A Government inquiry has been launched into why thousands of "missing" teenagers fail to get into Britain's most prestigious universities, despite getting the exam grades to warrant a place.
Around 3,000 students, mainly from poorer performing schools, fail each year to get into top universities despite achieving good GCSE grades.
Professor Steve Smith, the vice-chancellor of Exeter University, said places often end up going to pupils from private schools whose exam results are not as good.
The Government has ordered Mary Curnock Cook, the chief executive of the university admissions service Ucas, to carry out a review of the situation. David Willetts, the Universities minister, said he wanted to determine whether some students go to their nearest university without considering applying to a more prestigious institution, or whether they apply at all.
"Encouraging them would be a great way to boost social mobility and, by using school and Ucas data, we might be able to," he said.