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New HEPI report – Boys to Men: The underachievement of young men in higher education – and how to start tackling it

Hillman N.; Robinson N. Boys to Men: The underachievement of young men in higher education – and how to start tackling it.  Higher Education Policy Institute. Oxuniprint, Oxford 2016.ISBN: 978-1-908240-14-9. Pages: 64

Reports on underachievement of young men in higher education. Describes the trends in numbers of male and female students attending universities and the changes between the 1920s and 2011. Notes that, according to UCAS, by 2015, an 18-year old woman was 35% more likely to enter higher education than an 18-year old man - this means 36,000 fewer 18-year old men entered higher education than if the rates for men and women had been equal - and in 2014/15, 56% of all students in the UK were female. Highlights gender disparities among undergraduates and postgraduates according to discipline, and by educational institution. Finds that over 80% of higher education institutions have more female than male students (123 institutions versus 26). Discusses the underperformance of boys in higher education and looks at how it varies according to ethnicity and background. Looks at the attainment and destinations of male graduates. Considers some of the causes of relatively poor performance of men in higher education. Explains that the number of women studying for degrees increased when careers such as nursing and teaching moved from diploma to degree level qualifications. Recommends action to tackle the problem of underachievement including: widening participation with funding for initiatives aimed at engaging young men, particularly disadvantaged individuals, with higher education; a ‘Take Our Sons To University Day’; and more institutions setting targets for male recruitment.

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