Education news

Gender gap widens as 30,000 more women than men head for university

Teenage girls are now more than a third more likely to go to university than boys, according to new figures

TEENAGE girls are now more than a third more likely to go to university than boys, according to new figures, as the gap between the sexes reached record levels.

In total, about 30,000 more women than men are set to start degree courses this autumn, Ucas data shows.

The figures come as fresh data published by the university admissions service showed that around 6,600 fewer students overall have been placed on courses this year, compared with the same point last year.

The statistics show that as of Friday morning, 133,280 UK 18-year-old women had secured a university place, compared with 103,800 UK men of this age.

This gap - of nearly 30,000 students - is the largest difference recorded at this point of the admissions cycle, Ucas said.

Its analysis shows that across the UK, 27.3 per cent of all young men are expected to go to university this year, compared with 37.1 per cent of young women.

It means that as of this point - just over a week after A-levels were published - 18-year-old women are 36 per cent more likely to start degree courses this autumn than their male peers of the same age.

Last year they were 35 per cent more likely to enter higher education and five years ago they were 31 per cent more likely.

Ucas suggests that one factor contributing to the gender difference is nursing, with a 9 per cent increase in UK 18-year-olds placed on nursing courses this year.

Women significantly outnumber men for these degrees, with around 28 women recruited for every man.

Previous figures have shown an overall drop in nursing applications and acceptances this year, this has been driven by falls in older students rather than among 18-year-olds.

Dr Mark Corver, Ucas' director of analysis and research, said: "More UK 18-year-olds will be starting university this autumn than ever before but large differences in who goes remain.

"Our research has shown that the difference between 18-year-old men and women entering university is now similar to that between the richest and poorest halves of the population.

"The statistics today show the difference between men and women slowly growing wider."

Overall, the latest snapshot shows that as of Friday morning, 482,510 students have secured a university place, down about 1.4% on the same point last year, but higher than any other year at this point.

Around 46,600 students have found their places through clearing, the largest number ever placed through the annual process at this point, Ucas said.

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