AN ONGOING EMPIRICAL ANALYSIS OF STUDENTS' ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE: ERASMUS VS NON-ERASMUS
Many positive effects have been associated to the Erasmus Programme for the students taking part in it. Amongst them, a personal growth and development, an improvement in their foreign language skills, more awareness of intercultural issues, and a better employability prospect. In fact, taking into account the figures reached by the Programme since its launch in 1987, there is little doubt about its success.
Some of the above mentioned effects can be easily measured; others not so straightforwardly, even though there is a line of thought in the literature focused on the assessment of these outcomes, mainly through the employment of surveys. This paper, however, puts the emphasis on one effect intrinsically inherent to the academic feature of the Erasmus programme: the improvement in the academic performance of the students who have participated in it. In order to do so, a sample of students from the Economics and Business Administration degrees at the Faculty of Economics (University of Valencia) has been used, considering not only those students who did spend one academic semester/year abroad under the framework of the Erasmus programme, but also their classmates who did not enjoy the benefits of the programme, the later ones taken as a control group. Since the University of Valencia is currently one of the most active European higher education institutions participant in the Erasmus programme, according to the number of incoming and outcoming students involved, the sample used is large enough to provide robust results.
To check the improvement in the academic performance and its statistical significance double-difference techniques have been employed. This methodology essentially compares treatment and control groups in terms of outcome changes over time relative to the outcomes observed for a pre-intervention baseline by assuming that unobserved heterogeneity in participation is present—but that such factors are time invariant. Thus, with data collected before and after the students’ participation in the program, this fixed component can be differenced out.
This paper continues a former line of research consisting on an empirical analysis of the academic performance of the Erasmus students from the University of Valencia. Previous results indicate that, in most cases, the students’ academic performance improves during their Erasmus stay, both in terms of the number of credits and the marks obtained, even though there are some differences depending on the gender of the student and, specially, the geographical destination of the Erasmus exchange. Additionally, the students’ previous academic performance is the factor which plays a major role in explaining the improvement achieved during their Erasmus stay, whereas the students’ previous language skills do not have a direct effect on it. The enlargement of the sample together with the consideration of working with a control group in our ongoing research will maybe give support or, on the contrary, put a shade on those previous results.