie outside the remit of this study. 6 Some of the country’s top universities for the study of economics only offer the subject in conjunction with other subjects at undergraduate level and to conclude that economics is not a serious subject in these institutions would clearly be wrong. To the extent that this is important. many of these programmes will not run and indeed many never have run. then this may indicate that the popularity of the subject is falling more generally and not just at some of the new universities. 5 It has to borne in mind that though offered. and recognising all the difficulties involved in categorising universities in this way. 3 The extent to which courses were removed before 2004 will lead us to underestimate the importance of withdrawals. If the increase in student numbers in the higher education sector as a whole is the result of a reduction in absolute or relative entrance requirements. 2 For the sake of brevity and clarity.

research performance and geographical location in the decision to withdraw economics programmes are examined. research activity.manuscriptcentral. The paper explores the changes in the provision of economics programmes in the UK by reviewing the current state of provision and charting how it has changed in the last ten or so years. physics. ‘new’ and ‘old’ universities. retention and withdrawal.com/cshe ee rR ev 1 ie w On ly . mathematics. Differences between pre-1992 and post-1992 universities. modern languages and history in the universities of the United Kingdom has been well documented.Page 39 of 39 Studies in Higher Education 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 Economics: an elite subject for elite universities? Abstract The decline in the number of universities offering programmes in subjects such as chemistry. Research activity does not explain why new universities have retained or withdrawn economics programmes. may be going through a similar process. both in the UK and in other parts of the world. The study reports the results of a survey to reveal a complex picture with economics provision affected by a number of internal and external factors. It now appears that economics programmes. widening access rP Fo URL: http://mc. Key words Economics programmes.