In this paper, the short-cut method is used to estimate perceived rates of financial returns to higher education in the Czech Republic and Poland and a modified version of the method is used to fit the current English system of deferred tuition fees. First year university students were asked to estimate their earnings with and without a university degree at two points in time. The findings show that students perceive higher education to be a profitable investment and that rates of return vary by gender as well as by country and a place of study. It is concluded that perceptions are a useful proxy indicator for the demand for higher education at any particular point in time, at least in vocationally oriented subjects such as economics or business studies. Therefore policy makers would be well advised to track changes in such perceptions of not only university students, but also of high school leavers
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