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Admissions latest: what’s happened since A-level results day?

22 August 2017
Eleanor Jubb

Eleanor Jubb

Former Policy Manager
Universities UK

The publication of this year’s A-level results last week gave us our first sense of how many students have been accepted to university for the coming academic year. ​

The data was always going to be of interest due to a fall in the number of people applying – the first since 2012. As of midnight on Monday, 468,670 applicants had found a university place: 1% down on the same point last year, but higher than in previous years. As there’s been a 4% fall in applicants, this means universities have accepted a higher proportion of their applicants than in previous years.​

Placed applicants, Tuesday after A-level results day​















Source: UCAS (

The route that applicants have taken to their university place is changing, with more applicants taking up places at their first choice institution and more going through Clearing. This year 58% of applicants were placed at their firm UCAS choice, compared to 57% last year and 56% the year before. And the number of applicants receiving a place through Clearing is at its highest ever level ​– 38,660 as of first thing Tuesday morning. Clearing is also getting faster than ever: the numbers of applicants placed through Clearing more than doubled on A-level results day.​

​Applicants by status and route, 22 August 2017​

Source: UCAS (2017)

Combined with the fall in total applicant numbers, this does mean that there are fewer applicants without a university place at this stage, so those applicants who haven't yet found the right place for them may have more choice this year.​

Also of note is the increased importance of young applicants. As we already know, the student body has become increasingly young, and this is set to continue, with 77% of all UK applicants who were accepted by midnight on 21 August aged under 20. In fact, across the whole of the UK, the only applicant age group that has seen an increase is those aged 18 and under. University continues to be very popular with this group, with record proportions of 18-year-olds in England, Northern Ireland and Scotland entering university this year.

Entry rates for 18-year-old placed applicants by UK country of domicile

However, what this actually means for 18-year-olds still depends too much on where they live. Although on average 32.1% of 18-year-olds living in England go to university, at a regional level this varies from 28.2% in the South West to 39.8% in London. And for 18-year-olds from the most disadvantaged areas, it's as low as 18.6%. That's the highest it's ever been at this point in the admissions cycle and is a 4% increase on last year, but there's still a big gap between that and the 44.4% of 18 year olds who go to university from the most advantaged areas. 

Entry rates for 18-year-old placed applicants by POLAR3 quintile

All of these figures are likely to increase before the end of the admissions cycle. We'll be updating our clearing visualisation daily, using the information from UCAS's daily Clearing analysis.

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