There are around 130 universities and higher education colleges in the UK and around 400,000 students looking for places each year on undergraduate courses. Each university wants the best students it can get, and so inevitably there is competition across institutions in terms of attracting students to apply to them. 

Universities are ranked across the UK according to a wide range of statistics such as entrance grades, degree level gained, and where graduates work. Guides to UK rankings can be found in several places online such as The Complete University Guide, The Times Higher Education website and The Guardian’s league tables. 

There is also the Russell Group of universities, an independent organisation of 24 leading universities who, in their own words, “are committed to maintaining the very best research, an outstanding teaching and learning experience and unrivalled links with business and the public sector”

It’s no coincidence and probably no surprise that the 24 universities in the Russell Group are also the 24 top universities in the country in all of the rankings, including Oxford and Cambridge. This separation from the rest of the UK universities means that they are viewed as the more prestigious and higher achieving universities in the country, and they are therefore very competitive. 

Here are the five universities which ask for the highest UCAS points and are therefore considered the hardest to get into, making spaces highly sought after:

  1. The University of Cambridge 

Average UCAS entry requirements: 567 points

It’s no surprise that one of the oldest universities in the world would be near, or at the top of this list. 89 graduates have won Nobel Prizes since its inception in 1904, and numerous leaders in education, politics, literature, the arts and science have been educated here. 

  1. The University of Oxford
    Average UCAS entry requirements: 546 points

    The second oldest university in the world, (after the University of Bologna) surprisingly comes in second here. 26 British prime ministers are Oxford graduates, and the university continues to be considered one of the best institutions for those considering a career in politics.
  1. Imperial College London
    Average UCAS entry requirements: 519 points

    London attracts hundreds of thousands of students a year and is especially attractive to overseas students who want to study and live within the country’s capital. It’s not surprising then that two London institutions are in the top 5 in terms of competitiveness. Imperial College has a very large medical faculty which contributes to its competitiveness, as well as it’s courses in business and engineering.
  2. London School of Economics and Political Science
    Average UCAS entry requirements: 499 points

It’s not surprising that a university which focuses on economics and politics is in the top 5 most competitive universities as the sectors which its graduates work in is one of the most competitive in the world. At its current site since 1902 the university has grown in its reputation and competitiveness in the last few decades.

  1. Durham University
    Average UCAS entry requirements: 485 points

    The most competitive of the Northern universities, Durham is another university which works on a college system, similar to Oxford and Cambridge. This means that each college asks for different points for entry – meaning you can not only compete to get into this university but also to get into the best college at the university. 

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