9 Aug 2015

UK University Gender Gap Growing, Warns Admissions Chief

By Mike Buchanan: Our thanks to Kevin for this. We covered the topic of education in our general election manifesto (pp 15-17).
The start of the article:
A worrying gender gap has emerged in higher education, with girls dominating admissions to leading universities, the head of the admissions service has warned.
Urgent action is needed to boost the number of boys applying to university to stop them becoming a “disadvantaged” minority, according to Mary Curnock Cook, the Ucas chief executive.
Young women are on average a third more likely to progress to higher education, Ucas statistics show. In some parts of the country, that number increases to 50 per cent.
Speaking to The Telegraph, Ms Curnock Cook said: It means there is something like 32,000 young men missing from university.”
Her comments come just days before hundreds of thousands of teenagers are due to collect their A-level results on Thursday this week. Competition for places at top universities is expected to be especially fierce this year, with record numbers of applicants to Oxford, Cambridge and other top 10 institutions.
Ms Curnock Cook called for a “laser focus” on the issue of fewer boys going to university than girls.
She said: My concern is in five or ten years’ time young men will be the new disadvantaged group. I remain astounded that there is not more political and societal focus on this.”
Let’s focus on the final sentence. Ms Curnock Cook remains ‘astounded that there is not more political and societal focus on this’, Really? Either she’s lying, or she’s utterly ignorant about something she should be deeply knowledgeable about. It’s long been known boys have been disadvantaged relative to girls since the replacement of O Levels by GCSEs in 1987/8, and William Collins published a remarkable blog piece on the matter – here.
We wrote a letter (with a FoI request) to Nicky Morgan, Education Secretary (and Minister for Women and Equalities, importantly in this context) – here – and we received a cynically evasive response – here. It contained this paragraph:

The Department does not fund any initiatives that just focus on addressing boys’ under-achievement. The Government’s education reforms are designed to ensure that all children, whatever their gender, have the opportunity to attain well at school.
The under-achievement of boys in education isn’t a phenomenon anyone concerned with the education system should be ‘astounded’ about. It’s been the direct and inevitable consequence of the education system for almost 30 years, and the Conservative government is  as guilty as its Labour predecessors in driving this anti-male anti-meritocratic social engineering initiative.


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