Data published by the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service reveal that 210,022 people – about a third of applicants – were not accepted on to university courses last autumn.
The number of UK students accepted fell by 0.8 per cent, but non-European Union places rose by 12.4 per cent.
EU student numbers, which are subject to the same strict cap on places as UK ones, also went up.
The Ucas figures reveal the final picture of those who applied to start university in 2010.
Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union, said: “Record numbers of students missed out on a university place because the government refused to fund sufficient places and that trend is set to continue this summer. After the government axed the education maintenance allowance, these figures are a reminder of the rationing of opportunity at the higher education level as well.
“The foreign market is a lucrative one for UK universities and these figures suggest that UK students are now disproportionately missing out on places.”
There was a .8 per cent increase in the number of students coming from China.
Paul Marshall, executive director of the 1994 Group of smaller research-intensive universities, said: “Higher education is one of the UK’s most successful export industries and today’s figures show that it is going from strength to strength.
“However, this progress could be brought to an alarming halt if ministers follow through on plans to scrap all visas for international students taking courses below the degree level.”