The number of students taking a gap year is up 7.3 per cent on last year, according to figures released this week.
More than 22,000 students have accepted a full-time place starting in autumn 2001, compared with 20,500 last year, according to the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service.
Tony Higgins, Ucas chief executive, said: "The statistics show that more people are taking a year out. Many of them use that time to travel or to earn money to help pay their way through college."
More than 8.5 per cent of school-leavers have applied for deferred entry. The actual number taking a gap year will be higher as some will apply during their gap year.
The Ucas data, which also shows trends among older applicants, reveals that mature students are faring even worse than feared, deterred by the new funding arrangements for full-time higher education.
The number of accepted applicants aged over 25 years is down 2.9 per cent on this time last year, with the number of successful male applicants in this age group down 6.1 per cent. The number of accepted applicants aged over 21 years is down 0.5 per cent.
Scottish institutions appear to be recovering from the Scottish Qualification Authority's delays in issuing and revising exam results.
The number of successful Scottish applicants is up 3.5 per cent on last year. However, the total number of applicants accepted by a Scottish institution is still down by 0.8 per cent.
In England, acceptances are up 1.2 per cent. Wales and Northern Ireland showed gains of 0.1 per cent and 8.3 per cent respectively.
Overall, applications are down 0.5 per cent, while successful applications are up 1.1 per cent.