Record numbers of students predicted to score straight As in next week’s A-level results have missed out on places at Britain’s top universities.
The University of Birmingham has seen the number of applications for undergraduate entry rise significantly from 37,667 in 2008 to 40,943 this year.
The figures reflect the increasing number of young people looking to remain in education rather than face unemployment during the current economic downturn.
But the Edgbaston-based Russell Group university has also revealed that the total number of undergraduate places being offered to prospective students has gone down, from 5,731 last year to 5,450 in 2009.
The figures follow reports of a similar surge in applications at the elite Oxford and Cambridge universities, which could result in an estimated 12,000 top students being turned away.
More than 15,000 students applied to Oxford, up from 13,388 last year, for around 3,000 places available for this autumn.
Cambridge also saw its applications rise, from 14,498 to 15,679, but has only made 4,016 offers, down from 4,066.
Across the two universities, more than 30,000 students have applied for just over 7,000 places. And, even taking out applicants who fail to reach their grades, it could still mean around 12,000 who do achieve three-As will miss out.
According to the university admissions service Ucas, more than 600,000 people have applied to begin degree courses this autumn, an increase of 60,000 on last year. But only 13,000 extra places are available.