Some 424,000 students have won their place at universities and colleges across the UK, the highest number ever recorded on A-level results day, which also saw a three percent increase from last year’s figures.

As for EU students, despite concerns that many would turn to alternatives post-Brexit, their numbers have actually increased by 11 percent this year – another record-setting number.

According to figures released by UCAS, as of midnight local time, the number of 18-year-old applicants placed into further and higher education was up two percent from 2015.

While the pass rate stayed the same at 98.1 percent, there was a slight dip in top grades: the proportion of A* and A grades stood at 25.8 percent, down by 0.1 percent from last year.

An increase in acceptances among older age groups could also be observed, as those aged 25 and over rising by eight percent, while more students from each of the four UK nations have been placed in higher education: 307,200 in England, while Scotland has seen 31,900, Wales 16,600, and Northern Ireland 12,000.

There were also several improvements from last year: for example, students from disadvantaged backgrounds were seven percent more likely to be given offers compared to last year, and the gender gap has narrowed down a bit, with three percent more men placed this year, and two percent more women.

In response to the figures, UCAS chief executive, Mary Curnock Cook, said: “This is a big day for hundreds of thousands of young people who have chosen to kick start their adult life with higher education – well done to all of them.

“I’m particularly pleased to see the first small signs of improvement for young men, although they are still too far behind.”

Chief executive of Universities UK, Nicola Dandridge, said the record figures showed the clear benefits of getting a degree, reported The Independent.

“Official data shows skilled graduates are still in a substantially better position to obtain a job and, on average, earn substantially more than non-graduates over a working lifetime.

“Success in higher education, however, should not simply be measured by how much graduates go on to earn. A degree also helps students develop a range of other important life skills, from the ability to think critically, to analysing and presenting evidence. Higher education is also about making life-long friendships with people from all parts of the world and developing as an individual,” she said.

Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union (UCU), had some words of advice for students: “Deciding whether or not to study, and where, is a life-altering decision and universities must not put undue pressure on students. Students are in a strong position this year and should not be rushed.

“For too long, university funding policy has been based on looking for new ways to squeeze more out of students. Higher education is at a crossroads at the moment as the sector grapples with the Brexit fallout and government plans to further increase fees. What is really needed is a proper debate about how to fund our universities and our students.”

This year, a record number of students are also expected to use Clearing to find the right course for them.

Image via Central Bedfordshire Council Twitter

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