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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.

two excited happy students looking at their phones

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

The application process for some universities is more competitive than others. 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

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 (96.6%)
  2. Bishop Grosseteste University (94.5%)
  3. Ravensbourne University London (92.9%)
  4. University for the Creative Arts (92.5%)
  5. Plymouth College of Art (91.1%)
  6. University of Sussex (89.3%)
  7. University of Roehampton (89.3%)
  8. Northumbria University (85.5%)
  9. Nottingham Trent University (88.6%)
  10. University of Kent (88.6%)
  11. York St John University (88.5%)
  12. Liverpool Hope University (88.1%)
  13. Coventry University (87.8%)
  14. London Metropolitan University (87.5%)
  15. University of Exeter (87.5%)
  16. University of Wales Trinity Saint David (87.4%)
  17. Newman University, Birmingham (87.0%)
  18. University College Birmingham (87.0%)
  19. University of Winchester (86.7%)
  20. Cardiff Metropolitan University (86.7%)

In total, five 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 – in particular, Sussex and Exeter. Both unis are no strangers to the top tier of the traditional university 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

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 (21.5%)
  2. University of Cambridge (26.5%)
  3. London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) (36.5%)
  4. St George's, University of London (38.7%)
  5. University of St Andrews (41.0%)
  6. Imperial College London (42.9%)
  7. Leeds Arts University (43.5%)
  8. University of the Arts London (43.5%)
  9. University of Strathclyde (48.0%)
  10. University of Bolton (50.6%)
  11. The University of Edinburgh (51.0%)
  12. Arts University Bournemouth (51.8%)
  13. University of Dundee (52.0%)
  14. Glasgow Caledonian University (54.5%)
  15. City, University of London (54.8%)
  16. Edinburgh Napier University (55.8%)
  17. University College London (UCL) (56.6%)
  18. University of the West of Scotland (57.0%)
  19. Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh (57.3%)
  20. University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) (58.5%)

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 200 UCAS points (equivalent to two A*s, one A and a B at A Level), while at Cambridge it's even higher at 205 points (roughly equivalent to two A*s and two As) – so clearly they're going for the best of the best.

However, it may reassure you to know that beyond Oxbridge, some of the very best unis in the UK are offering places to around half of their applicants. Imperial College London has an acceptance rate of 42.9%, while The University of Edinburgh's figure stands at 51.0% – so if you think you can get the grades, it's worth applying!

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 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 a limited number of places or cater to a niche subject area. This is likely to be the case with the University of the Arts London and Leeds Arts University (two of only a few specialist arts universities in the UK), as well as 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 and Bath offer places to over 70% of those who apply, while Exeter offers places to 87.5% of applicants.

Taking all universities into consideration, the average offer rate is 72.82% – 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 2020.

Full list of UK university offer rates

RankUniversityOffer rate
1University of Oxford21.5%
2University of Cambridge26.5%
3London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)36.5%
4St George's, University of London38.7%
5University of St Andrews41.0%
6Imperial College London42.9%
7Leeds Arts University43.5%
8University of the Arts London45.5%
9University of Strathclyde48.0%
10University of Bolton50.6%
11The University of Edinburgh51.0%
12Arts University Bournemouth51.8%
13University of Dundee52.0%
14Glasgow Caledonian University54.5%
15City, University of London54.8%
16Edinburgh Napier University55.8%
17University College London (UCL)56.6%
18University of the West of Scotland57.0%
19Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh57.3%
20University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI)58.5%
21King's College London59.4%
22University of Manchester59.7%
23University of West London59.9%
24University of Glasgow60.5%
25University of Surrey63.8%
26Falmouth University64.0%
27Birmingham City University64.4%
28University of Greenwich64.6%
29Queen Mary, University of London64.6%
30University of Leeds65.7%
31Robert Gordon University66.3%
32University of Stirling67.2%
33Anglia Ruskin University67.4%
34University of Southampton67.8%
35Wrexham Glyndŵr University68.0%
36Goldsmiths, University of London68.3%
37Middlesex University68.3%
38University of Aberdeen68.5%
39University of Warwick68.7%
40Manchester Metropolitan University69.1%
41University of Suffolk69.1%
42Norwich University of the Arts69.3%
43London South Bank University69.5%
44Harper Adams University70.0%
45University of Central Lancashire70.6%
46University of Hertfordshire70.6%
47University of Birmingham70.8%
48University of Sunderland70.8%
49University of the West of England, Bristol71.0%
50University of Essex71.1%
51University of Brighton71.3%
52Edge Hill University71.7%
53University of Bristol71.8%
54Kingston University71.9%
55Durham University72.2%
56University of Plymouth72.2%
57University of Cumbria73.0%
58University of East London73.1%
59Cardiff University73.4%
60University of Bath73.7%
61Queens University Belfast73.7%
62University of Chichester74.1%
63University of Leicester74.2%
64Teesside University74.3%
65University of South Wales74.4%
66Sheffield Hallam University74.7%
67Loughborough University74.9%
68University of Nottingham75.2%
69University of Chester75.4%
70University of Hull75.7%
71University of Salford75.7%
72University of Huddersfield75.9%
73University of Sheffield76.2%
74University of Bedfordshire76.4%
75Bournemouth University77.4%
76Keele University77.9%
77SOAS University of London78.0%
78Leeds Beckett University78.1%
79University of Liverpool78.1%
80Oxford Brookes University78.8%
81Bath Spa University79.0%
82De Montfort University79.3%
83University of East Anglia (UEA)79.4%
84Heriot-Watt University79.4%
85University of Northampton79.5%
86Buckinghamshire New University79.6%
87University of Derby80.0%
88Newcastle University80.2%
89Swansea University80.2%
90Liverpool John Moores University80.6%
91University of Gloucestershire80.7%
92University of Westminster, London80.7%
93University of Bradford80.8%
94Aston University Birmingham81.0%
95Staffordshire University81.1%
96University of York81.4%
97Ulster University82.3%
98Brunel University London82.4%
99Bangor University82.6%
100Canterbury Christ Church University82.7%
101University of Lincoln83.0%
102Solent University83.2%
103University of Worcester83.3%
104University of Wolverhampton83.9%
105Abertay University84.0%
106Plymouth Marjon University84.4%
107St Mary's University, Twickenham84.7%
108Lancaster University85.4%
109University of Reading85.8%
110University of Portsmouth85.9%
111Royal Holloway, University of London86.0%
112Leeds Trinity University86.4%
113Cardiff Metropolitan University86.7%
114University of Winchester86.7%
115University College Birmingham87.0%
116Newman University, Birmingham87.0%
117University of Wales Trinity Saint David87.4%
118University of Exeter87.5%
119London Metropolitan University87.5%
120Coventry University87.8%
121Liverpool Hope University88.1%
122York St John University88.5%
123University of Kent88.6%
124Nottingham Trent University88.6%
125Northumbria University88.7%
126University of Roehampton89.3%
127University of Sussex89.3%
128Plymouth College of Art91.1%
129University for the Creative Arts92.5%
130Ravensbourne University London92.9%
131Bishop Grosseteste University94.5%
132Aberystwyth University96.6%

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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