The proportion of students achieving top grades at A-level has fallen for the fourth year in a row, but record numbers have been accepted onto degree courses.
A* and A grades were awarded to 25.9 per cent of entries, down from 26 per cent last year, while overall passes were up by 0.1 per cent.
According to the university and college admissions service, Ucas, over 409,000 pupils have been accepted onto higher education courses in the UK. This represents a three per cent rise on last year's figure and is the highest number ever recorded.
There was a widening of the admissions gender gap, however, with 27,000 more women than men due to begin degrees this year.
The overall A-level pass rate edged up to 98.1 per cent and the proportion getting the very top A* grade remained unchanged at 8.2 per cent, while A grades were down by 0.1 per cent.
Michael Turner, director general of the Joint Council for Qualifications, said: "The overriding message from this year’s figures is one of stability. There have been no significant changes to the system, results are stable and entries follow expected patterns."
Over 850,000 students sat A-levels this year, with maths, English and biology the most popular subjects.
Maths entries rose by 4.4 per cent, meaning almost 3,900 extra students took the subject. Meanwhile, geography enjoyed a 12.7 per cent surge in popularity as 4,188 pupils were entered.
There was mixed news for modern languages. While 1,000 more students were entered for Spanish, there were declines in French and German entries.
Posted by Tim Colman