The university with no room

Professor Michael Sterling. Vice chancellor.
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Even its modern languages and engineering courses - difficult to fill in previous years - were oversubscribed this year. Professor Michael Sterling, the university's vice-chancellorand chairman of the Russell Group - the body which represents the top 18 research institutions in the UK, said: "We had a ten per cent increase in applications this year.

"Normally we would have gone into next week with the clearing system - possibly Monday - but we're having to pull out as of now."

Professor Sterling believes that Birmingham's story will be mirrored throughout the Russell group of universities.

"As far as the universities are concerned, there's very little they can do to up the number of undergraduates they take in to meet the extra demand," he said.

"We are given an allocation from the Higher Education Funding Council for England - if we exceed that figure, we get fined."

Universities have been flooded with applications this year as youngsters have sought to escape paying top-up fees, which come into force next September.