IOE - Faculty of Education and Society


Can higher education policy boost social mobility? Evidence from an empirical matching model

05 May 2022, 3:00 pm–4:00 pm

Students listening to university lecture. Image by luckybusiness / Abobe Stock.

Join this event to hear Dr Jack Britton discuss recent research which has used rich administrative data to estimate a novel two-sided matching model of the higher education system in the UK.

This event is free.

Event Information

Open to







The Centre for Education Policy and Equalising Opportunities (CEPEO)

In this webinar, Jack will explore how the model matches sorting patterns well, and how it also replicates the observed responses to large financing reforms that occurred in 2012, despite being estimated on earlier data. 

The research simulates a wide set of policies aimed at boosting intergenerational income mobility. Policies targeted at increasing the demand for university amongst poorer students, such as tuition fee write-offs or maintenance grants, have almost no impact on income mobility. 

Incentives for low income students to study fields with higher returns can be more effective at increasing their earnings. However, the largest increases in income mobility result from percent plans, which offer preferential admission to those who graduate near the top of their high school class. 

This leads to the conclusion that achieving substantial improvements in income mobility through the higher education system is likely to require reforms to admissions policy.

This event will be particularly useful for those interested in higher education.

Related links

About the Speaker

Dr Jack Britton

Reader of Economics at University of York

His research is primarily focussed on the economics of education, including teacher pay, school effectiveness, student loan design and the returns to higher education. On the latter, he has led a large programme of work for the Department for Education using the new Longitudinal Educational Outcomes (LEO) dataset to look at how returns vary by institution attended, subject studied and by individual background characteristics. More recent work has focussed on how higher education policy can be used to promote social mobility more effectively. Jack is also an Associate Director at the Institute for Fiscal Studies.