Higher Education Efficiency Frontier Analysis: A Review of Variables to Consider





Data Envelopment Analysis, Efficiency Frontiers Review, Stochastic Frontier Analysis, University Efficiency


The measurement of efficiency in higher education has gained a growing interest in recent years, especially due to the expansion of the university system. This paper provides a review of the literature on efficiency in higher education institutions by covering empirical articles which applied frontier efficiency measurement techniques from 1997 to 2019. We review the methodological approaches used, both parametric and non-parametric techniques, such as Data Envelopment Analysis, Malmquist index and Stochastic Frontier Analysis. Secondly, we list the applied inputs, input prices, outputs, quality, and environment variables and based on the overview, we discuss the advantages and drawbacks of the different empirical proxy variables used. We address the importance of characterizing students and research funding as raw materials of both the teaching and research services, respectively, and we provide suggestions on how to deal with them empirically. We also discuss the difference between quality and environmental variables, and we give some practical indications to distinguish them in doubtful cases.


Abbott, M., and Doucouliagos, C. (2009) ‘Competition and Efficiency: Overseas Students and Technical Efficiency in Australian and New Zealand Universities’, Education Economics, Vol. 17, No. 1, pp. 31–57. https://doi.org/10.1080/09645290701773433

Abbott, M. and Doucouliagos, C. (2003) ‘The Efficiency of Australian Universities: A Data Envelopment Analysis’, Economics of Education Review, Vol. 22, No. 1, pp. 89-97. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0272-7757(01)00068-1

Abramo, G. and D’Angelo, C.A. (2009) ‘Assessing technical and cost efficiency of research activities: A case study of the Italian university system’, Research Evaluation, Vol. 18, No. 1, pp. 61–70. https://doi.org/10.3152/095820209X408869

Agasisti, T. (2011) ‘Performance and Spending Efficiency in Higher Education: A European Comparison Through Non-Parametric Approaches’, Education Economics, Vol. 19, No. 2, pp. 199-224. https://doi.org/10.1080/09645290903094174

Agasisti, T. (2014) ‘The Efficiency of Public Spending on Education: An Empirical Comparison of EU Countries’, European Journal of Education, Vol. 49, No. 4, pp., 543-557. https://doi.org/10.1111/ejed.12069

Agasisti, T. (2016) ‘Cost Structure, Productivity and Efficiency of the Italian Public Higher Education Industry 2001–2011’, International Review of Applied Economics, Vol. 30, No. 1, pp. 48–68. https://doi.org/10.1080/02692171.2015.1070130

Agasisti, T. (2017) ‘Management of Higher Education Institutions and the Evaluation of their Efficiency and Performance’, Tertiary Education and Management, Vol. 23, No. 3, pp. 187-190. https://doi.org/10.1080/13583883.2017.1336250

Agasisti, T. and Bonomi, F. (2014) ‘Benchmarking Universities’ Efficiency Indicators in the Presence of Internal Heterogeneity’, Studies in Higher Education, Vol. 39, No. 7, pp. 1237-1255. https://doi.org/10.1080/03075079.2013.801423

Agasisti, T., Barra, C. and Zotti, R. (2016) ‘Evaluating the Efficiency of Italian Public Universities (2008-2011) ‘in Presence of (Unobserved) ‘Heterogeneity’, Socio-Economic Planning Sciences, Vol. 55, pp. 47-58. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.seps.2016.06.002

Agasisti, T., Catalano G., Landoni, P. and Verganti, R. (2012) ‘Evaluating the performance of academic departments: an analysis of research-related output efficiency’, Research Evaluation, Vol. 21, No. 1, pp. 2-14. https://doi.org/10.1093/reseval/rvr001

Agasisti, T. and Dal Bianco, A. (2006) ‘Data Envelopment Analysis of the Italian University System: Theoretical and Policy Implications’, International Journal of Business Performance Management, Vol. 8, No. 4, pp. 344-367. https://doi.org/10.1504/IJBPM.2006.009613

Agasisti, T. and Gralka, S. (2017) ‘The Transient and Persistent Efficiency of Italian and German Universities: A Stochastic Frontier Analysis’, CEPIE Working Paper 14/17.

Agasisti, T., and Haelermans, C. (2016) ‘Comparing Efficiency of Public Universities among European Countries: Different Incentives Lead to Different Performances’, Higher Education Quarterly, Vol. 70 , No. 1, pp. 81–104. https://doi.org/10.1111/hequ.12066

Agasisti, T. and Johnes, G. (2009) ‘Beyond Frontiers: Comparing the Efficiency of Higher Education Decision-Making Units across More Than One Country’, Education Economics, Vol. 171, No. 1, pp. 59-79. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09645290701523291

Agasisti, T. and Johnes, G. (2010) ‘Heterogeneity and the Evaluation of Efficiency: the case of Italian Universities’, Applied Economics, Vol. 42, No. 11, pp. 1365-1375. https://doi.org/10.1080/00036840701721463

Agasisti, T. and Johnes, G. (2013) ‘Efficiency, Costs, Rankings and Heterogenity: the case of US Higher Education’, Studies in Higher Education, Vol. 40, No. 1, pp. 21-37. https://doi.org/10.1080/03075079.2013.818644

Agasisti, T. and Pérez-Esparrells, C. (2010) ‘Comparing Efficiency in a Cross-Country Perspective: The Case of Italian and Spanish State Universities’, Higher Education, Vol. 59, No. 1, pp. 85-103. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10734-009-9235-8

Agasisti, T. and Salerno, C. (2007) ‘Assessing the Cost Efficiency of Italian Universities’, Education Economics, Vol. 15, No. 4, pp. 455-471. https://doi.org/10.1080/09645290701273491

Agasisti, T. and Wolszczak-Derlacz, J. (2016) ‘Exploring efficiency differentials between Italian and Polish universities, 2001–11’, Science and Public Policy, Vol. 43, No. 1, pp. 128-142. https://doi.org/10.1093/scipol/scv026

Aigner, D. J., Lovel, C.A.K. and Schmidt, P. (1977) ‘Formulation and Estimation of Stochastic Frontier Production Function Models’, Journal of Econometrics, Vol. 6, No. 1, pp. 21-37. https://doi.org/10.1016/0304-4076(77)90052-5

Andersson, C., Antelius, J., Mansson, J. and Sund, K. (2016) ‘Technical Efficiency and Productivity for Higher Education Institutions in Sweden’, Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research, Vol. 61, No. 2, pp. 205-223. https://doi.org/10.1080/00313831.2015.1120230

Athanassopoulos, A.D. and Shale, E. (1997) ‘Assessing the Comparative Efficiency of Higher Education Institutions in the UK by the Means of Data Envelopment Analysis’, Education Economics, Vol. 5, No. 2, pp. 117-134, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09645299700000011

Avkiran, N.K. (2001) ‘Investigating Technical and Scale Efficiencies of Australian Universities through Data Envelopment Analysis’, Socio-Economic Planning Sciences, Vol. 35, No. 1, pp. 57-80. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0038-0121(00)00010-0

Badunenko, O. and Kumbhakar, S.C. (2016) ‘When, Where and How to Estimate Persistent and Transient Efficiency in Stochastic Frontier Panel Data Models’, European Journal of Operational Research, Vol. 225, No. 1, pp. 272–287. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ejor.2016.04.049

Barra, C., Lagravinese, R. and Zotti, R. (2018) ‘Does Econometric Methodology Matter to Rank Universities? An Analysis of Italian Higher Education System’, Socio-Economic Planning Sciences, Vol. 62, pp. 104-120. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.seps.2017.09.002

Barra, C. and Zotti R. (2016a) ‘A Directional Distance Approach Applied to Higher Education: An Analysis of Teaching-Related Output Efficiency’, Annals of Public and Cooperative Economics, Vol. 87, No. 2, pp. 145-173. https://doi.org/10.1111/apce.12091

Barra, C. and Zotti R. (2016b) ‘Measuring Efficiency in Higher Education: An Empirical Study Using a Bootstrapped Data Envelopment Analysis’, International Advances in Economic Research, Vol. 22, pp. 11-33. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11294-015-9558-4

Banker, R., Charnes, A. and Cooper, W.W. (1984) ‘Some Models for Estimating Technical and Scale Inefficiencies in Data Envelopment Analysis’, Management Science, Vol. 30, No. 9, pp. 1078–1092. https://doi.org/10.1287/mnsc.30.9.1078

Battese, G.E., and Coelli, T.J. (1988) ‘Prediction of firm-level technical efficiencies with generalized frontier production function and panel data’, Journal of Econometrics, Vol. 38, No. 3, pp. 387-399. https://doi.org/10.1016/0304-4076(88)90053-X

Battese, G.E. and Coelli, T.J. (1992) ‘Frontier production functions, technical efficiency and panel data: with application to paddy farmers in India’, Journal of Productivity Analysis, Vol. 3, No. 1-2, pp. 153-169. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00158774

Battese, G.E. and Coelli, T.J. (1995) ‘A model for technical inefficiency effects in a stochastic frontier production function for panel data’, Empirical Economics, Vol. 20, pp. 325-332. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01205442

Bauer P.W., Berger, A.N., Ferrier, G.D. and Humphrey, D.B. (1998) ‘Consistency Conditions for Regulatory Analysis of Financial Institutions: A Comparison of Frontier Efficiency Methods’, Journal of Economics and Business, Vol. 50, No. 2, pp. 85-114. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0148-6195(97)00072-6

Berbegal-Mirabent, J. (2018) ‘The influence of regulatory frameworks on research and knowledge transfer outputs: An efficiency analysis of Spanish public universities’, Journal of Engineering and Technology Management, Vol. 47, pp. 68-80. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jengtecman.2018.01.003

Berbegal-Mirabent, J., Lafuente, E. and Solé, F. (2013) ‘The pursuit of knowledge transfer activities: An efficiency analysis of Spanish universities’, Journal of Business Research Vol. 66, No. 10, pp. 2051-2059. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbusres.2013.02.031

Cantele, S., Guerrini, A. and Campedelli, B. (2016) ‘Efficiency of Italian Universities: The Effect of Controllable and Non-Controllable Environmental and Operational Variables’, International Journal of Public Policy, Vol. 12, No. 3-6, pp. 243-260. https://doi.org/10.1504/IJPP.2016.079737

Castano, M.C.N. and Cabanda, E.C. (2007) ‘Performance Evaluation of the Efficiency of Philippine Private Higher Educational Institutions: Application of Frontier Approaches’, International Transactions in Operational Research, Vol. 14, No. 5, pp. 431–444. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1475-3995.2007.00599.x

Caudill, S., and Ford, J. (1993) ‘Biases in frontier estimation due to heteroscedasticity’, Economic Letters, Vol. 41, No. 1, pp. 17-20. https://doi.org/10.1016/0165-1765(93)90104-K

Caudill, S., Ford, J. and Gropper, D. (1995) ‘Frontier estimation and firm-specific inefficiency measures in the presence of heteroscedasticity’, Journal of Business Economics and Statistics, Vol. 13, No. 1, pp. 105-111. https://dx.doi.org/10.2307/1392525

Charnes, A., Cooper, W.W. and Rhodes, E. (1978) ‘Measuring the Efficiency of Decision- Making Units’, European Journal of Operational Research, Vol. 2, No. 6, pp. 429–444. https://doi.org/10.1016/0377-2217(78)90138-8

Coelli, T., Rao, D.S.P, O’Donnell, C.J. and Battese, G. (2005) ‘An Introduction to Efficiency and Productivity Analysis’, New York, NY: Springer. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4615-5493-6

Cohn, E. and Cooper, S. T. (2004) ‘Multi-Product Cost Functions for Universities: Economies of Scale and Scope’, in Geraint J. and Johnes J. (eds.) International Handbook on the Economics of Education, Northampton, MA: Edgar Elgar Publishing.

Cornwell, C., Schmidt, P. and Sickles, R.C. (1990) ‘Production Frontiers with Time-Series Variation in Efficiency Levels’, Journal of Econometrics, Vol. 46, No. 1-2, pp. 185–200. https://doi.org/10.1016/0304-4076(90)90054-W

Costa, E. M., Ramos, F. S. and de Souza, H. R. (2011) ‘The Productive Efficiency of Federal Institutions of Brazilian Higher Education’, Encontro ANPEC 2011.

Daraio, C., Bonaccorsi, A. and Simar, L. (2015) ‘Efficiency and Economies of Scale and Specialization in European Universities: A Directional Distance Approach’, Journal of Infometrics, Vol. 9, No. 3, pp. 430-448. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.joi.2015.03.002

Das, S. and Das M. (2014) ‘Technical Efficiency and Performance of the Higher Educational Institutions: A Study of Affiliated Degree Colleges of Barak Valley in Assam’, Journal of Social and Economic Policy, Vol. 11, No. 1, pp. 59–70.

De Fraja, G. and Valbonesi, P. (2012) ‘The Design of the University System’, Journal of Public Economics, Vol. 96, No. 3-4, pp. 317-330. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpubeco.2011.10.005

De Witte, K. and López-Torres L. (2017) ‘Efficiency in education: a review of literature and a way forward’, Journal of the Operational Research Society, Vol. 68, No. 4, pp. 339-363. https://doi.org/10.1057/jors.2015.92

D’Elia, V. and G. Ferro (2019) ‘Empirical Efficiency Measurement in Higher Education: An Overview’, Serie Documentos de Trabajo 708, Universidad del CEMA (UCEMA)

D’Elia, V. and Ferro, G. (2020) ‘Efficiency in Public Higher Education: A Stochastic Frontier Analysis Considering Heterogeneity’, Revista de Análisis Económico - Economic Analysis Review [In Press]

Dyson, R.G., Allen, R., Camanho, A.S., Podinovski, V.V., Sarrico, C.S. and Shale, E.A. (2001) ‘Pitfalls and Protocols in DEA’, European Journal of Operational Research, Vol. 132, No. 2, 245-259. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0377-2217(00)00149-1

Eagan, K. and Titus M.A. (2016) ‘Examining Production Efficiency in Higher Education: The Utility of Stochastic Frontier Analysis’. In Higher Education: Handbook of Theory and Research. New York, NY: Springer.

Erkoc, T. E. (2015) ‘Assessing the Research Performance in Higher Education with Stochastic Distance Function Approach’, International Journal of Education Economics and Development, Vol. 6, No. 4, pp. 366-380. http://dx.doi.org/10.1504/IJEED.2015.075797

Ferreyra, M. M., Avitabile, C., Botero Álvarez, J., Haimovich Paz, F. and Urzúa, S. (2017) At a Crossroads. Higher Education in Latin America and the Caribbean, Washington, DC: Directions in Development. Human Development. World Bank Group. https://doi.org/10.1596/978-1-4648-1014-5

Filippini, M. and Greene, W. (2016) ‘Persistent and Transient Productive Inefficiency: A Maximum Simulated Likelihood Approach’, Journal of Productivity Analysis, Vol. 45, No. 2, pp. 187–196. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11123-015-0446-y

Flegg, A. T. and Allen, D.O. (2007) ‘Does Expansion Cause Congestion? The Case of the Older British Universities, 1994-2004’, Education Economics, Vol. 15, No. 1, pp. 75-102. https://doi.org/10.1080/09645290601133928

Flegg, A.T., Allen, D.O., Field, K. and Thurlow, T.W. (2004) ‘Measuring the Efficiency of British Universities: A Multi Period Data Envelopment Analysis’, Education Economics, Vol. 12, No. 3, pp. 231-249. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/0904529042000258590

Flégl, M., and Vltavská, K. (2013) ‘Efficiency at Faculties of Economics in the Czech Public Higher Education Institutions: Two Different Approaches’, International Education Studies, Vol. 6, No. 10, pp. 1-12. http://dx.doi.org/10.5539/ies.v6n10p1

Furková, A. (2013) ‘Alternative Approaches to Efficiency Evaluation of Higher Education Institutions’, Journal on Efficiency and Responsibility in Education and Science, Vol. 6, No. 3, pp. 167-178. https://doi.org/10.7160/eriesj.2013.060304

Gates, S. and Stone A. (1997) Understanding Productivity in Higher Education, Prepared for California Education Roundtable. Institute on Education and Training. RAND.

Gralka, S. (2018a) ‘Stochastic Frontier Analysis in Higher Education: A Systematic Review’, CEPIE Working Paper 05/18. Center of Public and International Economics. Technische Universität Dresden.

Gralka, S. (2018b) ‘Persistent Inefficiency in the Higher Education Sector: Evidence from Germany’, Education Economics, Vol. 26, No. 4, pp. 373–392. https://doi.org/10.1080/09645292.2017.1420754

Greene, W. (2005a) ‘Reconsidering heterogeneity in panel data estimators of the stochastic frontier model’, Journal of Econometrics, Vol. 126, No. 2, pp. 269-303. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jeconom.2004.05.003

Greene, W. (2005b) ‘Fixed random effects in stochastic frontier models’, Journal of Productivity Analysis, Vol. 23, No. 1, pp. 7-32. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11123-004-8545-1

Greene, W. (2008) ‘The econometric approach to efficiency analysis’, in Fried, H.O. Knox Lovell C.A. and Schmidt S.S. (eds.) The Measurement of Productive Efficiency and Productivity Growth. New York: Oxford University Press.

Guccio, C., Martorana, M.F. and Monaco, L. (2016) ‘Evaluating the Impact of the Bologna Process on the Efficiency Convergence of Italian Universities: A Non-Parametric Frontier Approach’, Journal of Productivity Analysis, Vol. 45, No. 3, pp. 275-298. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11123-015-0459-6

Hadri, K. (1999) ‘Estimation of a Doubly Heteroscedastic Stochastic Frontier Cost Function’, Journal of Business Economics and Statistics, Vol. 17, No. 3, pp. 359-363. https://doi.org/10.1007/10.1080/07350015.1999.10524824

Horne, J. and Hu, B. (2008) ‘Estimation of Cost Efficiency of Australian Universities’, Mathematics and Computing in Simulation, Vol. 78, No. 2-3, pp. 266-275. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.matcom.2008.01.018

Izadi, H., Johnes G., Oskrochi, R. and Crouchley, R. (2002) ‘Stochastic Frontier Estimation of a CES Cost Function: The Case of Higher Education in Britain’, Economics of Education Review, Vol. 21, No. 1, pp. 63-71. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0272-7757(00)00044-3

Johnes, G. and Johnes, J. (2009) ‘Higher Education Institutions’ Costs and Efficiency: Taking the Decomposition a Further Step’, Economics of Education Review, Vol. 28, No. 1, pp. 107-113. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.econedurev.2008.02.001

Johnes, G., Johnes, J. and Thanassoulis, E. (2008) ‘An Analysis of Costs in Institutions of Higher Education in England’, Studies in Higher Education, Vol. 33, No. 5, pp. 527-549. https://doi.org/10.1080/03075070802372901

Johnes, G., and Salas-Velasco, M. (2007) ‘The Determinants of Costs and Efficiencies Where Producers Are Heterogeneous: The Case of Spanish Universities’, Economics Bulletin, Vol. 4, No. 15, pp. 1–9.

Johnes, G. and Schwarzenberger A. (2011) ‘Differences in Cost Structure and the Evaluation of Efficiency: The Case of German Universities’, Education Economics, Vol. 19, No. 5, pp. 487-499. https://doi.org/10.1080/09645291003726442

Johnes, G. and Tone, K. (2016) ‘The Efficiency of Higher Education Institutions in England Revisited: Comparing Alternative Measures’, Tertiary Education and Management, Vol. 23, No. 3, pp. 191-205. https://doi.org/10.1080/13583883.2016.1203457

Johnes, J. (2006a) ‘Data Envelopment Analysis and its Application to the Measurement of Efficiency in Higher Education’, Economics of Education Review, Vol. 25, No. 3, pp. 273-288. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.econedurev.2005.02.005

Johnes, J. (2006b) ‘Measuring Teaching Efficiency in Higher Education: An Application of Data Envelopment Analysis to Economics Graduates from UK Universities 1993’, European Journal of Operational Research, Vol. 174, No. 1, pp. 443-456. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ejor.2005.02.044

Johnes, J. (2008) ‘Efficiency and Productivity Change in the English Higher Education Sector from 1996/97 to 2004/05’, The Manchester School, Vol. 76, No. 6, pp. 653-674. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9957.2008.01087.x

Johnes, J. (2004) Efficiency Measurement. in Geraint J. and Johnes J. (eds.) International Handbook on the Economics of Education, Northampton, MA: Edgar Elgar Publishing.

Johnes, G. and Johnes, J. (1993) ‘Measuring the Research Performance of UK Economics Departments: An Application of Data Envelopment Analysis’, Oxford Economic Papers, Vol. 45, No. 2, pp. 332-347. https://doi.org/10.1093/oxfordjournals.oep.a042095

Johnes, J. and Yu, L. (2008) ‘Measuring the Research Performance of Chinese Higher Education Institutions Using Data Envelopment Analysis’, China Economic Review, Vol. 19, No. 4, pp. 679-696. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chieco.2008.08.004

Kao, C. and Hung, H.-T. (2008) ‘Efficiency Analysis of University Departments: An Empirical Study’, Omega, Vol. 36, No. 4, pp. 653-664. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.omega.2006.02.003

Katharaki, M. and Katharakis, G. (2010) ‘A Comparative Assessment for Greek Universities’ Efficiency Using Quantitative Analysis’, International Journal of Educational Research, Vol. 49, No. 4-5, pp. 115-128. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijer.2010.11.001

Kempkes, G. and Pohl, C. (2010) ‘The Efficiency of German Universities. Some Evidence from Non-Parametric and Parametric Methods’, Applied Economics, Vol. 42, No. 16, pp. 2063-2079. https://doi.org/10.1080/00036840701765361

Kuah, C.T. and Wong, K.Y. (2011) ‘Efficiency Assessment of Universities through Data Envelopment Analysis’, Procedia Computer Science, Vol. 3, pp. 499-506. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.procs.2010.12.084

Kumbhakar, S.C. (1990) ‘Production frontiers, panel data and time-varying technical inefficiency’, Journal of Econometrics, Vol. 46, No. 1-2, pp. 201-212. https://doi.org/10.1016/0304-4076(90)90055-X

Kumbhakar, S.C. and Heshmati, A. (1995) ‘Efficiency Measurement in Swedish Dairy Farms: An Application of Rotating Panel Data’, American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Vol. 77, No. 3, pp. 660–674. https://doi.org/10.2307/1243233

Kumbhakar, S.C., Lien, G. and Hardaker, J.B. (2014) ‘Technical Efficiency in Competing Panel Data Models: A Study of Norwegian Grain Farming’, Journal of Productivity Analysis, Vol. 41, No. 2, pp. 321–337. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11123-012-0303-1

Kuo, J.-S. and Ho, Y.-C. (2008) ‘The Cost Efficiency Impact of the University Operation Fund in Taiwan’, Economics of Education Review, Vol. 27, No. 5, pp. 603-612. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.econedurev.2007.06.003

Laureti, T., Secondi, L. and Biggeri, L. (2014) ‘Measuring the Efficiency of Teaching Activities in Italian Universities: An Information Theoretic Approach’, Economics of Education Review, Vol. 42, pp. 147-164. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.econedurev.2014.07.001

Lee Y. H. and Schmidt, P. (1993) ‘A Production Frontier Model with Flexible Temporal Variation in Technical Efficiency, in Fried H.O. and Schmidt S.S. (eds.) The Measurement of Productive Efficiency: Techniques and Applications, Oxford U.K. pp. 237-255.

Lee, B.L. and Worthington, A.C. (2016) ‘A Network DEA Quantity and Quality-Oriented Production Model: An Application to Australian University Research Services’, Omega, Vol. 60, pp. 26-33. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.omega.2015.05.014

Marinho, A., Resende M. and Façanha L. O. (1997) ‘Brazilian Federal Universities: Relative Efficiency Evaluation and Data Envelopment Analysis’, Revista Brasileira de Economia, Vol. 51, No. 4, pp. 489-508.

Martín, E. (2006) ‘Efficiency and Quality in the Current Higher Education Context in Europe: An Application of the Data Envelopment Analysis Methodology to the Performance Assessment of the Departments at the University of Zaragoza’, Quality in Higher Education, Vol. 12, No. 1, pp. 57-79. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13538320600685172

Mensah, Y.M. and Werner, R. (2003) ‘Cost Efficiency and Financial Flexibility in Institutions of Higher Education’, Journal of Accounting and Public Policy, Vol. 22, No. 4, pp. 293-323. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0278-4254(03)00036-X

Mamun, S. A. K. (2011) ‘Are Public Universities of Bangladesh Cost Efficient? An Empirical Evidence’, South Asia Economic Journal, Vol. 12, Vol. 2, pp. 221–237. https://dx.doi.org/10.1177/139156141101200202

Meeusen, W. and van den Broeck, J. (1977) ‘Efficiency Estimation from Cobb-Douglas Production Functions with Composed Error’, International Economic Review, Vol. 18, No. 2, pp. 435-444.

Mikušová, P. (2017) ‘Measuring the Efficiency of the Czech Public Higher Education Institutions: An Application of DEA’, Journal on Efficiency and Responsibility in Education and Science, Vol. 10, No. 2, pp. 58-63. https://doi.org/10.7160/eriesj.2017.100204

Millot, B. (2015) ‘International Rankings: Universities vs. Higher Education Systems’, International Journal of Educational Development, Vol. 40, pp. 156-165. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijedudev.2014.10.004

Pitt, M.M. and Lee, L.-F. (1981) ‘The measurement and sources of technical inefficiency in the Indonesian weaving industry’, Journal of Development Economics, Vol. 9, No. 1, pp. 43-64. https://doi.org/10.1016/0304-3878(81)90004-3

Ray, S.C. (2004) Data Envelopment Analysis Theory and Techniques for Economics and Operations Research. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511606731

Rhaiem, M. (2017) ‘Measurement and Determinants of Academic Research Efficiency: A Systematic Review of the Evidence’, Scientometrics, Vol. 110, No. 2, pp. 581-615. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11192-016-2173-1

Robst, J. (2001) ‘Cost Efficiency in Public Higher Education Institutions’, The Journal of Higher Education, Vol. 72, No. 6, pp. 730–750. https://dx.doi.org/10.2307/2672901

Russell R. (2018) ‘Theoretical productivity indexes’, in Griell-Tajté, E.,. Knox Lovell C. A and Sickles R. (eds.) The Oxford Handbook for Productivity Analysis. New York, NY: Oxford Handbooks.

Salerno, C. (2003) ‘What we know about the efficiency of higher education institutions: the best evidence’, Unpublished Report.

Sav, G.T. (2011) ‘Cost Efficiencies and Rankings of Flagship Universities’, American Journal of Economics and Business Administration, Vol. 3, No. 4, pp. 596–603. https://doi.org/10.3844/ajebasp.2011.596.603

Sav, G.T. (2012a) ‘Efficiency Estimates and Rankings Employing Data Envelopment and Stochastic Frontier Analyses: Evaluating the Management of U.S. Public Colleges’, Information Management and Business Review, Vol. 4, No. 8, pp. 444–452. https://doi.org/10.22610/imbr.v4i8.999

Sav, G.T. (2012b) ‘Frontier and Envelopment Evaluations of University Graduation Efficiencies and Productivities: Elements for Performance Based Funding’, Problems and Perspectives in Management, Vol. 4, No. 4, pp. 71–79.

Sav, G.T. (2012c) ‘Cost Inefficiencies and Rankings of Ivy Universities: Stochastic Panel Estimates’, International Journal of Economics and Finance, Vol. 4, No. 3, pp. 3–12. https://dx.doi.org/10.5539/ijef.v4n3p3

Sav, G.T. (2012d) ‘Stochastic Cost Inefficiency Estimates and Rankings of Public and Private Research and Doctoral Granting Universities’, Journal of Knowledge Management, Economics, and Information Technology, Vol. 2, No. 3, pp. 1–20.

Sav, G.T. (2012e) ‘Managing Operating Efficiencies of Publicly Owned Universities: American University Stochastic Frontier Estimates Using Panel Data’, Advances in Management and Applied Economics, Vol. 2, No. 1, pp. 1–23.

Sav, G.T. (2012f) ‘Minority Serving College and University Cost Efficiencies, Vol. 8, No. 1, pp. 54–60.

Sav, G.T. (2012g) ‘For-Profit College Entry and Cost Efficiency: Stochastic Frontier Estimates versus Two-Year Public and Non-Profit Colleges’, International Business Research, Vol. 5, No. 3, pp. 26–32. https://dx.doi.org/10.5539/ibr.v5n3p26

Sav, G.T. (2012h) ‘Is the Production of Religious Knowledge Efficient? Managing Faith Related Postsecondary Institutions’, Journal of Knowledge Management, Economics, and Information Technology, Vol. 2, No. 1, pp. 1–13.

Sav, G.T. (2012i) ‘Stochastic Cost Frontier and Inefficiency Estimates of Public and Private Universities: Does Government Matter?’, International Advances in Economic Research, Vol. 18, No. 2, pp. 187–198. https://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11294-012-9353-4

Sav, G.T. (2012j) ‘Historically Black College and University Operating Cost Efficiencies: Stochastic Cost Estimates and Comparisons to Predominately White Institutions’, International Journal of Education Economics and Development, Vol. 3, No. 3, pp. 252–263. https://dx.doi.org/10.1504/IJEED.2012.049177

Sav, G.T. (2012k) ‘Does Faculty Tenure Improve Student Graduation Rates?’, Journal of Business Management and Applied Economics, Vol. 1, No. 5, pp. 1–19.

Sav, G.T. (2012l) ‘Female Faculty, Tenure, and Student Graduation Success: Efficiency Implications for University Funding’, International Journal of Business Management & Economic Research, Vol. 3, No. 6, pp. 633–640.

Sav, G.T. (2016) ‘Declining State Funding and Efficiency Effects on Public Higher Education: Government Really Does Matter’, International Advances in Economic Research, Vol. 22, No. 4, pp. 397–408. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11294-016-9602-z

Schmidt, P. and Sickles, R. (1984) ‘Production frontiers and panel data’, Journal of Business Economics and Statistics, Vol. 2, No. 4, pp. 367-374. https://dx.doi.org/10.2307/1391278

Selim, S. and Bursalioglu, S.A. (2013) ‘Analysis of the Determinants of University Efficiency in Turkey: Application of the Data Envelopment Analysis and Panel Tobit Model’, Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, Vol. 89, pp. 895-200. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sbspro.2013.08.952

Simar, L. and Wilson P. W. (2007) ‘Estimation and inference in two-stage semi-parametric models of production processes’, Journal of Econometrics, Vol. 136, No. 1, pp. 31–64. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jeconom.2005.07.009

Titus, M.A., Vamosiu, A. and McClure, K.R. (2016) ‘Are Public Master’s Institutions Cost Efficient? A Stochastic Frontier and Spatial Analysis’, Research in Higher Education, Vol. 58, No. 5, pp. 469–496. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11162-016-9434-y

Tsionas, E.G. and Kumbhakar, S.C. (2014) ‘Firm Heterogeneity, Persistent and Transient Technical Inefficiency: A Generalized True Random-Effects Model’, Journal of Applied Econometrics, Vol. 29, No. 1, pp. 110–132. https://doi.org/10.1002/jae.2300

Warning, S. (2004) ‘Performance Differences in German Higher Education: Empirical Analysis of Strategic Groups’, Review of Industrial Organization, Vol. 24, No. 4, pp. 393-408. http://dx.doi.org/10.1023/B:REIO.0000037538.48594.2c

Wolff, E.N., Baumol, W.J. and Saini, A.N. (2014) ‘A Comparative analysis of Education Costs and Outcomes: The United States vs. Other OECD Countries’, Economics of Education Review, Vol. 39, pp. 1-21. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.econedurev.2013.12.002

Wolszczak-Derlacz, J. (2017) ‘An evaluation and explanation of (in)efficiency in higher education institutions in Europe and the U.S. with the application of two-stage semi-parametric DEA’, Research Policy, Vol. 46, No. 9, pp. 1595-1605. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.respol.2017.07.010

Worthington, A. (2001) ‘An Empirical Survey of Frontier Efficiency Measurement Techniques in Education’, Education Economics, Vol. 9, No. 3, pp. 245-268.

Worthington, A. and Lee, B.L. (2008) ‘Efficiency, Technology and Productivity Change in Australian Universities, 1998-2003’, Economics of Education Review, Vol. 27, No. 3, pp. 285-298. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.econedurev.2006.09.012

Zoghbi, A.C., Rocha, F. and Mattos, E. (2013) ‘Education Production Efficiency: Evidence from Brazilian Universities’, Economic Modelling, Vol. 31, pp. 94-103. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.econmod.2012.11.018

Additional Files



How to Cite

Ferro, G. and D’Elia, V. (2020) ’Higher Education Efficiency Frontier Analysis: A Review of Variables to Consider ’, Journal on Efficiency and Responsibility in Education and Science, vol. 13, no. 3, pp. 140–153 https://doi.org/10.7160/eriesj.2020.130304.



Review study