Places still available at leading universities for coming year

Updated: 

Last-minute places are set to be available at some of the UK's top universities this week, with some actively recruiting students.

Figures show that as of today, two thirds of Russell Group universities, considered among the best in the UK, were advertising courses on the Ucas clearing website.

In total, the site shows that there were around 4,700 undergraduates courses at these institutions with available places for English students.

A number of leading universities are encouraging students to consider studying with them, and even pre-register ahead of A-level results day on Thursday, when sixth-formers across England, Wales and Northern Ireland will receive their grades and learn if they have secured a hoped-for spot on their chosen degree course.

Many are aiming to recruit students who perform better than expected in their exams and want to "trade" to a different university through the annual process known as adjustment, or those who simply want to change their course or university.

Ucas figures show that overall, around 890 applicants found places through adjustment last year, while around 50,000 were placed through the main clearing scheme.

Clearing is the annual process that matches students without places, for example those that did not meet their required grades, with available courses.

Sheffield University is running a campaign this summer which it said aims to "challenging the old perceptions around clearing" and tell high-performing students that if they do better than expected that they can switch to study at the institution.

Liz Hunt, Sheffield's head of admissions said: "The University of Sheffield is looking to recruit high quality students through adjustment and clearing this year and wants to ensure that students who achieve better grades than expected, students who applied late, and students who may have changed their mind about the course they wish to study, are aware that Sheffield is an option for them."

She added that students can register in advance of A-level results day to express their interest in courses, and those that do so, and achieve the required grades will be given priority consideration if places are available.

Cardiff University has been using Twitter to promote its places, using the social media site to encourage students to plan ahead for results day, view its vacancies and register for update.

According to the Ucas clearing site, Sheffield currently has available places for students in England on 381 undergraduate courses, and Cardiff has 366.

The 16 Russell Group universities showing undergraduate courses with availability for English students are Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Exeter, Glasgow, King's College London, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Queen Mary (University of London), Queen's University Belfast, Sheffield, Southampton, Warwick and York.

There is now no cap on student numbers which makes it easier for institutions to recruit more applicants if they want to.

The number of would-be students applying to university this autumn has fallen, according to Ucas statistics.

Overall, 649,700 people had applied by June 30, the last deadline for applications, down around 4% (down 25,190) compared with this point last year. 

Those applying after the end of June do so through clearing.

A breakdown shows a 4% decrease in UK applicants, while the number of EU students planning to study at a UK university or college has fallen by 5%. 

There has been a 2% rise in international students from countries outside the EU.

The statistics do show that the proportion of 18-year-olds in England applying to universities has reached a new high, with 37.9% planning to study for a degree, up from 37.2% in 2016.