Journal of Asian Business and Economic Studies
Vol. 26(02) , October 2019, Page 265-285


Enrolment by academic discipline in higher education: differential and determinants
Geetha Rani Prakasam & Mukesh Mukesh & Gopinathan R.

Abstract
Purpose Enrolling in an academic discipline or selecting the college major choice is a dynamic process. Very few studies examine this aspect in India. This paper makes a humble attempt to fill this gap using NSSO 71st round data on social consumption on education. The purpose of this paper is to use multinomial regression model to study the different factors that influence course choice in higher education. The different factors (given the availability of information) considered relate to ability, gender, cost of higher education, socio-economic and geographical location. The results indicate that gender polarization is apparent between humanities and engineering. The predicated probabilities bring out the dichotomy between the choice of courses and levels of living expressed through consumption expenditures in terms of professional and non-professional courses. Predicted probabilities of course choices bring in a clear distinction between south and west regions preferring engineering and other professional courses, whereas north, east and NES prefer humanities. Design/methodology/approach The present paper follows the same approach as that of Turner and Bowen (1999). The Multinomial regression is specified as , where P (Mi=j) denotes the probability of choosing outcome j, the particular course/major choice that categorizes different disciplines. This response variable is specified with five categories: such as medicine, engineering, other professional courses, science and humanities. The authors’ primary interest is to determine the factors governing an individual’s decision to choose a particular subject field as compared to humanities. In other words, to make the system identifiable in the MLR, humanities is treated as a reference category. The vector Xi includes the set of explanatory variables and βj refers to the corresponding coefficients for each of the outcome j. From an aggregate perspective, the distribution of course choices is an important input to the skill (technical skills) composition of future workforce. In that sense, except humanities, the rest of the courses are technical-intensive courses; hence, humanities is treated as a reference category. Findings The results indicate that gender polarization is apparent between humanities and engineering. The predicated probabilities bring out the dichotomy between the choice of courses and levels of living expressed through consumption expenditures in terms of professional and non-professional courses. Predicted probabilities of course choices bring in a clear distinction between south and west regions preferring engineering and other professional courses, whereas north, east and NES prefer humanities. Research limitations/implications Predicted probabilities of course choices bring in a clear distinction between south and west regions preferring engineering and other professional courses, whereas north, east and NES prefer humanities. This course and regional imbalance need to be worked with multi-pronged strategies of providing both access to education and employment opportunities in other states. But the predicted probabilities of medicine and science remain similar across the board. Very few research studies on the determinants of field choice in higher education prevail in India. Research studies on returns to education by field or course choices hardly exist in India. These evidences are particularly important to know which course choices can support student loans, which can be the future area of work. Practical implications The research evidence is particularly important to know which course choices can support student loans, which can be the future area of work, as well as how to address the gender bias in the course choices. Social implications The paper has social implications in terms of giving insights into the course choices of students. These findings bring in implications for practice in their ability to predict the demand for course choices and their share of demand, not only in the labor market but also across regions. India has 36 states/UTs and each state/UT has a huge population size and large geographical areas. The choice of course has state-specific influence because of nature of state economy, society, culture and inherent education systems. Further, within the states, rural and urban variation has also a serious influence on the choice of courses. Originality/value The present study is a value addition on three counts. First, the choice of courses includes the recent trends in the preference over market-oriented/technical courses such as medicine, engineering and other professional courses (chartered accountancy and similar courses, courses from Industrial Training Institute, recognized vocational training institute, etc.). The choice of market-oriented courses has been examined in relation to the choice of conventional subjects. Second, the socio-economic background of students plays a significant role in the choice of courses. Third, the present paper uses the latest data on Social Consumption on Education.

Keywords
Higher education, Gender, Region, Enrolment choice, Multinomial regression, Technical and non-technical stream
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