Gender gap in university applications hits record level

More young women than men have applied to university this year as indicated by figures released by UCAS. The latest data shows that 94,140 more women than men applied to university, hitting a record high.

“This year we have 70% females which is uncommon in a typically male dominated course.”

The shortfall of UK male applicants stood at 81,000, with women from the UK 36% more likely to apply for higher education.

A first year Architecture student at the University of Nottingham has noticed the gender gap in her lectures, stating: “This year we have 70% females which is uncommon in a typically male dominated course”.

Yet in traditionally predominantly male subjects there are still more boys enrolled. A first year Physics student, said: “it’s what I expected when I applied for Physics; far more boys than girls”.

The rate of applications from 18 year olds has reached record levels and applications from those in less advantaged areas of England were 5% up on last year.

“[It is] a tragic waste of talent with a significant economic cost”

However, the statistics show a disparity in applications from those from poorer backgrounds; less advantaged women are 58% more likely to apply to university than their male counterparts.

Dr Lee Elliot Major, the Chief Executive of The Sutton Trust, an organisation which aims to address educational inequality, called this “a tragic waste of talent with a significant economic cost”. The overall number of applications to study in the UK at undergraduate level is 0.2% higher than last year but the number of solely UK applicants fell by 0.3% to 495,940.

However this has been explained by Mary Curnock Cook, the Chief Executive of UCAS, as a consequence of a 2.2% fall in the total number of 18 year olds in the UK and not a fall in young people’s desire to pursue studying at university.

There are now 66,840 more women than men on university courses. When compared to 34,035 in 2007, this highlights an almost doubling of the gender gap in the course of eight years. Universities are being urged to address this issue while simultaneously encouraging women to apply to degree courses that have been more historically associated with men.

Nikou Asgari

Image: Abd Allah Foteih via flickr

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