§ Helen Southworth
To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how he will measure the60W effectiveness of universities in offering places to women and girls from lower income families equitably, according to their intellectual ability. 
§ Margaret Hodge
As we have made clear in Widening Participation in Higher Education, we believe that all applicants to higher education should be treated fairly and on the basis of their merit and potential. We are not aware of any evidence which suggests that women are generally treated inequitably in the admissions process. Women are well represented in higher education. The participation rate for women aged under 21 in 2000 was 37 per cent., compared with 30 per cent. for men aged under 21. Although the bottom three social groups are under-represented in higher education, women of all age groups account for 53 per cent. of acceptances into higher education from these groups.