A-levels exam genes
Girls continue to get better grades than boys, however, the overall number of A* and A grades appears to be declining. Christopher Furlong/Getty

A record number of UK university places have been awarded to students this year after a marginal drop in the top A-level grades. The number of A* and A grades decreased by 0.1% from last year's results, making up only 25.8% of the results.

Thousands of teenagers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland received their A-level and AS results on 18 August, which determines whether they got into the university of their choice after meeting their university's grade requirement. According to UCAS, more than 400,000 university places were offered, which is an increase of 3% from the same day last year.

Many places are still available through the clearing system, which allows for students who did not meet their required grade and, therefore, need to apply to a different university. Despite the number of top A-level grades falling slightly, the pass rate of 98.1% remained the same.

According to the BBC, universities have said that this year could be a "buyer's market" for applicants due to the fact that there has been a decline in the number of 18-year-olds and the cap on the number of places universities in England can offer has been removed.

Michael Turner, director general of the Joint Council for Qualifications, said: "Overall, outcomes are relatively unchanged."

He noted that girls have continued to get better grades than their male counterparts, with 79.7% of girls getting grades between an A* and C, compared with 75% of boys. However, the gap between the top-performing girls and boys has narrowed for the first time in five years.

Additionally, it was noted that there has been a decline in the number of students choosing to study modern languages. Malcolm Trobe, leader of the ASCL head teachers' union, said that this could be due to the fact that schools are under increasing funding pressures and cannot afford subjects with only a few students.