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Freshers

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 fifth of Oxford applicants get an offer.

two excited happy students looking at their phones

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

The application process for some unis is more competitive than others. Oxford and Cambridge are famously difficult to get into, and the lower 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

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

  1. Aberystwyth University (97.6%)
  2. Bishop Grosseteste University (95.1%)
  3. Ravensbourne University London (95.1%)
  4. University for the Creative Arts (92.4%)
  5. University of Sussex (91.8%)
  6. Plymouth College of Art (91.5%)
  7. Coventry University (91.3%)
  8. University of Wolverhampton (90.8%)
  9. York St John University (90.8%)
  10. Cardiff Metropolitan University (90.2%)
  11. University of Kent (90.2%)
  12. Nottingham Trent University (90.1%)
  13. University College Birmingham (89.9%)
  14. De Montfort University (89.5%)
  15. SOAS University of London (89.1%)
  16. Northumbria University Newcastle (88.9%)
  17. University of Wales Trinity Saint David (88.7%)
  18. Liverpool Hope University (88.5%)
  19. Lancaster University (88.2%)
  20. St Mary's University, Twickenham (88%).

In total, 12 unis offer places to over 90% of applicants.

Interestingly, none of the unis in the top 20 also rank in the UK university league tables.

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Hardest UK universities to get into

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

  1. University of Oxford (19.1%)
  2. University of Cambridge (21.6%)
  3. London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) (21.9%)
  4. University of St Andrews (25%)
  5. Imperial College London (32.5%)
  6. St George's, University of London (35.3%)
  7. The University of Edinburgh (39.3%)
  8. University College London (UCL) (42.8%)
  9. University of the Arts London (43.8%)
  10. University of Strathclyde (44.9%)
  11. Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh (49.3%)
  12. Leeds Arts University (49.6%)
  13. Glasgow Caledonian University (51.8%)
  14. King's College London (52.9%)
  15. University of the West of Scotland (52.9%)
  16. City, University of London (53.7%)
  17. University of Dundee (53.9%)
  18. University of Glasgow (56.3%)
  19. University of Stirling (57.9%)
  20. Edinburgh Napier University (58.4%).

Something which won't surprise anyone is that Oxford and Cambridge are the two most difficult unis to get into. In fact, Oxford offers places to less than a fifth of those who apply.

But it may reassure you to know that beyond Oxbridge, some of the best unis in the UK offer places to around a third of their applicants. Imperial College London, for instance, has an acceptance rate of 32.5%. Meanwhile, The University of Edinburgh's figure stands at 39.3%.

More traditional league tables are worth looking at too. Has your uni made it into the UK's top 10 this year?

University offer rates

cambridge university Trinity college building

Credit: Pajor Pawel - Shutterstock

Of course, offer rates are also hugely affected by the reputation of a university. The more popular it is, the more applications it'll receive. The more applications it receives, the fewer places there are to hand out, and hence the offer rate is lower. It's not all about great A Level grades and entry requirements.

In some cases, offer rates are low because unis have a limited number of places or cater to a niche subject area. This is likely to be true of the University of the Arts London and Leeds Arts University (two of only a few specialist arts universities in the UK). It may also apply to St George's, University of London, which is exclusively a medical school.

But some of the best and most prestigious universities in the UK have higher offer rates than you'd expect. Durham offers places to over 70% of those who apply, while Exeter offers places to almost 80% of applicants.

Taking all universities into consideration, the average offer rate is 72.43%. But feel free to 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 2021.

Full list of UK university offer rates

RankUniversityOffer rate
1University of Oxford19.1%
2University of Cambridge21.6%
3London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)21.9%
4University of St Andrews25%
5Imperial College London32.5%
6St George's, University of London35.3%
7The University of Edinburgh39.3%
8University College London (UCL)42.8%
9University of the Arts London43.8%
10University of Strathclyde44.9%
11Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh49.3%
12Leeds Arts University49.6%
13Glasgow Caledonian University51.8%
14King's College London52.9%
15University of the West of Scotland52.9%
16City, University of London53.7%
17University of Dundee53.9%
18University of Glasgow56.3%
19University of Stirling57.9%
20Edinburgh Napier University58.4%
21University of West London59.1%
22University of Bolton59.3%
23University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI)59.7%
24University of Manchester60.2%
25Robert Gordon University61.1%
26University of Bath62.7%
27London South Bank University63%
28Arts University Bournemouth63.5%
29University of Southampton63.9%
30Birmingham City University64.1%
31University of Leeds64.5%
32Queen Mary, University of London64.5%
33University of Surrey64.5%
34University of Birmingham64.6%
35University of Bristol64.6%
36University of Greenwich65.1%
37University of Warwick65.1%
38Middlesex University66.3%
39University of Hertfordshire67.8%
40Queens University Belfast67.9%
41Edge Hill University68.1%
42University of Central Lancashire68.9%
43University of Leicester69%
44Keele University69.4%
45University of Sunderland69.4%
46Cardiff University70.3%
47University of Aberdeen70.5%
48University of Brighton71%
49Durham University71%
50Anglia Ruskin University71.2%
51University of Nottingham71.9%
52University of Plymouth71.9%
53Goldsmiths, University of London72%
54University of Huddersfield72%
55University of Liverpool72.3%
56Wrexham Glyndŵr University72.5%
57Kingston University72.6%
58University of Suffolk72.7%
59Sheffield Hallam University73.7%
60University of the West of England, Bristol73.8%
61Teesside University73.8%
62University of East London74.3%
63Loughborough University74.4%
64Swansea University74.4%
65University of Cumbria74.5%
66University of Essex74.5%
67Bournemouth University74.9%
68University of Sheffield75.6%
69University of Chester75.8%
70Falmouth University75.9%
71Buckinghamshire New University77.1%
72University of Hull77.1%
73University of Chichester77.2%
74Manchester Metropolitan University77.3%
75University of Salford77.6%
76University of East Anglia (UEA)77.7%
77University of South Wales77.8%
78Norwich University of the Arts77.9%
79Newcastle University78%
80Ulster University78%
81University of Bedfordshire79.2%
82University of Exeter79.2%
83Staffordshire University79.2%
84University of Northampton79.3%
85Leeds Beckett University79.4%
86Oxford Brookes University79.5%
87Bath Spa University80.1%
88University of Gloucestershire80.7%
89Brunel University London81.4%
90Liverpool John Moores University81.6%
91Aston University Birmingham81.7%
92University of Bradford81.7%
93University of Westminster, London81.7%
94University of Derby81.9%
95Harper Adams University83.1%
96Abertay University83.5%
97Newman University, Birmingham83.5%
98University of York83.6%
99Heriot-Watt University84.3%
100University of Portsmouth84.3%
101University of Lincoln84.5%
102University of Worcester84.7%
103Royal Holloway, University of London84.9%
104Bangor University85%
105Canterbury Christ Church University85.7%
106Leeds Trinity University85.9%
107London Metropolitan University86.2%
108Plymouth Marjon University86.8%
109University of Roehampton87%
110University of Reading87.1%
111University of Winchester87.1%
112Solent University87.4%
113St Mary's University, Twickenham88%
114Lancaster University88.2%
115Liverpool Hope University88.5%
116University of Wales Trinity Saint David88.7%
117Northumbria University Newcastle88.9%
118SOAS, University of London89.1%
119De Montfort University89.5%
120University College Birmingham89.9%
121Nottingham Trent University90.1%
122Cardiff Metropolitan University90.2%
123University of Kent90.2%
124University of Wolverhampton90.8%
125York St John University90.8%
126Coventry University91.3%
127Plymouth College of Art91.5%
128University of Sussex91.8%
129University for the Creative Arts92.4%
130Bishop Grosseteste University95.1%
131Ravensbourne University London95.1%
132Aberystwyth University97.6%

Going to uni 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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