INSPIRING young men, particularly those in the black minitority ethnic community, to apply for university is key for Gloucester’s teachers and youth leaders.
That is the message after a report by Gloucestershire-based universities admissions service Ucas showed boys are becoming “a disadvantaged group” with far more women going to university.
The number of girls seeking a university place this year is more than a third larger than that of boys.
Youth leader Delroy Ellis from Increase the Peace said: “I work with children in choosing their subjects that they want to study at university level, but I think fees put a lot of people off going, especially young men.
“Taking out a loan can add great pressure. It is also about getting boys motivated and inspired, especially young black boys.
“Sometimes they follow their peers in not going to university. Some boys also find it hard to choose the right degree subjects.”
Philip Rush, head teacher at St Peter’s High School in Stroud Road, said it was a role reversal from the past.
“The figures released are very interesting,” he said.
“However at our school we have not noticed a difference, we seem to have a balance of both boys and girls applying and going to universities. Figures do fluctuate from time to time but here it is pretty even.
“Last year one of our boy pupils got into London School of Economics which is a very hard course, while a girl pupil got into a college at Oxford. It is known that girls definitely do better in exams but this does not stop boys from going to universities.
“When I was younger it was the other way round and more boys went and girls were left behind. But we do not want it to tilt completely to the other side, we want to keep it even.”
Mary Curnock Cook, chief executive of the Ucas, said the gender divide could soon become more of a problem than the number of applicants from poorer backgrounds.
She said: “Amid encouraging patterns of demand from mature and disadvantaged students, there remains a stubborn gap between male and female applicants which, on current trends, could eclipse the gap between rich and poor within a decade.
“Young men are becoming a disadvantaged group in terms of going to university and this under-performance needs urgent focus across the education sector.”
Ucas said that of the 580,000 people who applied for places at British universities this year around 333,700 of them were women – almost 58 per cent. That figure is up from 55 per cent in 2010-2011.