The number of students accepted on to degree courses at UK universities is down 1.3% compared to last year, according to Ucas figures.
The latest snapshot shows that 437,070 people had found courses as of midnight, around 20,700 fewer than had been placed at the same point last year.
The statistics also reveal that more would-be undergraduates have found a place through clearing compared to last year, with the numbers placed through the system up by 6%.
The figures show 11,180 students have found places through clearing so far this year, the day after the process opened.
Clearing is the annual system that matches students without degree places, such as those that failed to meet the entry requirements for their chosen course, with courses that still have availability.
For those would-be students still to find a place, there are indications that there has never been a better time to enter clearing.
The number of students free to be placed in clearing is down 12% (around 18,000 people) compared to last year, the figures show.
The falls in acceptances and numbers eligible for clearing means many options are still available for students still hoping to start degree courses this autumn with the majority of universities, including many top Russell Group institutions, entering clearing in a bid to recruit good candidates.
There have been reports that a number of universities are lowering their entry requirements to attract students.