More women than men are ready to start a degree
The number of applicants accepted by universities has risen this year, with more women than men winning places, figures show.
The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (Ucas) found a total of 320,182 students were ready to start degrees - up from 313,231 this time last year. Of these, 54% were women.
The details come after this summer's A-level pass-rate reached a record 95.4%.
Ucas acting chief executive Anthony McClaran said: "I'm delighted that we appear to be heading towards another record year for numbers entering full-time higher education.
"The gender gap has been moving in the direction of women for some time and may reflect similar differential achievement in schools."
Among students accepted for a university place this year, 13,096 have come through the clearing system, set up for those who had not met conditions, had received no offers or had applied late.
The largest rise in acceptances was in social work, with 31.8% more gaining a place on a degree course than last year.
Other notable increases were in forensic and archaeological science (26%) and nursing (20.1%).
The subjects that showed the biggest drops were production and manufacturing (down by 13.3%), information systems (down by 13.1%) and electronic and electrical engineering (down by 10.5%).
Degree courses taking up the most students were in law (12,792), design studies (12,493) and psychology (11,336).
The Ucas figures include the applicants from this year who will start degrees in the autumn and those who are due to begin in 2004, following a gap year.
The statistics will be finalised in October, when the clearing process has ended.