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Last Updated: Friday, 18 August 2006, 12:04 GMT 13:04 UK
No rushing for university places
students opening results
Students received their A-level results on Thursday
This year's record-breaking A-level results have not yet led to a late rush of applicants for UK university places.

The current number of applications for courses at UK universities remains down around 3.6% on last year's figures.

Some universities were hoping more students would sign up for courses through the clearing system, after getting better-than-expected A-levels.

There has been speculation that a rise in tuition fees, coming into force this autumn, has deterred some students.

In 2005, 499,311 students applied for university places.

But this year applications were down by almost 18,000 at 481,395 to date.

Yet despite this fall, the overall trend is for university applications to rise

Applications in 2006 were up 4.1% on 2004, when 462,262 students applied to university.

Higher fees

The fall in applications in 2006 has been attributed - by commentators and the National Union of Students - to the introduction of higher tuition fees mainly for students in England and Northern Ireland.

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From the start of the new academic year, students will have to pay up to 3,000 a year, although bursaries are being made available to students from poorer backgrounds.

The first day of clearing, when students get their results and know whether they have got the grades for their chosen university, is usually the busiest for universities.

This year the process appears to be moving quickly, with about 300,000 students having had their places confirmed by the end of Thursday.

But plenty of vacancies remain - more than 37,000 courses have one or more spare places.

"Universities had hoped for a late surge in applications, but it seems the effect of concerns over this autumn's start of top-up fees has not gone away," said the BBC's education correspondent Mike Baker.




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