Thousands of A-Level students spent last night anxiously waiting for news on whether their university place was confirmed, after Ucas admitted to experiencing problems with its computer system.
As of Thursday afternoon, Ucas reported that 358,356 students had been accepted onto university courses starting in Sept 2012, down from 391,893 in 2011. Last year saw record results for university applications.
However, 95,000 students were still waiting on final decisions from universities, compared with just over 88,000 last year. After this year’s results were published 164,749 students were eligible for clearing, nearly 30,000 less than in 2011. Ucas said yesterday that were were over 25,000 courses with places still available.
Ucas did admit that they had suffered problems with their technology on results day, leaving many candidates frustrated and unable to obtain confirmed decisions from universities. On Twitter, the admissions service said that it “needed to refresh parts of our uni technical support this afternoon”. It said the refreshed system was working normally.
Universities minister David Willetts suggested that last year may have been the “peak” of applications. He said: “In advanced economies, there is an underlying appetite for higher education linked to personal fulfilment and employers seeking graduate jobs. What you’ve got this year is a decline in the of 18-year-olds. That is one reason why there are falling applications.”
“Last year probably was a peak year. But I’m not looking for a decline. One reason we went through all the pain with higher education reform was that we wanted to avoid a big reduction in student numbers, but also to save money by graduates making a greater contribution to their education.”