Why do women get more university places?

TIME:2016-05-12 16:00VIEW:

Why are women getting so many more university places than men?

This isn't just a slight difference. Women in the UK are now 35% more likely than men to go to university and the gap is widening every year.

A baby girl born in 2016 will be 75% more likely to go to university than a boy, if current trends continue.

The Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) has published research examining this increasingly polarised gender divide.

And as university remains the gateway to better-paid, more secure jobs, Mary Curnock Cook, head of the Ucas university admissions service, warns that being male could be a new form of disadvantage.

"On current trends, the gap between rich and poor will be eclipsed by the gap between males and females within a decade," she writes in an introduction to the report.

And she says while there is much focus on social mobility and geographical differences, there is a collective blind spot on the underachievement of young men.
 

So what is causing such a pattern?

The likelihood of going to university is shaped by results in primary and secondary school - and girls are now outperforming boys at every stage.

But the report demolishes one long-held theory - that this success for girls was triggered by the switch from O-levels to GCSEs in the late 1980s in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

There have been claims that the gladiatorial, all-or-nothing exam worked in favour of boys, and that the greater sustained effort of coursework favoured girls.

And this theory seemed to fit with when women overtook men in university places in the early 1990s.

 

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