BUSINESS leaders have backed Scottish Government plans to increase the number of women on university courses traditionally dominated by men.

Liz Cameron, chief executive of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said the new focus on tackling the long-standing issue was "absolutely right".

"In a modern, dynamic and globally competitive marketplace, we have to ensure that we have the best talent driving our colleges and universities and the best people contributing to our businesses. This is not unique to the academic world - it applies to corporate Scotland too," she said.

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"Business needs to be at the centre of this change as customers of the product. We cannot, and must not, leave this entirely to one agency - the prize which could be gained is too big.

"We must utilise our talented, skilled workforce so that all individuals have the opportunity to contribute to Scotland's growth."

On Thursday, the Scottish Government said "gender segregation" in subjects such as physics, chemistry, engineering and computer science had to be tackled.

Institutions have also been asked to create a better gender balance in courses that are largely populated by females, such as nursing, teaching and social work.

Figures show 65 per cent of students studying science and engineering in Scotland are male, while 80 per cent of those taking computer science are men. Nearly 80 per cent taking education courses are women.

Michael Russell, the Education Secretary, said: "I want a renewed focus on reducing gender segregation in participation."