Education & Family

Record numbers of students fill university places early

Girl and boy with results
Image caption Students with top grades are able to trade up to more popular courses

Record numbers of students have been accepted into UK universities within 24 hours of receiving their A-level results, according to the latest figures from the admissions body Ucas.

By midnight on Thursday, 401,540 applicants had been accepted for undergraduate courses, 9% up on the same time in 2012.

This is also higher than 2011, the year before tuition fees trebled to £9,000.

Fewer students have entered the Ucas clearing process than last year.

The latest figures from Ucas, published a day after students in England, Wales and Northern Ireland received their A-level results, show fewer have entered clearing than last year - 153,070, down almost 9,000 on 2012.

'Powerful' results

Almost 30,000 courses were advertised on the clearing website where Ucas matches students without places to degree courses that are not yet full.

Top universities with vacant places have been competing for students with better grades than anticipated.

Many universities that do not always enter clearing have done so this year.

A spokesman for the Russell Group, which represents 24 leading universities, said all but seven had been in clearing.

Government reforms this year mean universities in England can take as many students as they like with ABB grades or above.

Last year the threshold was higher, at AAB, which left some top universities with empty places.

Students were able to begin making choices through the clearing website from 17:00 BST on Thursday.

Some universities were finding their spare places were being filled very quickly.

The Russell Group spokesman said it was not yet clear how much longer Russell Group universities would remain in undergraduate clearing this year and that Oxford, Cambridge, University College London, Imperial, Edinburgh, Bristol and the London School of Economics had not entered the process.

King's College London and Exeter universities had filled their vacancies by the end of Thursday, he said.

He added that students with ABB grades who may want to trade up to a more popular degree course "are well aware that they have a powerful set of results".

'Act quickly'

A spokesman for the University of Manchester said it had started with 300 places in clearing, but many had been filled and on Friday there were about 100 vacancies left, "mainly in modern languages".

He added: "We are likely to be full later on Friday and certainly by early next week."

The spokesman also said that despite the empty places, the University of Manchester was unlikely to be offering places to anyone with less than three B grades.

A statement for the 1994 Group of smaller research-led universities warned that students should "act quickly" as places were going very fast.

Prof Jules Pretty, deputy vice-chancellor of the University of Essex, said its clearing and adjustment centre had been busy.

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