A-level subject choice, systematic bias and university performance in the UK : the case of Accounting

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British students from lower socio-economic backgrounds are more likely to attend non-selective state schools and are therefore more likely to take a wider variety of A-level subjects including applied disciplines such as Accounting. This is attributed to the performative pressure subjected by school league tables that incentivise schools to encourage students to select subjects that will yield the highest grades. However, many leading universities have restricted the chances of applicants holding particular combinations of A-level subjects that, in some cases, include Accounting. Interviews held within a large English university reveal that few students are aware of such restrictions, whilst corresponding quantitative data indicates that students who enter university with two or more restricted A-level subjects perform no differently on average than other students. Those entering university with an Accounting A-level, however, perform, better in their first year but exhibit lower degree performance, on average, by the end of their studies.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)248-267
Number of pages19
JournalAccounting Education
Issue number3
Early online date26 Jun 2013
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • Accounting education, A-level subject choice, social mobility, Accounting academic performance