A third more teenage women than men have secured degree places so far, the university admissions service says.
As of Friday morning, 133,280 18-year-old women from the UK had secured a university place in the UK, compared with 103,800 men of this age.
The difference is the largest recorded by Ucas at this stage of the admissions cycle.
The figures come as data shows about 6,600 fewer students have degree places compared with this point last year.
The gap of 36% between women and men is an increase from 35% the year before and 31% five years ago.
Across the UK, 27.3% of all young men are expected to go to university this year compared with 37.1% of women.
Ucas suggested one factor contributing to the gap is nursing – there is a 9% increase in UK 18-year-olds placed on nursing courses this year.
Women significantly outnumber men for these degrees, with around 28 women recruited for every man.
Previous figures have shown an overall drop in nursing applications and acceptances this year, but this has been driven by falls in older students rather than among 18-year-olds.
Dr Mark Corver, Ucas’s director of analysis and research, said: “More UK 18-year-olds will be starting university this autumn than ever before but large differences in who goes remain.
“Our research has shown that the difference between 18-year-old men and women entering university is now similar to that between the richest and poorest halves of the population.
“The statistics today show the difference between men and women slowly growing wider.”
As of Friday morning, 482,510 students have secured a university place – down about 1.4% on the same point last year, but higher than any other year at this point.
About 46,600 students have found their places through clearing, the largest number ever placed through the annual process at this stage, Ucas said.
Earlier this month top A-level grades increased for the first time in six years.
Some 26.6% of boys gained A* and A grades compared with 26.1% of girls, reversing a 0.3% gap last year.