UNIVERISTIES this year are promising students free flights, gifts and up to £10,000 in cash to fill places.

Just days before the main deadline to apply to courses starting in autumn 2014, it emerged that rising numbers of universities are offering hugely generous incentives.

Many universities are promising cash contributions towards living costs or substantial discounts on fees.

Newman University in Birmingham says all students with BBB grades – or better – will get £10,000 over three years if they make the institution their firm choice on application forms.

Queens University Belfast will hand AAB students from mainland Britain up to £1,750 a year plus benefits, including three annual flights home, a free cinema pass, sports club membership, bedding and kitchen equipment and a first-year upgrade to ensuite accommodation; Other universities are offering academic scholarships including Lancaster, Leicester, Liverpool Hope, Northumbria and Plymouth.