Is it possible to derive organizing principles of higher education systems from the applicants’ choices? Here, we introduce the Higher Education Space (HES) as a way to describe the complex relationship between degree programs. The HES is based on the application of methods from network science to data on the revealed preferences of applicants to the higher education systems of Chile and Portugal. Our work reveals: 1) the existence of a positive assortment of features – such as gender balance, application scores, unemployment levels, demand-supply ratio, etc – along the network structure of the HES; 2) that the decaying of the prevalence level of a feature from a focal degree program extends beyond the dyadic relationships captured by the HES; 3) temporal variations in different features do not spillover/propagate throughout the system in the same way; 4) differences in unemployment levels reported among pairs of degree programs are minimized when taking into consideration the connectivity structure of the HES, largely outperforming the differences in matched pairs using traditional similarity measures; and 5) grouping of degree programs based in the network structure of the HES provides an applicant perspective that complements existing classification systems. Our findings support the HES as a multi-dimensional framework that can effectively contribute to the governance of higher education systems.
Recommended citation: Candia, Cristian, Sara Encarnação, and Flávio L. Pinheiro. "The Higher Education Space, Connecting Degree Programs from Individuals." arXiv preprint arXiv:1810.03676 (2018).