Incentivise predatory universities with a proportional grade-linked fee structure

The A-level results have come and gone yet again. Underneath all the hype and excitement, we can see the reliable old friend of economists at work. Namely, the impact of incentives. Michael Gove, in his previous Cabinet incarnation as education secretary, decided to restore the meaning of grades in A-level and GCSE exams. Until the […]

Economists have lost the public’s trust by meddling in politics

Big Ben from London Eye

Michael Gove famously said during the Brexit campaign that people “have had enough of experts”. Certainly, the outcome suggests that many were sceptical of the doom-laden economic projections of Project Fear. But what do the public think about economists themselves? An intriguing survey released last week by ING bank and the Bristol University Economics Network […]

The blob is wrong: competition and independence raise school standards

The A-Level results released last week confirm the dominance of schools in London and the South East. Provisional league tables have only appeared so far for state schools, but these two regions have two-thirds of the top 100. South Yorkshire, Tyne and Wear, and Wales did not have a single school between them in the […]

Gresham’s Law in Education: How the Bad Drove Out the Good

Young adults in England have scored almost the lowest result in the developed world in international literacy and numeracy tests. A study by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) shows how England’s 16 to 24 year olds are falling behind their Asian and European counterparts. England is 22nd for literacy and 21st for […]

Why teachers are just like bankers

The current highly emotional debate about GCSE grades is not very enlightening.  But what has happened tells us a lot about how incentives matter, how they affect outcomes.  And at the same time, it shows that unless a proper set of social norms is in place, incentives can have unanticipated, perverse effects. Bankers and teachers […]