Almost 230,000 students face missing out on university this year as the rush to escape higher tuition fees generates record demand for places.
By christmas, an unprecedented 344,000 candidates had completed university applications for the next academic year – more than ever before at such an early stage in the admissions（许可，承认） process.
Students are desperate to secure university places in 2011 in order to beat a near tripling of course fees in 2012 that could lead to some being charged up to £9,000 a year.
According to the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (Ucas), demand among English students, who will be hit hardest by the rise in fees, is particularly high. Many students are believed to be abandoning their plans for a gap year to move straight into higher education. The rise in applications is also being stimulated by a sharp increase in the number of students who are reapplying after being rejected last year.
If the current trend continues, it will result in about 705,500 people applying for university this year – up from the record of 688,310 last year.
That will result in almost 226,500 applicants missing a place completely – about a third of those competing for the expected 479,000 vacancies（空缺额） .
The Coalition has already said that the number of university places available this September will be frozen at last year's levels, with institutions fined for over-recruiting.
Sally Hunt, the general secretary of the University and College Union, said, "Rationing higher education, and making it more expensive, at a time when the rest of the world is investing in universities, will seriously risk our standing on the world stage."
Last month, MPs backed plans to increase the cap on tuition fees in England from £3,290 to £9,000 from 2012.
The National Union of Students warned that “many well-qualified applicants look set to have the door slammed（猛烈抨击） in their faces again”.
“The imposition of an arbitrary（任意的，武断的） limit on the number of students will halt the aspiration of well-qualified students of all ages and restrict access to high-level skills at a time of growing unemployment, and when it is essential to invest in economic recovery,” said Aaron Porter, the NUS president.