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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 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

Some universities are more difficult to get into than others. Places at Oxford and Cambridge are famously competitive. The lower you go in the university 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 acceptance 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. University for the Creative Arts (94.5%)
  2. Bishop Grosseteste University (93%)
  3. Aberystwyth University (92.6%)
  4. University of Sussex (92.2%)
  5. St Mary's University, Twickenham (91.5%)
  6. SOAS, University of London (90%)
  7. University of Kent (89.8%)
  8. Northumbria University (89.3%)
  9. Nottingham Trent University (88.5%)
  10. Canterbury Christ Church University (88%)
  11. Newman University, Birmingham (87.8%)
  12. Harper Adams University (87%)
  13. London Metropolitan University (86.9%)
  14. De Montfort University (86.7%)
  15. York St John University (86.6%)
  16. Cardiff Metropolitan University (86.1%)
  17. University of Winchester (85.8%)
  1. Liverpool Hope University (85.8%)
  1. Royal Holloway, University of London (85.4%)
  2. University of Lincoln (84.9%).

In total, six unis offer places to 90% or more of all applicants.

Interestingly, none of the unis in the top 20 also rank in the top 10 of the UK university league tables.

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Hardest UK universities to get into

Once again based on 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 (19.2%)
  2. University of Cambridge (21.8%)
  3. University of St Andrews (24.7%)
  4. London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) (26.1%)
  5. University College London (UCL) (29.5%)
  6. The University of Edinburgh (29.7%)
  7. Imperial College London (30.1%)
  8. King's College London (39.3%)
  9. St George's, University of London (40%)
  10. University of the Arts London (43.2%)
  11. University of Leeds (47.3%)
  1. University of Strathclyde (47.3%)
  1. Durham University (48%)
  2. Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh (48.5%)
  3. Leeds Arts University (51.5%)
  1. University of Manchester (51.5%)
  1. University of Bristol (52.2%)
  2. University of Bath (55.2%)
  3. London South Bank University (55.5%)
  4. City, University of London (55.9%).

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 30.1%. Meanwhile, the University of Edinburgh's figure stands at 29.7%.

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

University acceptance rates

cambridge university Trinity college building

Credit: Pajor Pawel - Shutterstock

Of course, university admissions are also hugely affected by reputation. The more popular it is, the more applications it will receive. The more applications it receives, the fewer places there are to hand out, and hence the acceptance 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. Loughborough offers places to almost 70% of those who apply, while Exeter offers places to over 60% of applicants.

Taking all universities into consideration, the average acceptance rate is 69.67%. But feel free to use the table below to see how each university compares.

This data shows the acceptance rates for undergraduate applications across all age groups (not just 18-year-olds) to start in September 2022.

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Full list of UK university acceptance rates

RankUniversityAcceptance rate
1University of Oxford19.2%
2University of Cambridge21.8%
3University of St Andrews24.7%
4London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)26.1%
5University College London (UCL)29.5%
6The University of Edinburgh29.7%
7Imperial College London30.1%
8King's College London39.3%
9St George's, University of London40%
10University of the Arts London43.2%
11University of Leeds47.3%
11University of Strathclyde47.3%
13Durham University48%
14Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh48.5%
15Leeds Arts University51.5%
15University of Manchester51.5%
17University of Bristol52.2%
18University of Bath55.2%
19London South Bank University55.5%
20City, University of London55.9%
21University of Dundee56.1%
22University of the West of Scotland56.6%
23Arts University Bournemouth57.5%
24Glasgow Caledonian University57.9%
25Edinburgh Napier University58.7%
26University of Bolton59.2%
27Glyndwr University Wrexham60.1%
28Keele University60.4%
29University of Glasgow61%
30University of Birmingham61.3%
31Queen Mary, University of London61.4%
32University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI)61.5%
33University of Surrey61.9%
34University of Warwick62%
35University of Sunderland62.3%
36University of West London62.5%
37University of Exeter63.3%
37University of Stirling63.3%
39Middlesex University64%
40Robert Gordon University64.3%
41Falmouth University65%
42University of Suffolk65.3%
43University of Hertfordshire65.6%
44Birmingham City University66.1%
45University of Plymouth66.3%
46University of Central Lancashire67.2%
47Loughborough University67.4%
48University of Leicester67.5%
49Edge Hill University67.6%
50University of Nottingham67.7%
51University of Brighton68%
52Anglia Ruskin University68.2%
52Cardiff University68.2%
54University of Huddersfield68.3%
55Queen's University Belfast68.5%
56University of Liverpool69.2%
56University of Southampton69.2%
58Goldsmiths, University of London69.9%
59Aston University Birmingham70.8%
60Bristol, University of the West of England71%
61Buckinghamshire New University71.1%
62Kingston University71.7%
63University of East London71.8%
64University of Greenwich72.1%
65Brunel University London72.4%
66Arts University Plymouth72.9%
66University of Salford72.9%
68University of Essex73.3%
69Norwich University of the Arts73.4%
70Sheffield Hallam University74.2%
71Teesside University Middlesbrough74.4%
72University of Sheffield74.7%
73University of Chester75.2%
74Bournemouth University75.5%
74Manchester Metropolitan University75.5%
76Leeds Beckett University75.6%
77Swansea University75.8%
78University of Aberdeen76%
79University of Chichester76.1%
79University of Hull76.1%
79Ravensbourne University London76.1%
82University of South Wales76.3%
83University of Worcester77%
84Ulster University77.1%
85University of East Anglia (UEA)77.4%
85University of Westminster, London77.4%
87University of Northampton77.8%
88University of Portsmouth77.9%
89Oxford Brookes University78%
89University of Wolverhampton78%
91Newcastle University78.1%
92Bath Spa University78.2%
93University of Cumbria78.3%
94University of York78.7%
95University of Bradford78.9%
95Liverpool John Moores University78.9%
97University of Gloucestershire79.1%
98University of Derby79.2%
99Leeds Trinity University79.6%
100University of Wales Trinity Saint David79.7%
101University College Birmingham80%
101Coventry University80%
103University of Bedfordshire81%
104Heriot-Watt University81.5%
105Bangor University82.2%
106Solent University82.4%
107University of Reading84%
108University of Roehampton84.1%
109Abertay University84.2%
110Plymouth Marjon University84.3%
110Staffordshire University84.3%
112Lancaster University84.7%
113University of Lincoln84.9%
114Royal Holloway, University of London85.4%
115Liverpool Hope University85.8%
115University of Winchester85.8%
117Cardiff Metropolitan University86.1%
118York St John University86.6%
119De Montfort University86.7%
120London Metropolitan University86.9%
121Harper Adams University87%
122Newman University, Birmingham87.8%
123Canterbury Christ Church University88%
124Nottingham Trent University88.5%
125Northumbria University, Newcastle89.3%
126University of Kent89.8%
127SOAS, University of London90%
128St Mary's University, Twickenham91.5%
129University of Sussex92.2%
130Aberystwyth University92.6%
131Bishop Grosseteste University93%
132University for the Creative Arts94.5%

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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