UK Admissions Stats Show Gains for Women, Minorities

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The UK higher education admissions service UCAS has released this autumn’s university attendance statistics, and among other findings, the rate at which women are being accepted to university in the United Kingdom is outpacing that of men.

Women are 35% more likely to go to university than men are, according to UCAS. In disadvantaged areas, women are 50% more likely to attend.

People of color are also more likely to go on to higher education than white Britons. 28% of white UK students go to university compared to 58% of Chinese, 41% of (Southeast) Asians, 37% of black students, and 32% of those of mixed race heritage.

More students were admitted across the board this year, with 532,300 acceptances, an all-time record and an increase of 3.1% from last year, according to Richard Garner of the Independent. This increase is due to systemic changes including the removal of limitations on the number of students at universities. This has led to more competition between universities for students and has allowed students to be more selective and ambitious in their applications, reports the Belfast Telegraph.

Mary Curnock Cook, chief executive of UCAS, said:

The high number of students receiving a full set of five offers suggests that potential applicants for 2017 could afford to be even more ambitious in at least some of their applications.

According to Sean Coughlan of the BBC, 26% of students earned places at the top universities with A Levels below ABB, showing that increasing acceptances have affected the criteria for admission.

Despite these nationwide increases, regional differences were extreme, with London youth 40% more likely to go to university than those in the southwest or northeast.

Altogether, those most likely to go to college are women, those in London, the well-off, and people of color. Poor white men are now least likely to attend.

Universities Minister Jo Johnson said:

It’s welcome news that record numbers of students secured places this year, including record numbers from disadvantaged backgrounds. Students from disadvantaged backgrounds are now almost a third more likely to enter higher education than five years ago, but we have much more work to do.

Some have raised concerns with this trend and have urged universities to reach out to white men to correct the imbalance. One advocate is Cook, the chief executive of UCAS, reports Alison Kershaw of the Mirror. According to the service’s figures for this autumn, for men to be recruited at the same rate as women, more than 36,000 more would have had to go to university this year. In recent statements, she has encouraged universities to encourage white men to attend in an attempt to close the nation’s gap between rich and poor.

These statistics reflect only those who begin university and not those who complete degrees.