Still hope for some in hunt for place at university

Summer Taylor, Emily Scanu and Rebecca Widdicombe of St Peter's School in York open their results.
Summer Taylor, Emily Scanu and Rebecca Widdicombe of St Peter's School in York open their results.
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UNIVERSITIES across Yorkshire reported still having limited places available through clearing last night, despite record numbers of people going into higher education.

The last remaining university places were being quickly snapped up, with almost twice as many applicants nationally finding places through clearing than last year.

Clearing is traditionally seen as a route for pupils without a place to find course vacancies.

However, it is also increasingly being used by students who want to trade up to a better university after doing better than they expected at A-level.

The number of bright youngsters trading up through the so-called “adjustment” system to other institutions or courses has doubled compared with last year but still remains a tiny percentage of the overall numbers going to university, according to the latest figures.

It is thought the increase is down to new admission rules this year which allow universities to take on an unlimited number of students who achieve at least an A or two Bs.

It means universities have the freedom to recruit candidates whose exam results are above this threshold without going over their limit for student numbers.

However, the number of students they can recruit below the ABB limit has been cut.

So far figures show record numbers of students have been accepted on to degree courses, with an increase in those winning a place at their first choice of institution.

At the start of A-level result day, 401,540 applicants had been accepted by UK universities and colleges – a nine per cent rise on 2012, Ucas said.

The admissions service said this is also higher than the number of students who had secured their place at this point in 2011 – the year before tuition fees were almost tripled to £9,000.

Some 7,970 students had already found places through clearing, compared with 4,180 who had done so at this point last year, while a further 300 people have found a degree course through adjustment, compared with 140 last year.

Students could begin looking at courses available in clearing and contacting universities about vacancies on Thursday, with around 30,000 courses advertised for English applicants, but could not begin making choices through the Ucas website until 5pm with more than 6,000 choices added in the first 10 minutes.

A snapshot survey of the Ucas clearing found that more than one in 10 courses listed with vacancies were for leading Russell Group universities.

In total, 15 of the 24 universities were still advertising almost 3,300 courses for English students between them.

Yorkshire’s three Russell Group universities, Leeds, Sheffield and York, have all offered places through clearing this year.

York reported it was receiving enquiries through clearing from people looking to upgrade to a better university.

However, Huddersfield University’s deputy vice chancellor, Peter Slee, said: “Typically only five per cent of students do better than expected so I would be very surprised if there is any real change. We are certainly not losing students to other universities.”

The majority of universities in the region said student recruitment through clearing had remained similar to previous years.

A Leeds University spokeswoman said: “The university has performed strongly and is delighted with the calibre of students who are coming to Leeds in September. There are still some places for students with good exam results.”

Leeds Metropolitan University said it still had around 400 places to fill yesterday evening while Leeds Trinity, the city’s newest university, said it had a few places remaining.

Sheffield University said it had places available for students with at least an A and two Bs at A-level.

A Bradford University spokeswoman said it had filled its courses in social work, nursing, optometry and clinical sciences through clearing but still had places available including in creative technology, media, engineering, maths and psychology.

A spokesman for Sheffield Hallam said places at the university were now “extremely limited.” It said it had received 17,000 attempted calls on A-level results day.