Category Archives: education

Sex Ratio at UK Universities – It’s Worse Than I Thought

Even after 5 years of crawling around this data I’m still turning over new stones. I thought I knew about the sex ratio in UK higher education institutions. But in the past I have only considered the sex ratio irrespective of the country of origin of the students. UK universities take a large proportion of their students from overseas, both EU and non-EU – especially at postgraduate level. This affects the overall sex ratio because the sex ratio of overseas students tends to be closer to parity than that of UK students.

So, the question arises: if attention is confined to UK students – that is, students who were resident in the UK prior to becoming a student – what is the sex ratio then?

The data is available from the Higher Education Statistics Authority, dataset Table 10a: HE qualifications obtained by location of HE provider, sex, level of qualification obtained, mode of study and domicile 2011/12 to 2015/16.

The Tables below give the percentage by which women outnumber men (defined as 100*(w-m)/m). Numbers for full time and part time students have been combined. Postgraduate numbers are the sum of taught and ‘by research’ courses. The “all awards” category includes foundational degrees, HNC, HND and PGCE, as well as first degrees and postgraduates.

Table 1: UK students at HE Institutes in England

Award Excess of Women
2015 2016
Postgraduate 52.5% 50.0%
First Degree 36.6% 38.7%
All Awards 42.8% 42.0%

Table 2: UK students at HE Institutes in Wales

Award Excess of Women
2015 2016
Postgraduate 40.2% 40.9%
First Degree 37.2% 28.7%
All Awards 32.5% 27.1%

Table 3: UK students at HE Institutes in Scotland

Award Excess of Women
2015 2016
Postgraduate 47.4% 48.9%
First Degree 44.3% 44.0%
All Awards 41.4% 42.1%

Table 4: UK students at HE Institutes in Northern Ireland

Award Excess of Women
2015 2016
Postgraduate 57.0% 67.0%
First Degree 35.7% 36.2%
All Awards 44.5% 48.8%