The number of students accepted on to UK degree courses has fallen this year, Ucas figures show.
A total of 425,830 people have had places confirmed – down two percent on the same point last year, according to data published by the university admissions service.
In 2021, a record 435,430 people, from the UK and overseas, had places confirmed.
This year’s figure is the second highest on record, and up 16,870 compared with 2019 when exams were last held.
Ucas said 19 percent more 18-year-olds in the UK achieved a place at either their first or insurance choice this year, compared with 2019.
The number of students from the most disadvantaged backgrounds to gain places on courses is 6,850 this year, up by 3,770 in 2019.
The admissions service said this translates to a narrowing of the gap between the most and least advantaged, with the ratio at 2.36 in 2019, 2.29 this year, and 2.34 in 2021.
The figures came as hundreds of thousands of pupils began to to receive A-level exam results across England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
All students should be proud of their achievements, having dealt with disruption to their schooling during the pandemic, Education Secretary James Cleverly said.
He said: “Every single student collecting their results today should be proud of their achievements. Not only have they studied throughout the pandemic, but they are the first group in three years to sit exams.
“For that, I want to congratulate them and say a huge thank you to those who helped them get to this point.”
The results will be a testament to students’ resilience and hard work, as well as the efforts of their teachers, the Association of Colleges chief executive David Hughes said.
He added: “The class of 2022 has faced unprecedented disruption to their education and many have never taken public exams before due to the pandemic.
“So, their achievements are a testament to their resilience and hard work throughout this period, and to their outstanding teachers and support staff who have helped them to achieve success.”
The number of students accepted on to UK degree courses has fallen this year, Ucas figures show PA
Students have began receiving their A-level results Joe Giddens