University acceptances on the rise


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The Independent Online

A third of the students accepted to English universities this year had scored at least an A and two B grades in their exams, official figures show.

New UCAS statistics reveal that 111,010 of those accepted to institutions in England had achieved AAB at A-level or in an equivalent qualification.

Under a major overhaul of higher education in England, this year there was no limit on the number of students with ABB or higher that universities could recruit, effectively leaving them competing to attract the best candidates.

In total, 334,860 UK and EU students were accepted to English universities for degree courses starting this autumn that fell under the student number cap, according to the UCAS figures.

This means that around 33% of the acceptances were for the brightest students - those with ABB or higher.

Of those that met the ABB threshold, around 76,700 had taken A-levels, 28,580 had sat BTEC courses, and the rest had taken other qualifications.

The figures come in a 14-page UCAS report looking at university acceptances four weeks after this year's A-level results were published.

Overall, 445,820 UK and EU students had been accepted onto courses at UK universities 28 days after A-level results.

This is up from 408,480 at the same point last year, but slightly down on 2011 - the final year before the tuition fee hike - when the figure was 465,070 students accepted.

Students starting degree courses at English universities this autumn are the second year group to pay fees of up to £9,000 per year.

Nicola Dandridge, chief executive of vice-chancellors' group Universities UK, said: "It is good news to see an increase in acceptances compared to last year. It shows that applicants are continuing to recognise the value of a university education.

"At a time when the 18-year-old population group, the largest group of applicants, has been shrinking, this is also significant.

"While large numbers do apply to university via the A-level route, it is worth remembering that applicants are also applying increasingly with a range of other equivalent qualifications. The priority for universities is making sure that they can attract the widest spread of able students with the potential to succeed."

Universities Minister David Willetts said: "This latest UCAS data shows that acceptances have bounced back. This year more students are getting their first choice university than ever before.

Universities have been free to recruit as many students with grades ABB or above at A-level which is about one third of student places."