Best candidates missed university

Many of the best A-level candidates were beaten to university places this year by those who did worse in their exams, it emerged last night.

Pupils who narrowly missed out on three A-grade passes ended up without a place, while many with three B-grade passes succeeded, said Andrew Grant, vice-chairman of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference. He told the meeting: "High-flying candidates who accepted provisional three-As offers and ended up with two As and a B got nowhere.

Lower flyers who accepted places on three Bs have got in." The pattern emerged as a result of the squeeze on university places this year – with around 170,000 applicants failing to find a place.