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Boys 'less keen to be students'

London, Aug 28: Boys are not as keen to go to university as girls, a survey suggests.

About three-quarters (76%) of girls want to go to university compared with about two thirds of boys (67%), a poll of 2,400 11 to 16-year-olds suggested.

The gap of nine percentage points is double the one that emerged in a survey of pupils in England and Wales in 2006.

Educational charity the Sutton Trust, which commissioned the poll, said ways of raising male aspiration were needed and an aptitude test might be used.

The survey of state school pupils also suggested girls were more certain of their intentions than boys.

More cynical
Some 41% of girls said they were very likely to go to university compared with 33% of boys.

The same poll also suggested boys were more cynical than girls about what factors might help them get on in life.

They were more likely to list "knowing the right people" and "which secondary school you go to" than girls.

Female respondents, by contrast, listed "aiming to be the best you can" and "being able to read and write well".

Boys' underachievement in schools has been a source of concern for teachers and ministers.

Girls are more likely to get the benchmark five good GCSEs than boys and more girls do better at A-level.

Outreach schemes
Sutton Trust chairman Sir Peter Lampl said: "We are looking for new ways to raise the attainment and aspirations of boys, particularly those from non-privileged backgrounds, so that more of them decide to go on to higher education and can therefore access the excellent opportunities beyond.

"As well as innovative outreach schemes, we are also considering the potential benefits of an aptitude test for university admissions, to be used alongside A-levels which traditionally favour girls."

Earlier this year figures showing 313,259 more women than men had applied to university since 1998, sparked renewed concerns about a growing gender gap in higher education.

University College London provost Malcolm Grant said the trend would lead to a big fall in the number of university-educated men.

Universities were seeing the results of male educational under-achievement at earlier ages, he added.

BBC News
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