Men ‘left behind’ as women dominate university places


Scotland’s universities are becoming increasingly dominated by female students, raising fears about the lack of ambition shown by the country’s boys.

Statistics show the gap between the sexes is wider in Scotland than anywhere else in the UK.

For the forthcoming academic year, female 18-year-old Scots were 56 per cent more likely to apply for a university place than their male peers, according to the admissions body Ucas. Even among 11-year-olds, girls were significantly more likely to set their sights on a university education.

Stuart Waiton, a senior lecturer in the department of sociology at Abertay University, said that despite the gulf efforts from government had focused almost exclusively on increasing numbers of women in higher education.

A law passed by the Scottish government, despite objections from universities and colleges, will compel public bodies to strive for equal representation on boards and governing bodies. Meanwhile, there have been expensive and high-profile campaigns aimed at encouraging more women to pursue science-based subjects and careers.

Dr Waiton questioned a lack of attention paid to the “enormous” gender gap among students. “There appears to be little or no concern about this, no political campaigns or signs of outrage or calls that ‘something must be done’. Concern about gender disparity appears to be a one-way street,” he said, writing in The Times.

He criticised a “one-eyed recognition of disparities”, adding: “It is hard at times not to conclude that there is an extreme form of feminist ideology at work here, one that has been unquestioningly incorporated into political and public life.”

The difference in application rates between the sexes is 36 per cent in England, 40 per cent in Northern Ireland, 48 per cent in Wales, and 56 per cent in Scotland. Universities and colleges have been set a target that no course should have an “extreme” gender disparity of less than a quarter of males or females by 2030. Within 12 years, it is hoped men will make up at least 47.5 per cent of all undergraduates.

However, the latest figures show that the gap at universities is widening, with girls making up 58.7 per cent of all undergraduates in Scotland. According to the Higher Education Statistics Agency, there are 25,000 more female undergraduates than males at Scottish universities, and a higher proportion of women than any other UK nation.

A recent poll of 1,781 11 to 17-year-olds carried out on behalf of Universities Scotland found that 48 per cent of girls said they planned to go to university after they left school, compared with 39 per cent of boys. Alastair Sim, director of Universities Scotland, admitted that a “big gender gap is opening up that needs to be addressed”.


By            :               Daniel Sanderson

Date         :               March 5, 2018

Source     :               The Times

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