1. ITV Report

Clearing rush on at North East universities

Snippets of people's dreams and ambitions buzz around the Northumbria University clearing centre. A caller politely says into the phone: "Three-year course, yes?"

Another: "I'm just going to work out your UCAS tariff for that."

Then (what nobody wants to hear): "Unfortunately the building and surveying course actually asks for 280 Ucas points."

The university has had more than 3,000 calls for 300 places. At Sunderland University it was closer to 5,000.

Miriam Clift, Admissions Manager at Northumbria, explained how the phone never stops ringing.

"It's extraordinarily busy this year. We do have a range of staff available: admissions staff and students who are manning our hotlines and they have been frantically busy for the last few days - making sure everyone has been given the right advice and information."

Despite the rush, applications to all our universities apart from Durham fell. Similarly, fewer people applied to go through clearing this year.

It is why our universities are so keen on attracting the right - and the best- candidates.

For the first time they can recruit as many AAB applicants as they like.

At Northumbria, the tactic is about giving people as much information as possible. Today, it threw together an ad-hoc 'Open Day' for clearing students. Within minutes of opening, there were families streaming in to find out what life on Tyneside is really like.

One student, who got in through clearing, said: "I'm just hoping it'll be a nice place to live, I mean, nobody seems put out by living here."

But 'clearing' is not just important for universities. It can be all-or-nothing for students.

Becky Rolfe, from Whitby, did not get the grades she wanted at A-Level.

She said: "It is horrible because your whole world has ended. You've worked so hard and you've made this big decision about what you want to do with the rest of your life. And just because some exams haven't worked it means you can't do it.

"I was a bit further off and then I really did give up and then my maths teacher came up and was like: 'You can still go to university, just because they're a bit lower you can still go!'

Becky eventually got into Northumbria through clearing and achieved a 'First' in her first year.

It is a good example of how beneficial the system can be, but with thousands of people now paying up to £9,000 per year for the privilege, it is all now about the experience once they have got in.