Record numbers of UK university places have been offered - as A-level results show a marginal fall in top grades for the fifth successive year.

The proportion of A* and A grades was 25.8%, down by 0.1% on last year. The pass rate of 98.1% remained the same.

The Ucas admissions services says 424,000 places have been offered, up by 3% on results day last year.

There are predictions of many places still being available through clearing, including in leading universities.

Universities say this year could be a "buyer's market" for applications with universities competing to attract students.

As well as the removal of the cap on university places in England, there is a decline in the number of 18 year olds.


There are more university places on offer through clearing this year.

This is the process which matches students with available places, after results have been published.

By this afternoon there had been more than 200,000 course searches on the Ucas website, with economics, law, psychology, business and nursing among the most popular courses.

There also places available at some leading Russell Group universities, including Birmingham, Leeds, Manchester, Sheffield and Warwick.

Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial UCL and LSE continue not to take part.

Sheffield University says its clearing service took 1,800 calls in the first two hours, leading to 360 offers.

"There's never been a better year to be applying to university in terms of your chances of getting a place, said Sheffield's head of admissions Lynsey Hopkins.