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Which universities are the easiest to get into?

New UCAS data shows that some universities offer places to over 90% of those who apply – but less than a quarter of Oxford applicants get an offer.

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Credit: Madrugada Verde (background), Dean Drobot (left), Antonio Guillem (right) – Shutterstock

The fact that the application processes for some universities are more competitive than others is nothing new. Oxford and Cambridge are notoriously hard to get into, and the lower down you go in the uni league tables, the easier it gets – or so you might think.

We've crunched the numbers to reveal the percentage of students who receive an offer after applying to each university in the UK, proving once and for all which unis are the toughest nuts to crack.

Use the list and table below to see the offer rate for each uni – there are some surprises in there...

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Easiest UK universities to get into

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Based on the percentage of students who apply to each university and receive an offer, these are the top 20 easiest universities to get into in the UK:

  1. Aberystwyth University (94.4%)
  2. University College Birmingham (93.6%)
  3. University of Roehampton (91.5%)
  4. Newman University, Birmingham (90.8%)
  5. Bishop Grosseteste University (90.6%)
  6. University of Portsmouth (90.4%)
  7. York St John University (88.3%)
  8. Cardiff Metropolitan University (87.9%)
  9. University of Exeter (87.6%)
  10. Royal Holloway, University of London (87.1%)
  11. Abertay University (87.1%)
  12. Bangor University (86.8%)
  13. University of Lincoln (86.5%)
  14. University of Winchester (86.2%)
  15. Northumbria University (86.1%)
  16. University of Sussex (85.8%)
  17. Leeds Trinity University (85.8%)
  18. University of Worcester (85.7%)
  19. Lancaster University (85.7%)
  20. University of Reading (84.6%)

In total, six universities offer places to over 90% of applicants.

But what's most striking is the number of unis in this top 20 which also rank highly in the UK university league tables – Exeter, Sussex and Lancaster are no strangers to the top tier of the rankings, and with offer rates like these, they seem like a sensible choice for any applicant.

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Hardest UK universities to get into

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Once again based upon the percentage of offers made compared to the number of applications received, these are the top 20 hardest universities to get into in the UK:

  1. University of Oxford (22.6%)
  2. University of Cambridge (29%)
  3. London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) (34%)
  4. St George's, University of London (37.8%)
  5. Leeds Arts University (39%)
  6. University of the Arts London (39.7%)
  7. Imperial College London (41.8%)
  8. University of Edinburgh (42.2%)
  9. University of St Andrews (44.7%)
  10. University of Dundee (46.3%)
  11. University of Strathclyde (46.4%)
  12. Glasgow Caledonian University (53.1%)
  13. University College London (UCL) (53.3%)
  14. City, University of London (54.4%)
  15. Edinburgh Napier University (55.3%)
  16. University of Glasgow (55.3%)
  17. Arts University Bournemouth (55.9%)
  18. University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) (56.7%)
  19. King's College London (57.7%)
  20. University of the West of Scotland (59.5%)

Something which definitely won't come as a surprise is the fact that Oxford and Cambridge have landed the top two spots for most difficult unis to get into – with Oxford offering places to less than a quarter of those who apply.

The average student who gets into Oxford has a whopping 215 UCAS points (equivalent to three A*s and one A at A Level), while at Cambridge it's even higher at 224 points (equivalent for four A*s) – so clearly they're going for the best of the best.

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University offer rates

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Of course, offer rates will also be hugely affected by the popularity of a university – the more popular it is, the more applications it'll receive, making places more competitive and offer rates lower. It's not all about great A Level grades and entry requirements.

In some cases offer rates are low because universities have very limited places or cater to a niche subject area – as is the case with the University of the Arts London and Leeds Arts University, which are two of only a few specialist arts universities in the UK.

But some of the best and most prestigious universities in the UK have higher offer rates than you'd expect – Durham and Warwick offer places to over 70% of those who apply, while Exeter offers places to 87.6% of applicants.

Taking all universities into consideration, the average offer rate is 71.44% – but use the table below to see how each university compares.

This data shows the offer rates for undergraduate applications across all age groups (not just 18-year-olds) to start in September 2018.

Full list of UK university offer rates

RankUniversityOffer rate
1University of Oxford22.6%
2University of Cambridge29.0%
3London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)34.0%
4St George's, University of London37.8%
5Leeds Arts University39.0%
6University of the Arts London39.7%
7Imperial College London41.8%
8University of Edinburgh42.2%
9University of St Andrews44.7%
10University of Dundee46.3%
11University of Strathclyde46.4%
12Glasgow Caledonian University53.1%
13University College London (UCL)53.3%
14City, University of London54.4%
15Edinburgh Napier University55.3%
16University of Glasgow55.3%
17Arts University Bournemouth55.9%
18University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI)56.7%
19King's College London57.7%
20University of the West of Scotland59.5%
21University of Manchester59.9%
22University of Stirling59.9%
23London South Bank University60.4%
24Anglia Ruskin University60.6%
25University of West London60.8%
26Birmingham City University61.8%
27SOAS University of London62.3%
28University of Greenwich62.8%
29Plymouth College of Art62.9%
31Queen Margaret University Edinburgh63.2%
32University of Bolton63.3%
33Goldsmiths University of London63.8%
34Harper Adams University64.1%
35University of Surrey65.1%
36University of Leeds65.6%
37Middlesex University66.7%
38Queen Mary, University of London66.8%
39Kingston University67.0%
40University of Essex67.3%
41University of Hertfordshire67.3%
42University of Aberdeen67.5%
43University for the Creative Arts67.8%
44University of Southampton67.9%
45University of East London68.1%
46University of Bristol68.4%
47Edge Hill University68.5%
48Falmouth University68.8%
49Cardiff University71.1%
50University of Central Lancashire71.2%
51Wrexham Glyndŵr University71.2%
52Teesside University71.2%
53Norwich University of the Arts71.4%
54University of Suffolk71.6%
55University of Brighton71.7%
56Durham University71.7%
57University of Warwick71.7%
58Coventry University71.8%
59Manchester Metropolitan University71.9%
60Robert Gordon University71.9%
61University of South Wales72.2%
62Sheffield Hallam University72.6%
63SRUC Scotlands Rural College72.7%
64University of Salford73.0%
65University of Birmingham73.1%
66Bristol University of the West of England73.3%
67University of Nottingham73.3%
68University of Chichester73.4%
69University of Bath73.8%
70London Metropolitan University74.2%
71Bournemouth University74.4%
72University of Cumbria74.6%
73Queen's University Belfast74.7%
74Loughborough University74.8%
75Keele University75.2%
76University of East Anglia UEA75.6%
77Brunel University London76.4%
78University of Huddersfield76.5%
79University of Chester76.8%
80University of Northampton76.8%
81Canterbury Christ Church University77.1%
82Heriot-Watt University77.7%
83Ulster University78.1%
84Leeds Beckett University78.2%
85University of Bedfordshire78.3%
86University of Liverpool78.4%
87Liverpool John Moores University78.4%
88University of Bradford78.5%
89Oxford Brookes University78.8%
90University of Sunderland78.9%
91Swansea University79.0%
92University of Westminster79.0%
93University of Sheffield79.4%
94Staffordshire University79.4%
95University of York79.6%
96University of Leicester79.8%
97Newcastle University80.0%
98Plymouth University80.4%
99De Montfort University80.7%
100University of Derby80.8%
101University of Hull81.1%
102Plymouth Marjon University (St Mark & St John)82.1%
103Southampton Solent University82.2%
104University of Wales. Trinity Saint David82.3%
105University of Gloucestershire82.4%
106Nottingham Trent University82.5%
107Aston University82.7%
108Buckinghamshire New University82.8%
109University of Kent83.2%
110University of Wolverhampton83.2%
111Bath Spa University83.5%
112St Mary's University, Twickenham84.1%
113Liverpool Hope University84.4%
114University of Reading84.6%
115Lancaster University85.7%
116University of Worcester85.7%
117Leeds Trinity University85.8%
118University of Sussex85.8%
119Northumbria University86.1%
120University of Winchester86.2%
121University of Lincoln86.5%
122Bangor University86.8%
123Abertay University87.1%
124Royal Holloway, University of London87.1%
125University of Exeter87.6%
126Cardiff Metropolitan University87.9%
127York St John University88.3%
128University of Portsmouth90.4%
129Bishop Grosseteste University90.6%
130Newman University, Birmingham90.8%
131University of Roehampton91.5%
132University College Birmingham93.6%
133Aberystwyth University94.4%
Has your uni made it into the UK's top 10 this year?

Going to university isn't all about the money, but we'd be lying if we said it wasn't a factor – so check out the graduate salary for your subject.


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