What Drives Students’ University Choices?

What Drives Students’ University Choices? A Longitudinal Study Using Survey Experiments

The research project aims to advance theoretical and empirical knowledge about the bachelor-to-master transition. Given that the large majority of bachelor students in Germany start master studies, we focus on students’ university choices and the ramifications of their decisions for social inequality. Besides widely applied rational action theories for educational decision-making, we want to test theories of bounded rationality that assume different decision rules. The core element of our study is an innovative two-wave longitudinal design in combination with multifactorial survey and choice experiments. On the one hand, this makes it possible to study determinants of behavioural intentions and to investigate the interrelations and differences between intentions, actual behaviour, and ex-post rationalizations of the former. On the other hand, this research design allows for a closer look at students’ choice sets and trade-offs between advantages and disadvantages of various study programmes. The project makes a methodological contribution by addressing concerns about the predictive validity of survey experiments and exploring the applicability of the approach to transition decisions in (higher) education.


Project team: Prof. Dr. Tobias Wolbring, Edgar Treischl