Universities minister reacts to A-level results

Jessica King and Lucy Knight have been offered places at Oxford.

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A record number of students have already been accepted on to university courses, official figures show.

As of midnight, 385,910 applicants had been accepted by UK universities and colleges - 31,600 more than at the same point last year, a rise of 9%.

HAPPY David Willetts MP

HAPPY David Willetts MP

The admissions service Ucas said it is the highest number of acceptances ever recorded on A-level results day.

The figures come as students across England, Wales and Northern Ireland receive their results, with many also due to learn whether they have won a coveted place at university.

National A-level results show that the proportion of exam entries awarded at least an A grade has fallen for the second year in a row, with 26.3% of entries scoring an A or A*, down from 26.6% in 2012 - a drop of 0.3%. It is believed to be the second biggest fall in the history of A-levels.

Ucas’s first snapshot of university acceptances show that around 345,300 applicants have gained a place at their first choice of institution.

A further 98,740 applicants are awaiting results or decisions, while 145,730 are eligible for clearing - the process that matches students without places to courses with vacancies.

Universities Minister David Willetts said: ‘A degree remains one of the best pathways to achieving a good job and a rewarding career - as well as a hugely enjoyable experience for most students.

‘What is more, there is a real incentive for working hard, because the research finds that gaining a higher degree classification boosts earnings even further.”

Mr Willetts said: ‘It is great that more students have been accepted by universities than ever before at this time in the cycle. Many congratulations to everyone who has worked so hard and is now looking forward to the life-changing experience of university.’

He maintained that students were not being put off from applying to university because of £9,000 a year tuition fees.

‘Students of course recognise they don’t pay the tuition fees upfront,’ he said.

‘They pay back as graduates if they are in well-paid jobs earning over £21,000 a year and I think young people understand that. Which is why we have actually got applications running at their second highest level ever.

‘So I think young people are not being put off by our education reforms.

‘What the Government is doing is ensuring that they also have the option of apprenticeships. We’ve doubled the number of apprenticeships and so young people now have got a real choice.’