Men will soon become the most under-represented group in the country in applications to UK universities, the head of UCAS has predicted.
Figures show that the gap between applications from women and men is rising sharply.
87,000 more women than men applied before the 15th, increasing the gap by 7,000 compared with January 2013. Women are now a third more likely than men to opt to go to university.
York has seen a consistent fall in the male undergraduate applications, from 45 per cent in 2007/8 to just 41 per cent now – equivalent to 9,509 students out of a total 23,353.
“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,” said Dr Mary Curnock Cook, chief executive of UCAS. Figures show that those from poorer families twice as likely to apply as a decade ago.
“Young men are becoming a disadvantaged group in terms of going to university and this underperformance needs urgent focus across the education sector.
“At York, the proportion of male applicants has decreased slightly over the past few years,” said David Garner, a spokesman for the University of York.
“We believe this is more to do with changes in demand for particular programmes than an effect of any national decline in male applicants.”
In the current cycle, it is believed that York will buck the national trend, with an increase in the numbers of men applying.
Mr Garner added: “There is considerable debate about underachievement by boys in schools and this is something we think should be addressed.”
One leading academic has suggested the remedy might be to offer university places to men on lower A-level grades.
“The solution put forward by some universities to combat disadvantage was to offer pupils from state schools positions on lower grades than independent schools,” said Professor Alan Smithers, director of the Centre for Education and Employment at Buckingham University. “Perhaps universities should now admit men on lower grades.”
He added: “One thing is becoming clear – the advantage conferred by independent schools is now less than the advantage obtained by being a female.”
He continued to say that better results, new teaching and nursing courses are attracting women to tertiary education, while men are more likely to take up apprenticeships and jobs.
The overall number of applicants at York has risen, however the number of applicants to Arts subjects has fallen. The University has been unable to release figures mid-cycle due to UCAS regulations.
The figure for girls, though, is the highest ever with 333,700 applications compared with 331,800 in 2011. The number of boys applying is 246,300, down from 251,730 in 2011.
Kallum Taylor, YUSU President, commented: “If we want to avoid moving from one inequality to the complete opposite, smart policy needs to understand and address the decline in male applications.
“The reasons behind this kind of thing, as is the case with applicants from middle-to-low income backgrounds, start way before they start thinking about which University they apply for.”