A-level results show that gap between best-performing girls and boys has narrowed

A-level results show that gap between best-performing girls and boys has narrowed

Thousands of young people received their A-Level results today, with a record number of students earning a place at university. The gap between top-performing girls and boys also decreased for the first time in five years.

Almost 80 per cent of girls achieved grades A* to C at A-Level, compared to 75 per cent of boys. The proportion of A* and A grades dipped down from last year by 0.1 per cent to 25.8 per cent, while the overall pass rate remained the same at 98.1 per cent.

University administrations body UCAS revealed that a record 424,000 applicants, three per cent up from 2015, secured a place at university. The figures see 27,400 more young women than men offered a spot at university.

Separate admissions data from UCAS indicates that at least 90,000 more women than men in the UK applied to studied at university this year, while the number of applications from men has decreased for the first time since 2012. The figures also show that there are currently more women than men in almost two-thirds of degree subjects in the UK and, women are now 35 per cent more likely to go to university than men.

UCAS chief executive Mary Curnock Cook finds this trend to be worrying, as the gap between female and male students attending university seemingly continues to expand. She said: “I think this is an issue that needs addressing. If it was the other way round there would be an absolute outcry – if young women were being disadvantaged in education – and I think it needs a whole system effort to find out the reasons and look at some of the solutions that are needed.”

This year also saw an increase in the uptake of computing among students, with a 16 per cent rise on last year’s figures. A total of 6,242 students studied computing A-levels, up 859 from 2015, while the numbers for students studying ICT A-levels decreased by 387 from the previous year. A total of 3,124 female students took up ICT A-levels in 2016. In addition to the lower uptake, ICT A-level results took a hit with a drop in the number of students achieving A* to C grades. Computing students, by comparison, achieved slightly better grades over last year’s results.

The number of female students studying A-level computing rose from 456 in 2015 to 609 this year, there were still eight times more males taking the subject. A higher percentage of females also achieved A* to C grades in both computing and ICT than males, with 5.3 per cent of girls attaining an A* grade in computing, compared to 2.4 per cent of boys.

While there has been an increase in the number of females choosing to study A-level computing, the statistics don’t tally with the percentage of women entering the tech sector, which stands at around 16 per cent.

The amount of students studying STEM subjects at A-Level remained stable, and mathematics remained the most popular subject to take at A-Level, while the uptake for modern languages such as Spanish and French saw a decline.

Minister of State for School Standards Nick Gibb congratulated the students, saying that it is encouraging to see a record amount of applicants securing a place at UK universities, as well as a higher number of entrants from disadvantaged backgrounds.

He said: “With a growing jobs market, the choice of a high quality apprenticeship, university or college place on offer, I’m confident that with hard work and commitment, whatever option they pursue they will go on to fulfil their potential. We want to make our country a place where there is no limit on anyone’s ambition or what they can achieve.”


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– Women lead one in six universities of world’s top 200, according to Times Higher Education

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