With the latest figures published, more than a quarter of candidates to get a place on a degree course are still in suspense. Last year more than 46,000 students got place on courses through clearing while the number of students who have applied to university this year is 675,465 students. According to Ucas, nearly 187,000 candidates are chasing a falling number of unfilled places. The record number of candidates and a cap on university places caused a fierce competition this year.
Ms Curnock Cook warned that nearly 150,000 out of 675,465 students applying to universities would miss out and more than 60,000 candidates, with many of them having A-level grades, would be rejecting offers and even withdrawing from the system with a view to re-applying next year.
Although many courses with places are available for students who fail to get a university place through clearing this year, this number is fewer compared to 47,600 young people who were placed through clearing in 2009.
David Willetts, the universities' secretary, would supervise the process of admitting the bright pupils from poorer homes. Consequently, the same proportion of students with A* grades from independent and comprehensive schools, 30%, was revealed although comprehensive students take only a third of entries.
Lower offers may cause the situation that candidates from poorer backgrounds could be the first to be rejected under such a tough competition. Universities admissions tutors often make lower conditional offers to pupils from more challenging backgrounds than those from independent schools. This time they may use information on the candidates' backgrounds to choose the best pupils from a wider range of social groups.
Nicola Dandridge, chief executive of vice-chancellors' representative body Universities UK, said: "A-level grades and school performance are the primary methods for assessing potential, but so are a host of other factors including the students' personal statement, the report from their schools and information about their school background."
She noticed in her custom essay that this year more disadvantaged young people would enter universities. Dr Wendy Piatt, director general of the Russell Group of leading universities, said that the main criterion for choosing candidates this year was only their academic success.