This year's Cambridge university prospectus says: "There is no age requirement for admission ... although the vast majority of undergraduates are 18 years or older when they come into residence. All applicants will need to demonstrate that they have the maturity and personal skills to cope with university level study."
The number of under-18s who accept an offer of a place at the university is between 2- 2.5% of acceptances, a spokesman said. Of those, 71% are 17-year-olds who would turn 18 by January 1 of their first year.
Oxford University said it has 14 students under 18: one is aged 16 and the others are 17.
Degrees of success: young high flyers
Ruth Lawrence graduated from Oxford University aged 13 in 1985, with first-class honours in maths. She was home schooled, and her father rarely left her side at Oxford. She became a professor at 19, but fell out with her dad. Now teaches in Israel and has vowed never to hothouse her own children.
Wang Yinan was 12 when he arrived in the UK from China and within two years was fluent in English. He won a place at Corpus Christi College, Oxford, to study material science two years later in 2005. He had already scored 98% in an Open University maths degree which he took "for fun".
Adam Spencer found Cambridge University was reluctant to offer him a place when he was aged 13, in 2003, partly because of the expense in screening staff to check that they were safe to work with children. Adam was desperate to study biochemistry and had a clutch of good A-levels, but struggled to find a university place. His parents considered sending him to a college abroad.
Dante Minghella, 12, already has an IQ of 170 (the adult national average is approx 100). Dante last year switched from a state primary, having won a scholarship to a private school and was judged to be "supremely gifted". He has weekly meetings with an Oxford lecturer who shares his passion for neuroscience and alien life.