University places offered through clearing have filled in record time amid the "biggest ever" squeeze on university applications.
Of the estimated 22,000 places in clearing this summer, about half - 12,318 places - were taken by lunchtime on 24 August. This compares with 4,767 of 44,000 places filled at the same point last year.
Universities were inundated with inquiries and many closed their doors to those in clearing just one day after A-level results were published on 20 August. Kingston University's hotline, staffed by student volunteers, received 2,225 phone calls from higher education hopefuls within hours of opening while the University of Gloucestershire received applications from more than 10,000 students for just 2,360 full-time places.
The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service had received more than 1.2 million clearing vacancy searches by midnight on A-level results day - almost twice as many as last year.
By Monday, 141,130 applicants were still looking for places, having received no offers, not met the conditions of their offer, or having applied very late. Last year, 118,511 were in the same situation.
However, the total number with university places has risen to 401,310 - up by 39,550 on last year.
The scramble followed another rise in A-level grades combined with restrictions on university places and record applications to universities.
According to the Joint Council for Qualifications, which represents exam boards, the A-level pass rate increased by 0.3 percentage points from 97.2 per cent to 97.5 per cent.
The results also showed an increase of 0.8 percentage points in the proportion achieving a grade A, with more than one in four entries - 26.7 per cent - reaching the top grade.
The proportion of top A-level grades awarded to independent schools continued to increase. Fifty per cent of all entries from pupils at independent schools received an A grade this year, compared with under 40 per cent at other selective schools and 20 per cent at comprehensives.