The number of students accepted onto university courses has fallen by two per cent since last year, driven by a fall in students from the EU.
Some 416,310 students have been placed onto courses, data from Ucas suggested, down two per cent from last year's 423,880.
The number of students from the EU has fallen from its peak of 26,830 last year, to 26,090 this year.
It's the first time since the beginning of Ucas' data in 2013 the number of students heading to university has fallen, but the figure is nevertheless the second highest ever recorded. Ucas said the fall was also driven by a drop in the number of older students accepting a place.
The news came as the head of the UK's exam regulator moved to reassure students and their parents, following changes made to how the exams are graded.
This morning Sally Collier said grades will be "fair", after the exams were altered so they only take into account this year's work, rather than factoring in the previous year's AS-Level results as well.
The changes prompted rumours exam boards had been asked to change grade boundaries, Collier told the Guardian:
We have overseen the A-Level awarding process in the same way as in previous years and have not intervened to ask any exam board to change the grade boundaries they have set this summer.