About the Project
Yet, we still know very little about what students think about the value of these activities in terms of employability and earnings and whether there is significant variation in these beliefs according to students’ family background and other individual characteristics. In a recent study, we exploit new data collected from a cohort of undergraduate students at a UK Higher Education institution (the BOOST2018 study) to show how expected returns to investment in extra-curricular activities inform students’ time allocation choices during undergraduate studies (Delavande et al., 2020). Interestingly, we also uncover important differences in these expected returns by ethnicity, with BAME students perceiving lower returns to work experience and other types of extra-curricular activities as compared to their white British colleagues. It is however still unclear whether the differences we document are driven by the presence of labour market constraints, which may reduce access to certain types of activities for some groups of the population, or lack of information about the true return to these activities. Indeed, with few exceptions (Persico et al. 2004, Lechner and Downward 2017, Saniter and Siedler 2014), there is little proof that participation in extra-curricular activities while at university leads to improved employability upon graduation, or if the returns vary with socio-economic background or ethnicity, for example. It is also unclear to what extent students have a good understanding of the type of employability skills mostly sought after by prospective employer, or whether they these beliefs are updated upon entering the labour market.
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