The 20 hardest universities to be accepted into in the UK

Holly Smith·14 September 2016·6 min read
The 20 hardest universities to be accepted into in the UK

According to The Complete University Guide’s 2017 ranking, these are the hardest universities in the UK to get into. They’re ranked by points – which indicate the UCAS tariff score of new undergraduates. The UCAS points all add up to give an overall number and they are then adjusted to take account of the subject mix at the university.

20. University of Newcastle


430 points

Is this potentially the hardest university to get into the world?

Newcastle is one the country’s biggest and most popular universities. They typically only accept students, for most courses, who get ABB or higher. They also judge your application as a whole to see how likely you are to succeed at their institution.

19. University of York


430 points

As one of the youngest universities that has rocketed into the World Top 100 tables, York has a reputation second to none. Typically their offer range is AAA-BBB depending on the course you wish to pursue.

18. University of Surrey


431 points

The University of Surrey is number one for graduate employability when compared with chartered universities in England. Which is no wonder why it’s one of the hardest universities in the UK to be accepted into. Their intake typically receive grades AAB-ABB at A-Level.

17. University of Manchester


433 points

Is the university of Manchester hard to get into?

With Brian Cox as a lecturer, Manchester’s Physics department is world renowned, but you’ll need A*A*A to get onto his courses. However, most of the courses offer students places if they get AAB-BBB.

16. University of Aberdeen


441 points

Aberdeen is the fifth oldest university in the UK and the region boasts the highest concentration of health and life scientists anywhere in Europe. To be a part of it, you’ll need AAB-BBB at A-Level.

15. Kings College London


462 points

As the oldest and largest members of the University of London, KCL is probably the university with the best location in the entire country. Their typical entry requirements are A*AA- BBB, so make sure you revise well for your exams!

14. University of Exeter

Stock - Exeter University

466 points

Typical entry standards are A*AA-BBB depending on the course you want to study. Renowned for their English and Modern Languages departments, you’ll be up against the best of the best.

13. University of Glasgow


467 points

Glasgow’s huge student population makes it extremely popular, which is probably why the entry standards are so high. You’ll want to achieve AAB-ABB to get into this university.

12. University of Strathclyde


470 points

Even though this university has high entry standards, it actually ranked quite poorly in the overall ratings (46th place), mainly due to a poor student satisfaction. However, as the 12th hardest university to get into in the UK, you’ll need AAA-ABB.

11. University of Bristol


476 points

Bristol was the first university in the country to admit women on an equal basis to men. You’ll need between A*AA – ABB.

10. University of Bath


478 points

Bath ranks high for student experience most years, but you’ll need to try hard to get accepted. For science – based degrees, they request typically AAA/A*AB, but for foreign languages you can get in with just ABB

9. University of Edinburgh

Old College Quad

485 points

The university has a very prestigious reputation around the world, and their entry standards reflects this. They look for A-Levels of at least ABB-AAA depending on the course you want to study.

8. University of Warwick


485 points

Not one you’d expect to be quite so high, Warwick proves itself as rather hard to get into. The Maths department is highly regarded in particular. You’ll have to get at least 1 A* (in maths) if you want to pursue it here though! But for humanity subjects you’ll be able to scrape in with ABB.

7. University College London


505 points

UCL prides itself on being the first university in England to admit students of any race, class or religion. Expect to get between A*AA-AAB to study here though!

  1. London School of Economics


518 points

If you’re looking to study Economics here, you’ll need at least A*AA, with an A* in Maths. However, the university also specialises in subjects ranging from Anthropology to Criminology – for which the minimum is AAB

5. University of St Andrews


520 points

Typically you’ll need AAA to secure a place in this prestigious Scottish university. Maybe you’ll find your prince there too?

4. Durham University


524 points

For most core subjects, you’ll now need a minimum of A*AA to be accepted. These include English, Law, Geography, Physics, as well as more. Find out more here.

3. Imperial College London


567 points

Imperial has the best reputation among the London universities. It’s a world leader in global health and climate change, and its research centre has one of the largest incomes in the UK. They say you’ll need between AAA – A*A*A to be considered here.

2. University of Oxford


574 points

As the oldest in the English-speaking world, Oxford is a world leader amongst universities. They won’t even look at you if you don’t get at least AAA in your A-Levels. You’ll also need to show them what you’re capable of in their stringent interview phase too.

1. University of Cambridge


600 points

Named as the 4th best university in the world, Cambridge student will need at least a hefty A*A*A to get in, as well as acing the seemingly impossible interviews and entry exams.


An in case you wanted to know, the easiest to get into are:

  1. Bedfordshire

234 points

  1. Glyndwr

236 points

  1. London Met

247 points

  1. London South Bank

254 points

  1. Anglia Ruskin

254 points

  1. Buckinghamshire New

256 points

  1. Canterbury Christ Church

270 points

  1. Staffordshire

274 points

  1. Southampton Solent

275 points

  1. Roehampton

275 points