Does university prestige lead to discrimination in the labour market? Evidence from a labour market field experiment in three countries

24th February 2022 : 14:00 - 15:00

Category: Webinar

Speaker: Georgiana Mihut, University of Warwick

Location: Zoom webinar, registration required

Do employers prioritize university prestige above an applicant’s skills in the hiring process? The seminar presents evidence from a recent study to make the case that employers in skill-intensive sectors of the labor market do not pay particular attention to university prestige when hiring for entry-level jobs. The seminar also highlights why we should think critically about the effects of university prestige in the labor market.

The study aimed to distinguish between the effect of skills in the hiring process from the effect of the name of the graduating university. 2,400 fictitious applications were submitted to IT and accounting jobs in the US, UK, and Australia. The resumes belonged to fictitious citizens, both female and male. For each sector of the labor market, two resumes were designed. One resume had a high skills match with the generic requirements of entry level jobs in each sector. A second resume had a low skills match with the same requirements. For each country, one high-ranked university and one non-high-ranked university were selected to signal prestige. The name of the graduating university and the sex of the applicant were randomly assigned on otherwise identical resumes.

High skills match applications were 79 percent more likely to receive a callback than low skills match applications. University prestige and sex were not statistically significant predictors of callbacks. These findings suggest that human capital, and not university prestige, predicts callback outcomes in skill intensive sectors of the labor market for entry-level applicants with a bachelor’s degree. Implications for students and universities are discussed.

This webinar is part of the free public seminar programme hosted by the Centre for Global Higher Education (CGHE).