David Willetts, universities minister, considers that those pupils who miss out their chance to get a degree course this year should try volunteering to enhance their CVs. Moreover, as almost 180,000 candidates are trying to get a place in clearing, he advises young people to apply to less competitive universities next year.
As today A-level pass rates have raised to record high of 97.6% for the 28th successive year and 27% of candidates got an A, competition in getting a degree course place becomes stronger than ever. According to Ucas, 18,500 courses with vacancies are available today while last year this number was only 32,000.
David Willetts wrote in his essay: "It is intensely competitive for young people. Look at the extras you can put on your CV – taking the example of medicine, that could be getting involved in caring for people who are sick, in some way."
The increase in the proportion of entries who received an A has shown that exams have become easier. However, Willetts defends the standards and says that students are more dedicated to study this year. He said: "I think they do work harder than they used to. The pressures on them are greater, they are more serious-minded and committed than a generation ago".
The results have shown the disproportion in the education given by private schools and state institutions as well as the gap between north and south that will cause concerns about the social status of universities.
This year the government has funded 9,000 extra places this year and this increased the number of applicants and made the competition fierce. This year the expansion was made for sciences and maths although university minister is not sure whether the same situation will be for the next year.
David Willetts said: "There are some factors in making this year unusual: a demographic peak, unemployment is high, and we had these decades of neglect of the vocational route. There are some special factors this year. I am working on the assumption of a continuing strong demand. I don't know whether we will have the same level of application to university next year."
The university minister has described the surge in number of applicants at the Open University and the increased number of private universities as "significant straws in the wind". He added: "I do think that although going away from home for three years for a residential university course is going to remain a widespread option, it is not the only option."