University gender gap increases as a result of higher tuition fees

The Independent Commission on Fees (ICF), established in 2012 to investigate the impacts of increases to tuition fees, has found that since tuition fees were increased to £9000 per year, the gender gap amongst students attending university has also increased.

The ICF found that in the academic year 2014-2015, 331,210 women applied through UCAS for a university place, with 250,030 being accepted into university.  This is in stark contrast to the number of men applying; 247,080 men applied through UCAS in the same period, with 197,420 securing a university place.  34% of female school leavers went on to university in 2014-2015, compared to only almost 26% of men.

Crucially this gender gap is greatest in deprived areas where a female school leaver is up to 48% more likely to attend university than a male school leaver.  The report raised concerns that this could lead to entrenched low income and lack of opportunity amongst men in certain geographic areas.

There are uncertainties about why young men from disadvantaged areas are less likely to go to university, but it is thought that either changes to the loan repayments are more attractive to females than males or simply that young men from disadvantaged backgrounds are less likely to believe that the cost of a degree is worth it.

For the full ICF report, please see here.

Helen Robinson