Many young people were celebrating after getting the A-level grades they need to go to their first-choice university.
But for some the news was not what they expected, and they face an uncertain future.
However, education experts said students should not give up hope as there are a number of options available.
Last year about 35,000 people gained a place at university via the clearing system.
This year students will be able to search for a course online via the University and Colleges Admission Service web-based Track service at www.ucas.com.
Anthony McClaran, chief executive of UCAS, said: "The good news is that if you haven't received the grades you need, and want to go to university or college, it's not the end of the world.
"The UCAS website lists all the vacancies available in clearing, and 55 telephone advisers are on hand to take calls.
"Applicants can also call the Onelife helpline to discuss their options with trained careers advisers, as well as call the universities and colleges themselves."
Official course lists will also run in The Independent, Independent on Sunday, The Scotsman, Scotland on Sunday and the Belfast Telegraph.
Experts at UCAS advise applicants to be available to phone universities and colleges and to possibly attend interviews.
For more specific advice, Onelife has trained careers advisers to help talk through all the options available by calling 0808 100 8000.
The advisers have access to an online database, developed by the DfES and UCAS, which gives up-to-the-minute information about course availability.
Many students who do not achieve the necessary grades decide to take a year out before continuing with their studies.
Annually, 40 per cent of those who take a gap year do not decide to do so until they get their A-level results.
Tom Griffiths, founder of the UK's largest gap year website, gapyear.com, warned students planning to take a year out that from the academic year 2006/07, universities will start charging top-up fees of up to £3,000 a year.
The fees will apply to all students who wait until they get their A-level results before deferring entry to university. Mr Griffiths said: "Thousands of people who receive their results and decide to take a gap year will discover that doing so will mean they have to pay top-up fees."
19. Barbara Williams, UK director of Volunteering Partners at Community Service Volunteer, said: "The message is that students need not despair - they can experience an alternative 'gap' year in the UK by volunteering with disabled people, young offenders, children with special needs, homeless people, and drug and alcohol users."
Hannah Scotten, aged 18, from King's Lynn, who dropped out of school in the lower sixth form, has just completed a full gap year helping university students with cerebral palsy, quadriplegia and dyslexia.
She said: "I've matured a lot and I'm more independent and responsible. You have to learn to live with a really diverse group of people and that makes you much more tolerant."
CSV offers full-time volunteering opportunities to people over 16 years of age who commit to between 4- 12 months on community projects. They receive free accommodation, food and travel expenses, plus a weekly living allowance.
Advisers at careers service Connexions said students should not let their worries build up and should not discount retaking some subjects.
Further information is available at www. connexionsdirect.com or on 080 800 132