A PASS rate of 97 per cent at New College has secured more first choice higher education destinations than in recent memory, according to principal Graham Taylor.

A-Level and BTEC Diploma students at the Walcot college descended upon the dining room at 8.30am yesterday morning to rip open their result envelopes.

The principal said many coming into college would have already been aware of where they would be continuing their studies in the autumn, given the real-time information available online.

He also said there was a general trend of fewer prospective undergraduates across the country, which meant those who failed to meet their offers by a small margin had a higher chance of still being accepted.

“There are fewer 18-year-olds this year nationally, so there are more spaces available at universities,” he said.

“This is the first year I have ever come across some e-mails from the universities telling us they still had places left.

“Some of those who haven’t quite made the grade will still get their top place. We have had 658 applying for higher education from here, and well over 500 of those will get in.”

The percentage of students achieving A*, A or B grades was 39 per cent at New College, with 4 per cent of students achieving an A* grade and 21 students achieving three A grades or more.

There was also an increase in the number of subjects in which 16-18-year-old students achieved a perfect 100 per cent pass.

Forty-three out of 58 subjects had a 100 per cent pass rate, compared with 39 subjects out of 55 in 2013.

One of the college’s highest achievers was Harry Jones, 18, of Conan Doyle Walk in Liden, who notched up five A* grades in biology, chemistry, further maths, physics and an extended project qualification.

Harry will go on to study natural sciences at the University of Cambridge in October.

He said: “It’s not usual to do that many. The college didn’t really want me to do that many, but I did my GCSE maths in year nine, which meant I could start my A-Levels earlier too.

“I had an idea I was on track for the grades, but you never really know until the morning you come in.

“I had two weeks of exams which were from absolute hell. I would do an exam, come home and start doing as many past papers as I could for the next day.”

Emma Meeks, 18, of Lindum Road, was rewarded with three C grades for her hard work in English, media and drama.

She will now go and study English with creative writing at Bath Spa University from next month.

“The step up from GCSEs was huge. You can’t underestimate and you have to stick with it, even if you’re not too happy with your AS results.

“I’m just so relieved I got my university place. I hope Bath lives up to my expectations.”