As hundreds of thousands of students across the UK receive their exam results, new UCAS figures show that 79% have gained a place at their first choice of university or college.
Posted Thu 17 August 2023 - 08:00

Of UK 18-year-olds that have had a decision made regarding their application today, 79% have secured their first choice. This compares to 81% in 2022 when exams were reintroduced, and 74% in 2019, the last time grading arrangements were the same – according to UCAS data for results day (17 August).

Twelve per cent have been placed at their insurance choice. This compares to 14% in 2019 and 11% in 2022. 

A further 9% have not been placed at their first or insurance choice and are now in Clearing, which compares to 12% in 2019, and 7% in 2022. These students have a wide range of choices, with nearly 29,000 courses available in Clearing this morning, along with 8,000 apprenticeships currently on This compares to about 26,000 courses available in Clearing at the same point last year.

Overall, 414,940 applicants (all ages, all domiciles) have gained a place at university or college – down on 425,830 last year (-2.6%) but an increase on 408,960 in 2019 (+1.5%). For UK 18-year-olds, 230,600 have been accepted, a decline from 238,090 in 2022 (-3.1%) but up on 199,370 in 2019 (+15.7%).

Today’s figures also show:

  • 202,410 UK 18-year-olds have secured their first choice, compared to 176,300 in 2019 (+14.8%). In England, where exams have returned to 2019-grading levels, 170,920 18-year-olds have got their first choice compared to 149,670 four years ago (+14.2%). Furthermore, 8,600 Welsh students, and 7,800 Northern Irish students have secured their first choice.
  • In total, 51,210 international students (all ages, all domiciles) have been accepted – compared to 52,440 last year (-2.3%). The top three countries with placed applicants are China (11,630 acceptances in 2023 compared to 13,180 in 2022), India (4,780 vs 4,050) and Hong Kong (3,050 vs 3,420).
  • The number of 18-year-olds from the most disadvantaged backgrounds in the UK (POLAR4 Quintile 1) to be accepted is 25,760, while 76,780 18-year-olds from the most advantaged backgrounds in the UK (POLAR4 Quintile 5) have got a place – compared to 26,440 disadvantaged and 79,650 advantaged in 2022. This means that for every disadvantaged student, 2.30 advantaged students progress compared to 2.29 last year.
  • There are currently 16,530 England 18-year-old state school applicants accepted in receipt of Free School Meals in 2023. This compares to 14,540 in 2022 (+14%) and 10,320 in 2019 (+60%).
  • This year, 1,830 people with predicted T Levels have applied to higher education – 97% have received at least one offer and 1,220 have been accepted.

UCAS Chief Executive Clare Marchant said: “Firstly, I want to say a huge congratulations to the hundreds of thousands of students up and down the country who are celebrating their results and next steps today. I am delighted to see more than 200,000 UK 18-year-olds have secured their first choice, which is testament to their hard work and commitment to progress to higher education in a year that has seen many complex factors at play, such as geopolitics, the economy and job market, and cost of living.

“However, today’s data shows that challenges in widening participation to the most disadvantaged students still persist. This demonstrates that we all need to continue the efforts to ensure the most disadvantaged individuals in society are able to benefit from life-changing opportunities in higher education and training, particularly as the 18-year-old population grows.

“Today, by opening their personalised UCAS email or logging onto their UCAS account to find out their decision, students will have clear, tailored options set out for them to make their next steps as easy as possible. For anyone who may not have got the results they were hoping for, or for those applicants who want to change their mind, there is plenty of choice in Clearing with nearly 29,000 courses and 8,000 apprenticeships currently available. We also have a team of advisers hard at work to provide students with expert information, advice and guidance on the phones, social media, and on”

UCAS has published a data table showing a breakdown of figures for UK 18-year-old applicants who applied in the main cycle (before 30 June) and are finding out their decision today.






Free to be placed in Clearing 

Applicant who missed the conditions of their offer and now eligible to find places in Clearing 




Holding offer 

Applicants holding offer at June 30 which has yet-to-be-resolved outcome 




Other (Direct to Clearing) 

Applicants who applied Direct to Clearing who have no decision recorded 

Placed (Clearing) 

Applicants who had applied by June 30 who have been placed through Clearing 

Placed (Direct to Clearing) 

Applicants who applied Direct to Clearing who have been placed through Clearing 

Placed (Firm) 

Applicants who had applied by June 30 and accepted to their firm choice institution 




Placed (Insurance) 

Applicants who had applied by June 30 and accepted to their insurance choice institution 




Placed (Other) 

Applicants who had applied by June 30 and accepted to another institution 





Explore our interactive dashboard   


UCAS Press Office

07880488795 (monitored regularly)


UCAS, the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service, is an independent charity, and the UK's shared admissions service for higher education.

Our services support young people making post-18 choices, as well as mature learners, by providing information, advice, and guidance to inspire and facilitate educational progression to university, college, or an apprenticeship.

We manage almost three million applications, from around 700,000 people each year, for full-time undergraduate courses at over 380 universities and colleges across the UK.

We also provide a wide range of research, consultancy and advisory services to schools, colleges, careers services, professional bodies, and employers, including apprenticeships. We’re a successful and fast-growing organisation, which helps hundreds of thousands of people every year.

We're committed to delivering a first-class service to all our customers — they're at the heart of everything we do.

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