In an article entitled 'Universities Spend More to Attract Clearing Students' in the Guardian (Friday 8 August 2014), Richard  Adams and Dominic Smith report that 'Britain's universities are gearing up for a cut-throat battle to attract and recruit students - by making more unconditional offers of places, using sophisticated market, and building prestigious campus developments - spurred on by government changs that are transforming university admissions policies.

'As sixth-formers prepare to open their A-level results on Thursday, university admissions officers are predicting that this year's clearing round – when students who do not attain their expected grades go hunting for places – could be the last of its type.

'The government has raised the limit on total undergraduate numbers by 30,000 for September 2014 – as a halfway house towards removing the limit entirely in 2015, when universities will, in theory, be able to admit as many students as they can handle.

'University admissions officers have told the Guardian they are making more unconditional offers to students, in order to avoid the gamble of clearing, and the danger of being left empty-handed.

'"The game has changed. It feels like the cap is already off because I don't feel like there's another 30,000 capable students out there," said Gary Davies, director of recruitment at the University of Roehampton. "In the last few years we've had change after change, but the biggest one is that clearing in a sense has gone. Most institutions are confirming more students than in the past. We've seen a drop-off in those first frenetic couple of days. Clearing is less a second chance than a late applicant process."

'Ian Denning, recruitment and admissions officer at Coventry University, said there was now "a lot less" of a focus on A-level results day. "In line with other universities, we have made more unconditional offers this year. Our strategy has been to maximise the number of students coming through the main application cycle rather than relying on clearing. We don't want people to decide on Coventry based on a couple of days in August."'

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