The entry rate for 18-year-old women in the UK was 36.8% in 2016, 9.6% points higher than for men (at 27.2%), UCAS has reported. It is the largest points difference recorded.
This means that young women were 35% more likely to enter higher education than men in 2016.
The difference in 18-year-old entry rates between men and women equates to 37,000 fewer 18-year-old men entering higher education this year than would be the case if men had the same entry rate as women.
The difference in entry rates between men and women widens by a further 1.5% when entry at ages 18 and 19 are considered together.
Young women are more likely to enter all types of higher education provider than young men, and have become increasingly more likely relative to men to enter higher tariff providers. In 2006, they were 18% more likely to enter higher tariff providers than men, and were 32 per cent more likely than men to enter higher tariff providers in 2016.
While the entry rate for white applicants increased and it remained lower for other ethnic groups, white working-class boys were the last likely to go to university.
UCAS' chief executive, Mary Curnock Cook, said: "When she entered Downing Street in July, the Prime Minister pointed out that white working-class boys are the least likely to go to university.
"Although the number of students from disadvantaged backgrounds entering higher education has reached record levels again this year, there are early signals that the good progress made in recent years may be slowing down."
“Our report underlines this point, showing that nearly three quarters of the group least likely to enter university are men, most are from lower income families, and nine out of ten are in the White ethnic group.
"Although the number of students from disadvantaged backgrounds entering higher education has reached record levels again this year, there are early signals that the good progress made in recent years may be slowing down.
"The best way to get on track to better progress is to focus efforts on improving GCSE outcomes for all children which we know is the primary driver of increased entry rates to higher education."