More than 23,000 people have now snapped up a university place through clearing, updated figures showed today.
The latest snapshot from Ucas, the university admissions service, reveals that a record 432,524 people have already had their applications accepted.
This figure includes students who have had their original offers confirmed by institutions, and those who have found a place through clearing.
But tens of thousands more are still searching for a place, because they received no offers, failed to get the grades they needed, or applied late.
In total, 183,485 would-be students are now eligible for clearing - an extra 47,600 people on this point last year.
Some 23,040 students have found a place through clearing - up from 22,599 at this point last summer.
Last year, 47,600 students found places through clearing and it has been predicted that the number will be smaller this year.
When the clearing process started there were around 18,500 courses with vacancies, and it has been reported that this translates to around 30,000 places.
At this rate it would mean that around six applicants are fighting for every place.
The snapshot, which comes just six days after A-level results for England, Wales and Northern Ireland are published, shows that 51,412 students are still waiting on a decision about their course.
In total, 676,947 people have applied for a university place this year, an extra 63,000 people compared to 2009.
Clearing is the annual process that matches students without a place to university courses with vacancies.
The process usually lasts for a few weeks, but it looks likely to be much shorter this year as students accept offers quickly.
Last Thursday's A-level results revealed about one in 12 exam entries (69,302 in total) were awarded one of the new A* grades.
Overall, the pass rate rose for the 28th year in a row - with more than one in four entries (27%) gaining at least an A grade.Reuse content