Changes announced today to the allocation of university places increase the focus on putting students at the heart of system.

Uncapped recruitment for high achieving students will be further eased in 2013/14. The A-level threshold will lower from AAB+ to ABB+.

A further 5,000 places will be allocated through a competitive core and margin to universities and colleges offering good quality and value for money.

It is expected that a further 35,000 students will now join the pool of unrestricted students which universities can recruit from. In total 120,000 places, one in three, are expected to be freed up.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said:

“These changes will enable more high achieving students to get into their first choice university. At the same time we are also increasing the number of places on courses which offer value for money, backing those universities and colleges which have focused on keeping their costs to students down.”

Universities and Science Minister David Willetts said:

“A third of all students will now be free of number controls. This is what our university reforms are all about – putting choice and power in the hands of students. We are rolling back the controls on places at individual universities that have been a barrier to competition. Students will gain as universities attract them by offering a high-quality academic experience.”

These changes build on the easing of student number controls introduced for the academic year beginning this autumn which will enable universities to recruit as many of the estimated 85,000 students achieving A-level grades of AAB or greater as they wish. Universities and colleges were also allocated 20,000 places through a competitive core and margin in the coming year.