Studies in Higher Education 45(7) pp 1351-1366

Considerable attention has been paid to the economic benefits of participating in higher education, particularly the ‘economic premium’ of graduates compared to non-graduates. Although the civic contribution of graduates has been widely acknowledged and discussed, there has been a dearth of empirical analysis that investigates this contribution. Furthermore, the massification of higher education in the UK, US, and many other countries, has had profound impacts on the higher education experience. But little is known about how changes to the form and function of mass higher education have impacted on the civic contribution of university graduates. This research attempts to address this by focussing specifically on associational membership of university graduates during their early adulthood. By calculating the ‘civic premium’ of UK graduates compared to their non-graduate peers over time we are able explore the relationship between associational membership and higher education participation following the massification of UK higher education.