Record student intake amid scramble for places
Exeter University is set for a record intake of students this year as demand for degrees in maths, science, engineering and medicine rose.
Hundreds of degree courses at the UK's leading universities are still offering places, but most will be closed off to students who did not get top grades in their A-levels.
Latest figures on the Ucas website suggest that there are around 1,500 courses with availability among Russell Group universities.
Under a major overhaul of higher education, this year there is no limit on the number of students with ABB at A-level that universities can recruit, effectively leaving them competing to attract the best candidates.
It is thought that around 115,000 bright students fall into this category.
This means that some top universities are remaining in clearing in a bid to snap up sixth-formers with top grades – including those who did better than expected – who are still looking for a degree place.
Exeter, which belongs to the prestigious Russell Group, has seen a 34% rise in applications and has expanded its undergraduate intake this year by an extra 600 places.
It said the quality of applications has also increased, with more than half of the students coming with A-levels of AAA or better.
Professor Janice Kay, deputy vice-chancellor, said: "This has been our best ever year for applications and we look forward to welcoming a record intake of 4,600 students in September."
Almost two weeks after A-level results were published three English universities – Newcastle, Liverpool and Sheffield – have spaces open on a number of courses.
But the majority of these are effectively only open to those with at least an A and two B grades in their A-levels.
Clearing matches those without places, while adjustment allows students who have done better than expected to trade up.
Exeter has exceeded its student recruitment targets by 10% this year, mostly increased numbers in science, engineering, medicine and maths.
Ian Blenkharn, head of admissions, said: "We only had a very few vacancies, exclusively at our Cornwall campus, for high quality applicants in Adjustment and Clearing.
"This was as a result of 100 additional places at our Cornwall campus being awarded by the Higher Education Funding Council. However, these filled up very quickly."