Teenagers won plaudits for their record-breaking A-level results today as union leaders warned that young people are being "badly let down" by the Government.
A lack of university places, funding cuts and the promise of £9,000 tuition fees are creating mounting problems for youngsters, they said.
TUC deputy general secretary Frances O'Grady said: "Today many thousands will be rightly rewarded for their hard work with excellent A-level results and a fantastic chance to go to university.
"But because of the rush to avoid next year's fees hike, and the Government's refusal to fund extra university places, record numbers of students will lose out on higher education altogether."
She added: "Young people are being badly let down by this government - a failure that carries a devastating social and economic impact. Ministers need to step up and prioritise providing more jobs and training for young people."
Liam Burns, president of the National Union of Students (NUS) said: "It is great that so many students have seen their hard work pay off. We should be celebrating the numerous individual successes that today represents, but unfortunately we can be under no illusion about how challenging the current circumstances are for students.
"Those receiving their results today will sadly have to keep their wits about them and avoid the temptation to panic as they seek to navigate through the chaos and confusion left for them by ministers who, unlike many of the students receiving their results, have failed to do their sums properly.
"With youth unemployment once again pushing one million, now is not the time for the limits placed on university places, nor for the disastrous combination of education funding cuts and tuition fee rises which have created a perfect storm for a generation of young people."
Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) said: "The Government places itself in serious danger of alienating an entire generation of young people.
"The continual squeeze on university places comes at a time when yet more of our 16-24 year olds - another 38,000 in fact - are not studying or working. That is now more than one in five of our young people and will have devastating consequences for this generation.
"Stripping away careers and support services for young people whose next step is uncertain entrenches the disadvantage."
Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said: "Students should be celebrating their results and planning their futures. Instead they are hit with huge tuition fees, rising unemployment and drastic career service cuts.
"These students have come to a major crossroads, yet have no skilled help in choosing a route. If they feel that options are blocked off to them it will create a lost generation of young people."