RECORD numbers of students across the region are battling to get into university this year in a bid to avoid tuition fees of up to £9,000.
School and college heads are anxiously awaiting tomorrow’s A-level results when it is anticipated 220,000 youngsters will face rejection from university, compared with 170,000 last year, amid unprecedented demand for higher education.
The crunch comes as students opt out of taking a gap year to avoid the new fees, which apply from September next year.
Di Lloyd, principal of St Vincent College, in Gosport, said: ‘We don’t have many students taking a gap year or deferring this year. And many students who have in the past decided to take time out before university have applied this year.
‘I worry students will go for courses they don’t want to guarantee a place.’
Kevin Grieve is deputy principal of Portsmouth College, where tomorrow’s results have been brought forward from 10am to 8.30am to give students the best chances of getting through the university ‘clearing’ process.
He said: ‘There aren’t many students who want to be saddled with huge debts.’
Matthew Quinn, head at Oaklands Catholic School in Waterlooville, said: ‘All the students are trying to get into university now to avoid higher fees.
‘We’re all apprehensive this year as to what will happen. In the past universities took on youngsters who missed out on their offer by a few points or a grade.
‘This year they won’t need to do that as there will be plenty of others queuing to take their place.’
A spokeswoman for the University of Portsmouth said there would be ‘fewer than ever’ places in clearing, with just a handful of places on a limited number of courses.