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What does the percentage of applicants receiving course offers tell me?

The number of applicants receiving course offers can help you work out how popular particular courses and unis are, but what does the figure actually mean?

You can find out the percentage of applicants receiving offers for the subject you're applying to by looking up your course using our course search

1. It gives you some idea of the competition

Knowing how many applicants ended up receiving offers from a course can be a helpful indicator of competition, but bear in mind that it doesn’t tell you:
  • the number of applicants with that course in mind as their number one choice
  • the number of applicants who go on to accept the course offer as their first or insurance choice, and how many reject the offer.
If you’re interested in a field with only a limited number of degrees – such as marine biology or embroidery – it probably won’t be all that insightful as you’re likely to be up against similar applicants each time.


2. It’s a popular subject

Some degrees are eternally in demand, such as medicine, physiotherapy and psychology, so you should expect it to follow that the number of applications will be higher than other courses (and therefore the proportion of applicants receiving offers will be lower overall). What it doesn’t tell you is who you’re up against, and how many of those applicants will be rejected.


3. It’s fallen from favour

If a high proportion of applicants receive offers from that course, it can tell you something about the number of applicants actually applying. Courses and subjects can go in and out of fashion, with applicant numbers affected by external factors such as the economy, job prospects and good and bad publicity.

This shouldn’t necessarily put you off. Three or four years later, the outlook may be very different, and graduates with specific skills can be highly sought after if there’s a lack of them about – modern language grads, for instance.

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    4. It’s a hot – or not – uni

    Again, certain universities will attract lots of applicants, particularly the well-established, traditional institutions such as the University of Manchester, Leeds, Nottingham and so on. This might not necessarily be an accurate reflection of the reputation of the particular course you’re applying to, though.


    What it means to you…

    High percentage of applicants receiving course offers?

    If you have the right predicted grades, the odds of you receiving an offer are good, if the conditions are similar to last year. But this figure doesn't necessarily guarantee you an offer.

    The figures could be explained another way - it might be a new course with few applicants (and therefore a high offers rate), for instance. Do a bit of extra research to uncover anything else that may be going on – call the university department and take a closer look through the course content.

    Low percentage of applicants receiving offers?

    If a you’re applying to a highly competitive course where only a small proportion of the overall number of applicants go on to receive offers, you may need to do more than simply have good predicted grades to mark yourself out a focused and sharp personal statement, or a shining pre-entry test or interview.

    Make sure you have a plan B (and a plan C) in place with lower entry requirements, just in case. There’s less chance there will be flexibility if you don’t quite make the grades. Look at the alternatives – joint honours or combined courses can be less competitive and offer a more mixed curriculum. If you don’t get on to the course you want, you can always apply the following year or find an alternative by going through clearing.

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