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Students scramble for uni places

Record numbers of students are fighting for the last remaining university places after the A-level pass rate rose for the 29th consecutive year.

One in 12 (8.2%) entries received an A* grade this summer, but the number of exams scoring at least an A plateaued for the first time in 15 years.

More than one in four (27%) exams achieved at least an A, the same percentage as in 2010. The last time this percentage stalled was in 1996 and 1997, when 15.7% of exams were awarded at least an A.

More than 250,000 teenagers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland have received their long-awaited A-level results with the the overall A*-E pass rising to 97.8%.

National figures published by the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) show that boys have closed the gap with girls on A* grades.

Some 8.2% of boys' entries achieved an A* this year, up from 7.9% in 2010. Girls' performance dipped slightly, with 8.2% of girls' entries awarded the top grade, down from 8.3%.

But while many teenagers are celebrating, others still face a desperate scramble to secure a university place. Students who miss out this year will have to apply again next year - and have to pay £9,000 in annual tuition fees.

Latest figures show that 682,367 people have applied to start undergraduate university courses this autumn; of these 57.6% have been accepted so far.

The rush for clearing places was exacerbated by a fourfold increase in the number of visits to the Ucas website, which forced the site to close temporarily.

"Obviously, for Ucas, any service failure is something that we don't want to happen," chief executive Mary Curnock Cook said. "We are here to try and provide advice and services to our applicants and to our member universities and colleges, so any disruption in service is not how we would wish it to be."


From Belfast Telegraph