After the release of A-level results last Thursday, Ucas, the UK’s university admission service, revealed that 58,000 more women than men enrolled as undergraduates. This means women will make up 57% of this year’s undergraduate intake.
More than 409,000 applicants have been accepted into universities and higher education, with more than 150,000 men compared to more than 200,000 women in the UK alone gaining the grades to place. Among UK based, 18 year olds, 25.1% of men and 34% of women have taken university places.
Mary Curnock Cook, chief executive of Ucas, said, “…young women are on average a third more likely to go on to higher education. Young women are powering much of the improvement in demand for higher education from disadvantaged groups…”
The increase in the number of women students has been partly filled by overseas and European students, and mature students. EU based applicants are up by 11% and the number of mature students in Scotland has jumped by 37%.
However, some have raised concerns over the widening gender gap within university admissions. Curnock Cook goes on to say, “I feel worried that so many more young women than young men are going to university, which in the long term is not going to be a good thing.”
Professor Alan Smithers from the University of Buckingham’s Centre for Education and Employment Research said, “Women are choosing to take higher education opportunities at the moment more than men, who are more often looking for the practical rather than academic, such as apprenticeships.”
The increase in female students and the record number of university intake comes as the government cap, which limited universities on the amount of students it could accept, was lifted. Universities can now enrol as many students as it deems fit.
The record number of students also comes despite the rise in tuition fees, maintenance grant cuts and increased student debts.