Girls dominate admissions to leading universities

Girls dominate admissions to leading universities

Head of the admissions service UCAS says that there is now a significant gender gap for admissions to leading universities in the UK.

UCAS chief executive, Mary Curnock Cook, has urged action to increase the number of boys applying to go to university.


Latest statistics

Young women are taking advantage of access to higher education a third more often than boys, according to the latest UCAS statistics. In some areas of the UK, the difference in new university applications can be as high as 50%.

Ms Curnock Cook said there was a need for a "laser focus" on the issue in order to address the balance.

“My concern is in five or ten years’ time young men will be the new disadvantaged group. I remain astounded that there is not more political and societal focus on this," she commented.


Background issues

The gender gap affects pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds the most, with boys who receive free school meals or live in the poorest 20% of areas faring the worst.

Choosing the A-level subjects students need to achieve places at the country's most elite universities, rather than studying vocational qualifications, combined with a lack of "hand holding attention" are all problems according to Ms Curnock Cook.

“If you look at most independent schools and high performing secondary schools, many of them will have a person whose full time job is to support their sixth formers," she explained. “Then you go to an academy in a more deprived area and probably the school’s main focus is getting above the floor targets at GCSEs, including English and maths."

“Even if in a school you have a handful of people who would be capable to do well at A-level and progressing, they are probably not getting the hand holding attention than people from more affluent backgrounds are getting,” Ms Curnock Cook concluded. 

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