Gender gap with a difference is the latest

Mention the term “gender gap” and the image that comes to mind immediately is of women struggling to catch up with men. But there is one area in Britain where it has come to mean the opposite.

British universities have expressed concern over the steady decline in the number of men applying for admissions compared to women. Many have set out specific targets to recruit more men to plug the growing gender-gap. “I am very worried about the gap between males and females. We are beginning to look at men as looking more like the disadvantaged group and women looking more like the advantaged group,” Mary Curnock Cook, chief of the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (Ucas), told MPs on the House of Commons business Select Committee.

As many as 80,000 more women have applied to universities this year than men — and the trend is likely to grow, the universities’ access watchdog, the Office for Fair Access (Offa) warned. Figures show that 70 per cent of law students and 90 per cent of nursing students are women. “It has important implications for our society going forward given that being a graduate is still key to certain careers,” said Prof. Les Ebdon, director of Offa.

Universities, which fail to address the issue, face huge fines — the so-called “nuclear option”, as Prof. Ebdon put it.

So, next time you hear the word “gender gap” don’t jump to the usual conclusion.