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Efficiency and Mergers in English Higher Education 1996/97 to 2008/9: Parametric and Non-parametric Estimation of the Multi-input Multi-output Distance Function


  • Jill Johnes

    1. Lancaster University
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    • The author is grateful for comments to: Steve Bradley and Geraint Johnes; three anonymous referees; the participants at the Society for Research into Higher Education Conference 7–9 December 2011; the participants at the North American Productivity Workshop 6–9 June 2012; and the participants at the Beijing Forum 2–4 November 2012. The usual disclaimer applies.


This paper explores the issue of efficiency in English higher education using data envelopment analysis and stochastic frontier analysis to estimate an output distance function (which incorporates measures of both quantity and quality of teaching and research inputs and outputs) over a 13-year period. The study compares the efficiency estimates derived from various estimation methods, and uses the results to provide guidance to researchers, managers and policymakers on undertaking efficiency studies. The length of the study under consideration allows a preliminary statistical investigation of the effects on efficiency of merger activity in higher education.