Fewer pupils from state schools were admitted to university this year amid an unprecedented demand for places, figures show.
The number of students accepted on to degree courses from comprehensives dropped by 0.5 per cent, despite sharp increases in 2008 and 2009.
The figures show that privately educated students are tightening their grip on top universities, taking the lead in the race for elite A* grades.
The number from comprehensives winning university places dropped from 120,544 in 2009 to 119,955 this year, even though they put in 5.8 per cent more applications.
The figures suggest that some of the best state pupils may have suffered because their teachers failed to predict the A* grades they would go on to achieve.
This is important because universities partly base their offers on the grades predicted by teachers.
Universities offered more places than ever this year after increasing recruitment from overseas.
The figures show more than one in five places at prestigious Russell Group universities went to students from private schools, who make up just seven per cent of total pupils.
Many of the 209,253 applicants who missed out this year will try again in 2011, heaping further pressure on admissions.
Demand for places is believed to have been fuelled by a lack of jobs in the economic downturn combined with thousands of students reapplying after being turned away a year earlier.
David Willetts, the Universities Minister, said: "Going to university has always been a competitive process and not all who apply are accepted.
'Despite this we do understand how frustrating it is for young people who wish to go to university and are unable to secure a place.
'However, almost half of those without a university place at the end of clearing had either rejected an offer or chosen to withdraw from the process.
'There are other routes into a successful career. The Government has invested in additional apprenticeships, and we can help with getting a job or starting a business.'
Has your child been able to get into university this year?
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