Specialists or All-rounders: How best to select university students?

TítuloSpecialists or All-rounders: How best to select university students?
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2020
AuthorsSilva, PLuís
JournalAvailable at SSRN 3757434
Palavras-chaveUniversity Choice & Admission Tests & Job Market & General Skills.

This paper studies whether universities should select their students only using specialised subject-specific tests, or on the basis of a broader set of skills and knowledge. The empirical analysis is guided by a theoretical framework. The theoretical model shows that even if broader skills are not improving graduates’ outcomes in the labour market, the university chooses to use them as a criterion for selection alongside the mastery of more subject-specific tools. This is so because broader skills allow the university to select candidates who are on average abler. I test the model on a large administrative dataset of Portuguese students. Within programmes, I exploit the variation between specific and non-specific entrance exam sets. My central finding is that, on average, universities with less specialised admission policies admit a pool of students who obtain a higher final GPA.

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