GRM 2010 GRM 2011

Abstract Details

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Does the choice of high school matter? Evidence from the UAE on the effects of schooling on student\'s university performance
Paper Proposal Text :
This paper examines the performance of about 4000 students at the American University of Sharjah, United Arab Emirates (UAE), to assess the degree by which three major high-school related variables - grades, curriculum type (American, British, or Emirati), and ownership (public versus private) - affect student achievement at the university level. We also control for other potentially important determinants, such as student’s gender, field of study, cohort, and nationality, as well as for a subset of students, family income. The diversity of the UAE society (90 percent of the population is foreign) and its openness to various education systems, generate useful variation in high-school background data. The paper provides micro-econometric contribution to the debate on the quality of high school education in the UAE, by looking at how different schools and systems prepare students for American-style university education.
The literature on the quality of high-school education has looked at three main outcomes: common exam results, university performance, and job market success. However, most of the empirical work has focused on evidence from North American and Europe. Econometric studies on education in the Middle East in general and the Gulf in particular are rare, even though the region’s spending on education is among the highest in the world, and despite considerable concerns about high school standards and outcomes. In addition, little is known in the general literature about the effect of high-school curriculum type on performance. In this regard, we do not attempt to investigate the differences among curricula types but rather evaluate their standings based on their outcomes, in the form of students’ academic performance at the university level, as measured by the grade point average.
In terms of policy implications, this study is beneficial to education policy makers, students, and parents, in terms of resource allocation and the returns to education across different types of curricula and schools. Further, university administrators might find the results of the study helpful in predicting academic success and therefore in designing admissions policy. Given that the literature has established a strong link between youth unemployment and the quality of education, our study is also relevant to policy makers and analysts interested in tackling youth unemployment, an increasingly important problem in the UAE.