An investigation into the role played by research assessment in the socio-geographic fragmentation of undergraduate economics education in the UK

James Johnston, Alan Reeves

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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This study charts the socio-geographic fragmentation of the economics discipline in the UK. It is revealed that the marriage of economics teaching and research is now limited to elite institutions located mainly in the south of the UK. None of the UK’s new (post-1992) universities submitted to the Economics and Econometrics (E&E) unit of assessment (UOA) in 2014, the UK’s most recent research evaluation exercise (REE). Lower REE scores are shown to be associated with higher withdrawal rates from the next E&E UOA and subsequent undergraduate economics programme closure. Universities that exit the E&E UOA moving to the Business and Management (B&M) UOA appear to benefit in the form of higher REE scores. Though restricted to the experience of one academic discipline in one country, the lessons from this study yield important insights into how the results of REEs can be a principal driver of change in higher education.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)589-614
Number of pages26
JournalHigher Education
Issue number4
Early online date27 Jan 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 27 Jan 2018



  • Economics research
  • Undergraduate economics programmes
  • Retention
  • Programme closure
  • Withdrawal from units of assessment

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