More students than ever finding university places through clearing

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Record numbers of students are finding last-minute degree places through clearing as universities battle to snap up candidates still searching for courses.

A total of 28,270 students had secured a spot for this autumn through clearing as of midnight on Sunday – up just over 1 per cent on last year, and a rise of around 59 per cent compared with five years ago.

It comes amid reports some universities are offering cash bonuses, laptops, gym membership and even free flights in an attempt to lure students to the institutions.

The overall numbers of applicants placed has fallen by around 1 per cent this year, which comes in the wake of a drop in applications for degree courses.

Getting the grades: London student Philippa Kent (left) poses with her A Level results on after being accepte din Oxford University

There are indications that students who have not yet secured a place are still in a good position, with a survey showing there are still thousands of courses potentially with availability – including some at top universities.

The survey, based on 148 universities and colleges, gives a total of 25,336 undergraduate courses showing availability for students in England on the UCAS website, down just a couple of thousand courses compared with Thursday, when clearing opened.

Out of the 24 Russell Group universities alone, a group of highly selective institutions that are considered among the best in the country, more than two-thirds (17) have at least one course listed on the site, with 3,365 courses listed in total.

The UCAS data also suggests there has never been a better time to enter clearing amid a fall in overall applications and acceptances and fewer students free to enter the annual process.

Clearing is the annual system that matches students without degree places, such as those that failed to meet the entry requirements for their chosen course, with courses that still have availability.

The figures suggest many options are still available to students hoping to start degree courses this autumn with less competition among those still searching for a place.

Overall, 649,700 people had applied to start degree courses by June 30, the last deadline for applications, down around 4 per cent – 25,190 – compared with this point last year, according to previous UCAS figures.

A breakdown shows a 4 per cent decrease in UK applicants, while the number of EU students fell by 5 per cent, and international student numbers were up 2 per cent.

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