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Key facts

56% of FT first degree students are women

Non-continuation rate 2.2 percentage points higher for men


There are more female than male UK-domiciled entrants to first degrees in England and women are more likely to achieve better degree outcomes. The most recent data suggests that the differences between the sexes are growing.

The numbers of both male and female students starting undergraduate degrees have increased over the past decade. However the increase in the number of female entrants (a 50,000 increase to 195,000 since 2006-07) has been greater than the increase in the male entrants (31,000 to 151,000).

In 2015-16 women comprised 56 per cent of the UK-domiciled full-time first degree population.

Women are less likely to leave at the end of their first year than men, and more likely to achieve a first or upper second class degree. In 2014-15, 8.6 per cent of male students did not continue to the second year of their undergraduate degree. This compares with only 6.4 per cent of female students.

Further, while non-continuation rates have increased for all students since 2011-12, the rate for male students has increased more than that for female students, widening the gap between the two sexes.

For nearly all levels of prior attainment, female students have on average better degree outcomes than male students. The rate at which women achieve first and upper second class degrees is typically between two and seven percentage points higher than men.

Page last updated 15 August 2017