Thousands disappointed as record numbers join great clearing scramble

Huge demand for courses means many students are left with nowhere to go

Record numbers of A-level candidates snapped up university places within hours of receiving their results yesterday – leaving 135,000 would-be students chasing a fast-dwindling number of clearing places.

Last night, it was predicted that most of the 22,000 clearing places on offer have already been taken, with one university, Bath Spa, saying that it had stopped taking calls for the 75 to 100 places it was offering.

Figures show that a total of 371,016 candidates confirmed their university places yesterday morning on receipt of their results, up from 336,057 last August.

UCAS, the university admissions service, said it was awaiting the outcome of a further 96,806 candidates who had offers pending.

This year, for the first time, those students who achieve higher grades than they expected will have any provisional offer held open for them for five days in case they want to try their luck with another university.

The new measure was introduced by UCAS because it was felt that sixth-formers, particularly from disadvantaged backgrounds, were less inclined to apply for places at the country's more elite universities until they had their passes in their hands.

However, this still left a total of 135,114 applicants eligible for a clearing place – with only 22,000 places to choose from.

In reality, it is unlikely that the entire 135,000 will pursue a university. Some will have decided to take a gap year, while others from overseas may have made a speculative offer while pursuing alternatives abroad – such as high-ranking universities in the United States such as Harvard.

The estimate that academic experts frequently come up with is that around 60,000 serious applicants will be disappointed this summer.

Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said last night: "It will be little short of a tragedy if all the hard work by this year's students is unrewarded by a place in higher education or a job.

"It seems particularly cruel to raise expectations and then dash them by failing to provide enough places in higher education for UK students.

"The Government will need to do more to support those who don't manage to get a university place this year."

By last night, 6,219 people had withdrawn their applications. UCAS pointed out that more than 60 per cent of the applicants had now signed up for the course of their choice, "meaning more people than ever have the reassurance that they know what their future holds".

Anthony McClaran, chief executive of UCAS, said: "For those people who haven't secured a place, universities and colleges across the country are waiting to take their calls.

He added: "Clearing is very competitive," but stressed that the places for all the youngsters who received provisional offers and got the necessary grades would be honoured.

The Higher Education minister, David Lammy, commented: "Those students who don't get the grades they need shouldn't panic, as there's a broad range of options open to them, including clearing, reapplying for next year or seeking work experience or training."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Recruitment Genius: Nursery Pre School Practitioner

£6 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Due to continued expansion, they are loo...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development & Relationship Manager

£45000 - £90000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Development & Relati...

Recruitment Genius: Personal Assistant - Startup

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Personal Assistant is require...

Guru Careers: Graduate Software Developer / Junior Developer

£20 - 28k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Graduate Software Develop...

Day In a Page

On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific
In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

Dame Colette Bowe - interview
When do the creative juices dry up?

When do the creative juices dry up?

David Lodge thinks he knows
The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

Fashion's Cher moment

Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

Health fears over school cancer jab

Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

Weather warning

Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

High hopes for LSD

Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

Saving Private Brandt

A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral