A record 22,000 more women than men were offered places on full-time degree courses in the UK for the current year, according to the latest figures.
A total of 198,198 women were accepted on courses in 2003, a rise of 2.3 per cent over 2002, according to data released this week by the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service. The number of men accepted rose by 1 per cent to 176,109.
Last year, there was also a rise in the number of female applicants, as opposed to acceptances, which was up 4.1 per cent, to 254,092. The number of male applicants increased 2.3 per cent to 222,375. The gap between the number of female and male applicants stood at more than 31,700.
In total, 374,307 applications were accepted, an increase of 1.7 per cent over the previous year. There were 476,467 applicants, a rise of more than 3.3 per cent. The number of applicants and acceptances rose in all age groups. The biggest jump was among the over-25s - up 6.8 per cent to 57,551.
Northern Irish institutions recorded the biggest increase in the number of students they accepted, with a rise of 3.6 per cent, to 9,458. Scottish institutions saw a rise of 3.4 per cent to 35,413, English institutions saw a rise of 1.5 per cent to 309,171 and Welsh universities a 0.1 per cent rise to 20,505.
The number of English applicants accepted to non-tuition fee charging Scottish universities rose by 7.1 per cent to 3,897, while the number of students from Scotland accepted to English institutions, charging £1,125 a year, dropped by 3.6 per cent to 1,989.
Wales was the only nation to record a fall in the number of home applicants accepted, a drop of 0.5 per cent to 9,726.
Media studies continues to grow in popularity, with the number of accepted applications up 15.8 per cent. Nursing was up 15.2 per cent, while education, film studies, photography and architecture all rose by more than 10 per cent.
The bursting of the technology bubble is reflected in further sharp drops in applications for many computer-related subjects.
Acceptances to higher national diplomas fell 20.2 per cent, but there has been a significant rise in the number of applications and acceptances to foundation degrees.