Universities struggling to fill science vacancies

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The Independent Online

Education Correspondent

Some universities will struggle to fill their places this year, admissions officials said last night. While the clearing process was much less frantic than in previous years a lack of applicants was worrying some institutions, they said.

By yesterday morning, more than four-fifths of the 270,000 places had been filled, compared with three-quarters at the same time last year.

While almost 125,000 people were eligible to go into the clearing system at the same time last year, only 100,000 people are eligible so far this year. The latest official lists of university and college vacancies are printed in section two of the Independent today.

Jess Enderby, spokesman for the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service, said that the number of applicants had risen slightly to 405,000, the same number as last year's total.

But because the universities had accepted a larger proportion of the candidates at an early stage, there were fewer chasing those places left over, Mr Enderby said.

"Some universities are happy that they are reaching their targets, but one or two are finding things a bit quiet and they are still anxious to hear from people.

"There is a dearth of students mainly in engineering, science and mathematics," added Mr Enderby.

Today's listings still show vacancies in most subjects, with the number of institutions offering some popular courses edging up slightly as offers made last week are rejected.

In English, there are 63 universities and colleges advertising vacancies today, compared with 55 on Wednesday. In media studies, there are 38 institutions advertising today, compared with a total of 36 on Wednesday.

At the University of Luton, 60 per cent of places were filled through clearing last year but admissions officials believe that this will drop to below half of all places this year, after a recruiting drive earlier in the year.

Steve Kendall, head of admissions, said: "It is quieter this year but then we had a massive year the year before last and a very good year last year. The newer universities are bound to be clearing-dependent."

Major under fire, page 5

Ucas vacancies, Section Two

Leading article, page 14

Could we do better? page 15