CELEBRATIONS are breaking out across the county today as A-level students revel in another record-breaking year.
But despite achieving the best results ever recorded in further education, many will face disappointment as the battle begins for the last remaining university places.
When the euphoria of achieving high grades has worn off, many students will still face an anxious wait as this year the competition for a place at university is fiercer than ever.
Nationally, the proportion of students achieving A* to E grades is expected to rise for the 28th year in a row.
But as well as higher numbers gaining good grades, experts predict that there will be more than ever who miss out – including many who have done well in their studies. It is estimated that across the country up to 200,000 students could miss out on places.
With university places at a premium, it is feared that even missing out by one grade could lead to heartache with so many people fighting to get on courses.
The clearing process – when students who have not achieved the grades they needed for their chosen universities try to find places elsewhere – is expected to be shorter than ever this year.
The universities of Southampton and Winchester say that they will be able to accept only very limited numbers of students through clearing, and only on a handful of courses.
At Southampton Solent University, bosses expect to offer between 150 and 200 places, but they are likely to be snapped up in record time.
This year has seen the introduction of a new A* grade which, as with its equivalent in GCSEs, is designed to help distinguish top performers.
About seven per cent of students are expected to achieve that level, which has been demanded by some of the country’s top universities.
Despite several colleges and sixth forms achieving record-breaking years it still may not be enough.
Barton Peveril principal Jonathan Prest said that students are facing a tougher time this year.
He said: “There’s no doubt that many will have felt under additional pressure due to the squeeze on university places and the introduction of the A* grade, which Cambridge and a small number of other universities have included in their entry requirements.
“Results day is always a rollercoaster ride. But the most important thing to remember is that anyone who needs to action Plan B will find careers advisers and other staff here at college and in universities around the country pulling out all the stops to find the best way forward.”