24 Aug Men ‘Out Performed’ at University
Female students are ahead of men in almost every measure of UK university achievement, according to a report from higher education researchers.
A Higher Education Policy Institute report shows that women are more likely to get places in the top universities and go on to get better grades. Women also outnumber men in high status subjects, such as law and medicine.
The institute’s director, Bahram Bekhradnia, says the cause of this gender gap remains uncertain. Women have been entering university in greater numbers than men in recent years – with the participation rate for young women standing at 49%, compared with 38% of young men.
The study disproves the notion that men dominate in the most highly-regarded subjects and institutions. It found that women are taking more places at prestigious Russell Group universities and on the most sought-after courses.
The only exception is for Oxford and Cambridge, where men and women are now level. There are also still some subject areas, such as courses related to maths, physics and technology, where men are in the majority. But the overall picture shows a consistent trend in women substantially outnumbering men.
There are more women on part-time and full-time courses and women account for a higher proportion of younger and mature students. In degree grades, women are more likely to gain “good degrees” – taking first class and upper seconds together – while men are more likely to gain lower seconds and thirds.
However male students still maintain a narrow lead in firsts – 13.9% to 13% of those who graduate. According to the report, women’s greater success in gaining university places and achieving better degrees extends across different social classes and ethnic groups.