Top universities are competing for bright students as the annual summer scramble for vacant degree places gets under way.
The day after national A-level results were published, some of the UK's leading institutions were taking part in the clearing process to snap up able students who were still looking for places, or seeking to trade their offer.
Almost 30,000 courses were being advertised on the clearing website on Thursday afternoon and 145,730 applicants were eligible for the process, which matches students without places to degrees with vacancies.
Students could begin looking at courses available in clearing and contacting universities about vacancies yesterday, but could not begin making choices through the Ucas website until 5pm last night, with more than 6,000 choices added in the first 10 minutes.
Ucas chief executive Mary Curnock Cook said a lot of the advertised courses would "only be for people who have the very highest grades".
This is because government reforms mean there is no limit on the numbers of students with at least one A and two B grades at A-level that universities can recruit. But she added: "The reality is that there are vacancies across all sorts of courses and institutions."
The major overhaul of higher education means that a number of top institutions that do not always enter clearing are taking part in the process to compete for top students.
A snapshot survey of the Ucas clearing website taken yesterday afternoon by the Press Association found that more than one in 10 courses listed with vacancies were for Russell Group universities.
The Russell Group represents 24 leading institutions including Oxford and Cambridge, neither of which are taking part in clearing. In total, 16 of the 24 universities were advertising vacancies, with more than 3,400 courses on offer for students in England between them.
Russell Group director general Dr Wendy Piatt said: "We hope this year's change to a lower threshold of ABB or equivalent will reduce some of the unintended consequences from last year when students who wanted to attend a leading university and had the right qualifications were not able to - even when those universities wanted to accept them."