The number of applications to study in Higher Education in the United Kingdom increased by 4% compared to last year, figures released by UCAS reveal.
The increase saw 5% of 18 year olds from England applying through UCAS to study on Higher Education courses. The statistics also show that the number of females applying to university is significantly higher than males.
The gender divide in education is an increasing issue. This year, statistics provided by UCAS highlighted that 87,000 more women than men applied to study at a Higher Education level, averaging two female applicants for every male applicant.
Mary Curnock Cook OBE, Chief Executive of UCAS, said: “Young men are becoming a disadvantaged group in terms of going to university and this underperformance needs urgent focus across the education sector.”
The data released by the organising body also indicated that the gender gap is particularly wide among lower income households. Ms. Cook said that “on current trends, [the gender divide was so extreme that it] could eclipse the gap between rich and poor within a decade.”
The university think tank Million+ welcomed the rise in applications, which shows that younger students from more disadvantaged backgrounds are nearly twice as likely to apply to university than a decade ago.
Pam Tatlow, Chief Executive of Million+ said: “Rising applications from those from more disadvantaged backgrounds is good news for the economy and will deliver life-transforming opportunities for thousands of young people. However, there is still a long way to go to close the participation gap, significant regional variations and a growing gender divide, so this is not a ‘job done’.”
Speaking to Concrete in November, the Business Secretary Vince Cable justifed the government’s raise of the tuitons fees cap partly on the basis that there had been no adverse affect on applicant numbers.
In response to a Freedom of Information request made by Concrete, the University of East Anglia has refused to disclose the number of applications the University has received from prospective students seeking to study at UEA in September 2014. The University believe that as UEA will not finish recruiting in the current cycle until the start of the next academic year, the release of “incomplete information” could unwittingly deter applicants.
A spokesperson for the University revealed that undergraduate applications for the academic year beginning in September 2013 were down on the previous year. This was claimed to be the result of higher entry requirements for a number of courses. Despite this, those accepted to study at UEA for the current academic year exceeded plans as a result of “high calibre” students choosing UEA through clearing.