The number of students entering full-time higher education this year is up 1 per cent on 1998, according to figures from the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service. Universities and colleges had a smaller pool to choose from, however. The number of applicants was down by 1 per cent. Despite this, the proportion gaining places through clearing was down by almost 5 per cent. There was a 2 per cent drop in entry into higher education by mature students aged over 21 years.