Thousands of last minute places for A-level students in clearing at London universities

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More than 2,000 courses at London universities still have last-minute places for students getting their A-level results tomorrow.

Institutions including King’s College London, City University and the London Business School all have space on undergraduate degree courses available through clearing.

Universities are bracing themselves for one of the busiest clearing years ever with some drafting in students to answer phones and making academics stay in call centres to give advice to stressed students.

Experts believe more teenagers will enter the clearing process this year because changes to A-level exams have made it more difficult to predict results.

For the first time all A-levels are “linear” with exams taken at the end of the two-year course, and AS levels do not count towards the final result.

Professor John Brewer, pro-vice chancellor at St Mary’s University in Twickenham, said: “Nobody knows what impact the new A-levels will have. Will the average grades go up or down? It really is an unknown.”

Professor Alan Smithers, from the Centre for Education and Employment Research at the University of Buckingham, said: “Thirteen of the reformed A-levels, with tougher content and exams, have been taken for the first time this year, which has made it more difficult for teachers to predict results.  

“Students with better or worse results than expected will enter clearing and make it even more of a scramble.”

He added: “Most top universities have increased their places and fewer people have taken A-levels this year, so there will some very good opportunities on offer. But it will be hectic as the universities compete for students and students compete for places.”

St George’s University of London has doubled the number of people answering phones on clearing day, while London South Bank University will run a 24-hour call centre and has already stared accepting people onto courses.

At St Mary’s University, academic staff have been drafted in to work in the clearing call centre so they can speak directly to students. Clearing is the annual process that matches students without places with available courses.

Latest figures from the UCAS website show that 16 London universities have places on undergraduate degree courses. These include 33 courses  at the University of the Arts, 93 at  Birkbeck College and 73 at City University.

At Royal Holloway, 260 courses have space, including astrophysics, Spanish and dance.

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