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In the Middle East, a region traditionally associated with male privilege, women’s participation in higher education has been increasing at far greater rates than that of men, to the point where currently over 70% of students in tertiary education in the United Arab Emirates are women. While research has been conducted on male participation rates in some OECD countries very little has been conducted in the Middle East despite even lower male higher education participation rates.

This paper covers the case of the United Arab Emirates and uses the literature on access as a framework to examine male participation in higher education from an economic and sociological perspective. It explores the reasons why so many Emirati men are failing to enroll in higher education. Key factors for the low male participation rates identified in this paper include the disconnect between educational effort and probable rewards, social and educational stratification and poor prior academic attainment of Emirati males.

The paper concludes by recommending further research into the causes of low male participation rates in higher education in the UAE, with particular attention to socioeconomic influences on student achievement.

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