More girls, less guys attending university, study shows

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By Wojtek Dabrowski

More young women are enrolling in Canadian universities while the number of young men doing the same is dropping, suggests a recent Statistics Canada study.

The study reports that the number of full-time female undergraduate students aged 18-24 in the 1999-2000 academic year was up 9.8 per cent from 1992-1993. By contrast, the number of men aged 18-24 dropped by 2.6 per cent over the same time.

Overall, full-time university enrolment for the 18-24 age group climbed slightly over the same time, up 4.1 per cent from 1992-1993.

Women in the same age group accounted for 57.1 per cent of all full-time undergraduate students, up from 54.2 per cent in 1992-1993.

Ryerson’s enrolment numbers reflected this trend. In 1992, women aged 18-24 enrolled in programs made up only 51.4 per cent of the student body. By the fall of 1999, that percentage rose modestly to 53 per cent.

“I think you’ll find that’s been true across the university sector,” said Ryerson registrar Keith Alnwick. “This has been on ongoing process over the last 20 years.” He said the increase in the number of female student is in part due to the fact that women are enrolling in “non-traditional” programs.

“Twenty years ago, there were no women in engineering,” he said. “We’re seeing women go into a much broader range of programs than we’ve had before.”

Also, Ryerson offers a large group of programs usually primarily studied by women, such as early childhood education, nursing and social work.

“Ryerson certainly has a strong core which is over represented with females,” said Alnwick.

The Statistics Canada study also found that fewer people in the 25-44 age group are beginning full-time undergraduate studies. The decline from 1992-1993 to 1999-2000 was 11.7 per cent.

The part-time enrolment numbers for the same category slid even further, down 29.9 per cent.

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