Can conditional grants attract better students? Evidence from Chinese teachers’ colleges
This paper examines whether a conditional grant program for teacher trainees helped attract better students to teaching majors in Chinese universities. The Free Education for Future Teachers program implemented in top teachers’ colleges provides tuition exemption and a generous stipend package to students in teaching majors under the condition that the recipients teach in their home provinces after graduation. By comparing score changes between teaching and nonteaching (“regular”) majors and between program colleges and nonprogram teachers’ colleges, we find that this grant program helps attract students scoring 0.4–0.5 percentiles higher in the score distribution to teaching majors. Further analysis shows that the program impact is stronger in places where more students are likely to be credit-constrained. Our results suggest that conditional grants targeting university-based teacher training programs are effective in improving the selection of teachers.