More university places available this year for top performing A-level students


Bright teenagers who get better-than-expected A-level results next month are set to have a bigger chance of gaining places at some of the country’s leading universities.

Sheffield University, one of the 24-strong Russell Group of universities, which are amongst the most selective in the country, will launch a register to promote its participation in the clearing scheme tomorrow.

The idea is to allow give students a head start on results day in the stampede for clearing places by expressing their interest in the courses they would like to follow should their grades warrant them a place at the university.

The university, which trialled the scheme for the first time last year, and saw 50 applicants gain admission as a result, is expecting many of its rival universities to follow suit this summer.

“It was looked at quite jealously as an idea,” said Christina Edgar, head of student recruitment at Sheffield University.  “I think we might have set a trend that others will follow.”

Lynsey Hopkins, head of admissions, added: “We’re seeing a trend whereby some of the big universities - who wouldn’t normally go into clearing - are advertising places two or three days in advance of students getting their results.”

A spokesman for the Russell Group said the Government’s decision to relax the rules on student numbers could help students gain last-minute places through the “adjustment" process, which is similar to clearing - holding back places until results day for those who achieve top grade passes.

“There are two types of students who would benefit: those who achieve better than expected results and those who might have been offered a place at a leading university provided they get three straight As but do not get those grades. Instead, they get, say, A,B,B - which could qualify them for a place at another leading university,” the spokesman added.

However, some universities - in particular Oxford and Cambridge - have set their faces against expanding student numbers so will not be offering extra places this summer.