In recent years these have become increasingly popular, with a good track record of graduate employment. But as more students choose to take this as an option and universities expand their business school programmes accordingly, so the competition becomes fierce, especially in such areas as advertising and marketing.
Most universities prefer maths A-level, along with English, science, economics or a foreign language. Maths and English to GCSE level are also required.
UMIST is one of the top universities offering business, followed by Warwick, LSE, Lancaster, Bath, Nottingham, Manchester and Strathclyde. Many of the courses are run with the option of a year's work placement, and a number offer the chance to study or work in Europe.
Anglia Polytechnic University, for example, offers two European business programmes with languages, with an option to study in Berlin for a dual English and German award.
Colin Dandy is the assistant dean of business development and recruitment at the University of Wolverhampton. The university offers a range of business courses, mostly including a supervised work placement in the third year.
There is a European language option (currently very popular) with French, German, Spanish, Italian and Russian.
Mr Dandy says that this year the whole of the programme is being put in to Clearing, with a target of around 500 students in the entire school. About half of the places have been filled, so there is a great deal of scope through Clearing. Mr Dandy says: "This year students seem to be going for more specialised areas such as marketing and human resource management."
He said: "Our biggest BA is business studies, but also very popular is the BA in European business administration, which is based partly in the UK and partly in Holland."
The university also runs one of the top courses in the country in hospitality and licence retail management.
In general, the university requires between four and 16 points at A-level or GNVQ, depending on the programme. But very popular also is the university's HND course, which allows for entry onto the degree course in the third year, depending on performance. This year has seen the highest-ever entry of students with GNVQ qualifications.
Elsewhere around the country, Loughborough reports that most of its single honours and joint honours business courses are full - but there will be a handful of vacancies on materials with business studies, physics with management, mathematics and accounting and mathematics and management.
There are also likely to be a couple of dozen vacancies for the university's new Peterborough-based BSc in business studies, both full and part-time. This is primarily designed for students living in this locality, as the university would not be able to provide student accommodation.
The University of Central Lancashire says it is likely to have places through Clearing on its accounting and financial services courses. Other programmes with places available through Clearing include business information technology, management, public relations and business enterprise.
The University of Teesside reports it has vacancies on its BA (Hons) accounting and finance course, and BA (Hons) marketing. A new course, BA (Hons) in organisational behaviour, which is aimed at students interested in the application of behavioural sciences within the business setting, also has a large number of places available. Alyson Tonge, the deputy director of the school of business and management says: "For students who have passed only one A-level, there are also vacancies on our HND courses."
In 1997, 54,401 applicants gained places in Clearing. That is 16.2 per cent of all accepted applicants
The average A-level point score for students accepted last year in Clearing was 14.9, compared with 18.8 for the year as a whole. A-level grades score 10 for an A, eight for a B, six for a C, four for a D, two for an E
In 1997, only 413 UK students were accepted through Clearing for medicine and dentistry. But 3,764 gained places in Clearing for subjects allied to medicine, and 3,181 for the biological sciences
English accepted 1,120 UK applicants through Clearing last year
General engineering accepted 695 UK applicants through Clearing last year
The largest increases in degree applications so far this year, over the same time last year, are: software engineering (up by 22.1 per cent); marketing and market research (up 19.4 per cent); and computer science (up four per cent)