Concern voiced over growing gender divide in UK university courses

Written by: Emma Lee-Potter | Published:

Women now out-number men in almost two-thirds of university degree courses in the UK.

Data released by UCAS earlier this month shows that among students who started degree courses last autumn women outnumbered men in 112 out of 180 subjects.

Men were ahead in 65 subjects and there were equal numbers of men and women in three subjects.

Overall, nearly 67,000 more women than men were accepted for degree courses last year.

An earlier UCAS report (published in December) showed that the gender gap has widened to a record level, with UK women now 35 per cent more likely to go to university than men.

The biggest gender gap is in nursing, where there are more than 22,000 more women students than men. The next largest gender divides are psychology, social work, education and design.

A total of 17,390 women were accepted for education degree courses in 2015, compared to 3,035 men.

When it comes to subjects with more male students, the largest gap is in computer science. A total of 22,380 men embarked on computer science courses in 2015, compared to 3,580 women.

Computer science is followed by mechanical engineering, sports science, electrical engineering and economics, all of which have far fewer female than male students.

Mary Curnock Cook, chief executive of UCAS, expressed concern at the growing gender divide in higher education.

She said: “Girls are doing better throughout primary, secondary and higher education than boys; White boys are the most disadvantaged group in entry to higher education and the gap is getting bigger.

“The focus on White working class boys in the Higher Education Green Paper as part of the wider aim to widen university participation from all under-represented groups is a really important signal of change.

“But no amount of outreach by universities will work if boys are still too far behind when they come out of secondary education.”


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