The thousands of pupils receiving their A-level grades today have been greeted by record numbers of spaces available at universities across the UK - an additional 30,000 versus 2013. However, according to research into this year's results, the number of pupils who received A* and A grades in fact declined compared with the previous year, along with the overall pass rate, which saw its first decline in 30 years. However despite declining grades, those students who fell short of their expected grades are still highly likely to receive a place through clearing due to the "buyers market" that experts have highlighed in the system, following George Osborne's policy to lift the student number cap. The Russell Group of top UK universities have reportedly said that there will be many more places available compared with previous years, providing greater options to students than has been the case in the past.
According to UCAS admissions, there has been a 2% increase in students receiving places from their first choice university. Mary Curnock, UCAS chief executive, says that so far 400,000 students have already been accepted onto a course, which is up 3% compared with last year, with many more places still to be allocated through clearing. It appears that more universities than usual are taking part in the clearing process, with experts predicting that there will be over 500,000 places given overall to start this September.