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UNIVERSITY CHALLENGE.

Byline: SIMON GASKELL

MORE people will miss out on university places than ever before as the number of students filling vacancies through clearing reached 13,000, it emerged yesterday.

By yesterday, 419,000 students across the UK had been accepted to university and the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (Ucas) expects this figure to rise to around 480,000, a spokesman said.

This means around 200,000 people who applied will not go to university this year.

Ucas figures also revealed the number of Welsh students being accepted into university has fallen by 1.4%.

While some continue to search for places through clearing, others will have withdrawn their applications or rejected offers earlier this year. A record 682,514 people applied for university places this year with just over 192,000 still able to apply through clearing, Ucas figures show.

Mary Curnock Cook, head of Ucas, said 65,000 people who have already applied for places are still awaiting decisions from universities, while 62,000 places remain. "The total number of applicants was up by about 1% this year, so it is more than ever before," she said.

Clearing matches students who did not get the grades they needed, or who turned down offers or received none, to courses with vacancies.

"The number in clearing is a self-balancing figure so as that goes down that is a good thing because it means that more people have been placed through the main scheme in choices they have been considering for a number of months," said Ms Curnock Cook.

Luke Young, NUS Wales president, said: "The sobering news is settling in that nearly 200,000 people will not make it to university this year. This includes young people with good A-levels that are being squeezed out by a cap on numbers and a rush into the system ahead of a tuition fee rise.

"Universities are reporting that they are nearly full and are turning people away."

A-Level results were published on Thursday and some students will now drop out and not enter clearing. The overall UK A*-E A-Level pass rate soared to a record 97.8%.

In Wales, concerns were raised after the percentage of A grades dropped to its lowest level since 2006, although there had been a surge in the Welsh Baccalaureate.

A Welsh Government spokeswoman said those who sat the Welsh Baccalaureate qualification were likely to benefit in clearing.

OUR VIEW, PAGE 30

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This year's clearing for universities report they are full and turning students away
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Wales On Sunday (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Aug 21, 2011
Words:421
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