The UKs top universities are beleived to be offering to pay students up to £2,000 each to take a gap year after accepting more applicants than there are places available.
Russell Group universities have offered students big sums of money, preferential treatment towards 'first-choice' accommodation and help with paying the costs, and even paid work experience, in return for delaying their studies by a year.
According to reports the decision to defer applications by a year follows a rise in tuition fees to £9,250 in 2017, and the end of a cap on numbers, as the higher education institutions scramble to fill their open positions with Britain's very best and brightest.
Now that students can apply to up to five universities at once, admissions departments have been making more offers than they can accept. This has led to universities such as Nottingham, Exeter, and Manchester offering lucrative sums to put off applicants for a year.
The Times reported that the Freedom of Information requests show that Nottingham offered 260 medical course applicants £2,000 to defer their studies for a year, while 59 graduate entry nursing applicants were offered £1,000 each.
Of those medical applicants offered the large sums to take a gap year, five accepted. None of those planning to study nursing agreed.
Imperial College London asked medical applicants to delay their entry from 2014 to 2015, in exchange for a 'paid-for eight-month project in the UK or overseas'.
Up in the North West, the University of Manchester offered £1,000 to 190 management course applicants in 2018 to delay studies by one year. And in the North East, the University of Sunderland gave 10 paramedic applicants £4,000 each to defer entry from last April to last September.