Record number accepted on university courses

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The Independent Online

A record number of students will enrol at university this autumn, figures published today show.

A total of 411,971 applicants have been accepted for courses in September – a rise of 5.8 per cent on last year and higher than the previous record set in 2005.

Ministers were celebrating the figures, released by Ucas, the University and College Admissions Service, as evidence that the introduction of top-up fees was no longer a deterrent.

A breakdown of the figures shows an increase in both the numbers applying for, and being accepted on to, maths, physics, chemistry and modern foreign language courses, areas where the Government has wanted to safeguard student numbers after years of decline. In chemistry, in particular, the increase in student numbers has been 28 per cent over the past three years, and this year's figures show an increase of three percentage points above the average rise of 5.8 per cent.

The number of students applying for places this autumn was also a record at 531,898 – a 5.4 per cent increase on last year.

The figures are likely to increase pressure from leading universities for a relaxation of the ceiling on top-up fees. Ministers have said they will review the position in 2009.

Bill Rammell, the Higher Education minister, said: "I'm extremely pleased to see these recorded acceptance figures are in line with the... rise in applications seen earlier in the year."