Gender, motivation and labour market beliefs in higher education choices

Peter Davies*, Marco G. Ercolani

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We examine relationships between motivations towards higher education choices, gender and beliefs about the financial consequences of these choices. We control for home background, school type and students’ expectations of grades they will achieve at age 16. We use a unique individual-level UK data set from a random sample of schools with a student sample size of 5012. These motivations are coded on six-point Likert scales so our modelling approach is by means of ‘multivariate ordered logit’ regressions. Boys express a much stronger motivation towards private financial gain whilst girls express stronger motivation towards occupational status and contributions towards society. We also find strong positive associations between motivation towards personal financial gain and beliefs about the financial value of a higher education. Our results support a multi-stranded theory of motivation towards higher education that takes account of beliefs about the external environment as well as self-beliefs about future academic achievement.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages18
JournalHigher Education
Publication statusPublished - 3 Oct 2020


  • Cultural capital
  • Gender
  • HE choices
  • HE financial gain
  • HE motivations
  • Higher education
  • School children

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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