Record university applications see 200,000 miss out
Nearly three in 10 potential students were denied a place at university this year, Ucas statistics show.
Nearly three in 10 potential students were denied a place at university this year, statistics showed today.
More than 200,000 people missed out as universities faced a record number of applicants combined with a freeze on places.
Data published by the universities admissions service Ucas showed that a record 688,310 people applied to start degree courses this autumn.
But only 479,057 were accepted, meaning that around 209,000 missed out.
Of these, 188,697 (27.4%) were eligible for clearing but received no offers, did not meet the required grades, or applied too late. Last year this figure was 22%.
A further 2,475 applicants are still waiting for a decision, while 18,081 have withdrawn their applications.
The figures comes as a new report shows one in eight teenagers scored at least three A or A* grades in their A-levels this summer.
Ucas chief executive Mary Curnock Cook warned there could be unprecedented competition next year, as teenagers try to avoid the expected introduction of higher tuition fees in 2012.
She told the Times earlier this week: "As soon as there's uncertainty, you will get a massive influx of applications."
The record rise in applications this year was fuelled by the recession, with many workers choosing to return to education.
But at the same time, English universities faced a cap on the numbers of UK and EU students they accept, with the prospect of £3,700 fines for each student they over-recruited.
Pam Tatlow, chief executive of the university think tank Million+, said: "It is entirely predictable that there will be a big increase in applications to university next year as would-be students scramble to secure places before a different fee and funding regime is introduced.
"This is exactly what happened in 2005. The difference is that in 2005, there was no cap on student numbers, and there were not 190,000 disappointed applicants who had missed out on places the preceding year.
"This year there were nearly 60,000 'reappliers' from 2009. Coupled with the prospect of fees of £7,000 per annum and a challenging jobs market, we could see a huge surge in applications for university in 2011."
Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union, said: "Record numbers of people missed out on a place at university this summer and we will be incredibly disappointed if any minister tries to spin their way out of this by saying there are more students at university. At a time of record demand, over 200,000 students, one in three who applied, missed out on a university place because the government scrapped plans to fund additional places.
"Other countries around the world are investing in universities and in students. We, however, seem intent on doing the opposite, despite George Osborne yesterday having the nerve to say that universities were the jewel in our economic crown. The chancellor and the country will quickly learn that warm words won't save our universities."
The Browne review of student funding, published last week, called for the cap on tuition fees to be lifted, with the government underwriting loans to students of up to £6,000 per year.
Universities who want to charge over this for a course would be hit by a tapered levy.
The business secretary, Vince Cable, who has responsibility for universities, said ministers were considering a new fee cap of £7,000 per year, more than double the current £3,290.
Lord Browne's proposals to lift the cap entirely, raising the prospect that institutions could charge as much as £12,000 a year for some courses, was being "considered carefully", Mr Cable added.