University places still open for thousands

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The Independent Online
STUDENTS seeking university places can still choose from 8,000 courses in subjects as varied as astronomy and crop science, writes Fran Abrams.

Despite a squeeze on places that has caused some universities to pull out of clearing in arts and social science subjects, there are vacancies in popular subjects.

The official vacancy lists of the two main clearing houses, published exclusively in today's Independent, show that a candidate prepared to be flexible is likely to find a place. Updated lists will be published on Friday and in the Independent on Sunday, and then three times a week - on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays.

Students prepared to combine English with other subjects can choose between 27 different universities including Aberystwyth, Portsmouth, Sunderland and Teesside. For geography, places are available at 26 institutions, including Newcastle, Reading, the London School of Economics and Leeds.

Other courses available at a number of universities include most science subjects, engineering, business studies and environmental studies.

Although the Government has attempted to halt the expansion of higher education by restricting funds for arts courses, an extra 10,000 students will go to university this year, according to officials at the clearing houses, Ucca and Pcas.

The Government's restrictions, announced last autumn, came after admissions officers had offered places on the assumption of continued growth. Those universities have had to give places to all candidates who gained the A-level grades needed.

Between 5,000 and 6,000 extra students will be admitted to the old universities, and a slightly lower figure to the former polytechnics, clearing officials say. However, there will still be 20,000 more disappointed candidates than last year, applications having risen by 32,000 to 593,000.

The outcome is that both acceptances and rejections have increased this year.

The number of courses in clearing has risen by 1,000, but the proportion of all courses which are still open has fallen. The total number of courses on offer has risen by 2,000 to 21,800, of which 8,181 have places.

While many of these courses will fill up over the next few days, others are likely to enter clearing next week as admissions tutors become more certain about the number of places that have been taken up.

Lists; classifieds, pages 13-31

Doubt over crash courses, page 5

Leading article, page 35