Ruhr Economic Papers

Ruhr Economic Papers #288

Performance-related Funding of Universities – Does more Competition Lead to Grade Inflation?

by Thomas K. Bauer and Barbara S. Grave

RWI, RUB, 10/2011, 23 S./p., 8 Euro, ISBN 978-3-86788-334-4



German universities are regarded as being under-financed, inefficient, and performing below average if compared to universities in other European countries and the US. Starting in the 1990s, several German federal states implemented reforms to improve this situation. An important part of these reforms has been the introduction of indicator-based funding systems. These financing systems aimed at increasing the competition between universities by making their public funds dependent on their relative performance concerning different output measures, such as the share of students obtaining a degree or the amount of third party funds. This paper evaluates whether the indicator-based funding created unintended incentives, i.e. whether the reform caused a grade inflation. Estimating mean as well as quantile treatment effects, we cannot support the hypothesis that increased competition between universities causes grade inflation.

JEL-Classification: H52, I21, I22

Keywords: Grade inflation; higher education funding; university competition