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Gender gaps at UK universities revealed


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Recent reports show an alarming gender gap developing in UK universities, with females dominating undergraduate courses. 

Male students are being outnumbered by their female counterparts in almost all UK universities. In the last five years this gender gap has increased significantly, and in the 2010-2011 academic year the UK undergraduate population was split 45% male to 55% female. 

By degree subject, the most stark gender gap was found in veterinary science, which saw a 52% increase in female students and a 4% drop in male students. 

20 UK universities, including Liverpool Hope, Cumbria and Bath Spa have twice as many female fulltime undergraduate student as male, but even these figures seem balanced when compared to the male/female divides in institutes such as the Institute of Education, where 85.7% of undergraduates are female, Bishop Grosseteste University College Lincoln, which boasts 80.1% female students, and finally The Courtauld Institute of Art, where females account for 83.3% of the student body. Russell Group Universities currently show the most balanced male/female divide, particularly Oxford and Cambridge.

The subjects on offer at different institutes may influence gender divisions on campus. Imperial College London, which offers only courses in Science, Engingeering, Medicine and Business, is one of only two institutes in the UK where men make up two thirds of the undergraduate intake. In general men outnumber women on courses in Computer Science, Engineering, Technology, while courses such as Art and Design, Education, Medicine related subjects and Veterinary subjects are primarily female dominated. 

The University College and Admisson Service (UCAS) has recently released figures which show that there has been a 22, 000 drop in the number of males applying to university. Explanations of why this gender gap has developed have suggested it could be rooted early in the education process. Girls tend to outperform boys in school, which creates an attainment pattern meaning girls are more likely to stay on at sixth form, and therefore apply to university, while boys may choose, or be directed towards, more vocational paths. 

Degree choice may also be influenced from early on in life, with boys and girls steered toward subjects assigned traditionally for their gender, which could account for why there is a larger balance of males in science subjects or those with vocational links, and more females art and design and education subjects.

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