Ucas says 285,190 were accepted by the time results were published - up nine per cent on last year

A record number of students snapped up university places on A-levels day this year, official figures showed.

Ucas, the university and colleges admissions service, revealed that 385,190 had been accepted on to degree courses by the time A-level results were published - a nine per cent rise on last year’s figure of 354,310.

That left 98,740 applicants still awaiting a decision about the offer of a university and 145,730 hunting for a place through the clearing system - a slightly lower figure than last year.

Universities Secretary David Willetts said he believed that “a slightly lower figure” would find university places through the clearing system this year - making the overall intake better than last year but short of the record numbers recruited in 2011 when many students tried to beat the introduction of the new fees regime charging £9,000 for a place.

Mr Willetts said he believed today’s figures showed students  were not being put off by the fees structure.  “Two years ago was an artificial figure,” he added.

He said that some universities would be able to take advantage of the new system - whereby they can expand student numbers so long as they recruit students with at least an A and two B grade passes.

“There may be others that don’t do so well,” he added, “but that’s how introducing more flexibility into the system works.”

As a result of the increased competition between universities, some are offering inducements to students to enrol - such as free laptops and iPads

Brian Lightman, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, warned that the concentration on ABB students could mean fewer places for those with three B grades or below.

Andrew Hall, chief executive of the AQA exam board, added: “The importance of grade B for young people's outcomes is probably more important than it was. You might see more appeals from people just below the B grade boundary coming through.”

However, Mr Willetts said that government reforms allowing universities to expand only accounted for around one-third of student places and that there would be plenty of places on offer for the rest.