The number of young people failing to get a university place reached a record high this summer, figures have revealed. The total of 209,253 who missed out was higher than earlier estimates and a 52,938 increase on those failing to find a place in 2009.
The figures – which amount to one in three applicants not getting a place – raise the spectre of an even greater scramble next year.
Universities pointed out that not only would a substantial proportion of the 209,258 re-apply, but they would face competition from those abandoning a "gap year" to avoid paying higher tuition fees of up to £9,000 a year, due to be introduced in September 2012.
Mary Curnock Cook, chief executive of UCAS, the university and college admissions service, which produced the figures, said: "Getting a place has been more competitive and we see that reflected in both the extra 52,938 applicants unplaced this year and the overall share of applicants finding a place falling just below 70 per cent compared to 75.3 per cent last year."
Fewer students were admitted from British backgrounds – down 0.2 per cent or 838 on last year – despite overall admissions holding steady. In contrast, non-European overseas students paying full-cost fees rose by 3.1 per cent. European student numbers rose by 7 per cent.
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