What Do Prospective Students Want? An Observational Study of Preferences About Subject of Study in Higher Education

  • Alessandro VinciarelliEmail author
  • Walter Riviera
  • Francesca Dalmasso
  • Stefan Raue
  • Chamila Abeyratna
Part of the Intelligent Systems Reference Library book series (ISRL, volume 159)


This article presents an observational study about the choice of Higher Education of 4,885 prospective students attending an Open Day organised by the University of Glasgow. In particular, this work analyses the distribution of the preferences across the 109 subjects (e.g., Mechanical Engineering, English Literature, etc.) that have been presented during the Open Day. The results suggest that factors like the graduate prospects (percentage of students that have a job or continue education within one year after graduation in a given area) or the first expected salary do not play a major role in the distribution of the preferences. When it comes to the difference between female and male prospective students, the results show that the science-humanities divide is less significant than the care-technical one. Finally, the data shows that the level of education in the environment where someone lives is the dimension along which the prospective students are most unequal.



This work was supported by The Data Lab ( through the project “Knowledge Extraction for Business Opportunities” (agreement 70539). Two of the authors (Stefan Raue and Chamila Abeyratna) work for Bizvento (, the company that has developed the mobile application used to collect the data.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alessandro Vinciarelli
    • 1
    Email author
  • Walter Riviera
    • 1
  • Francesca Dalmasso
    • 1
  • Stefan Raue
    • 2
  • Chamila Abeyratna
    • 2
  1. 1.University of GlasgowGlasgowUK
  2. 2.BizventoGlasgowUK

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