Today, UCAS publishes its 2016 data for individual universities. These make up the final part of the UCAS End of Cycle data on admissions to full-time undergraduate higher education in the UK in 2016.
Posted Wed 25 January 2017 - 15:40

UCAS publishes 2016 data for individual universities

Today, UCAS publishes its 2016 data for individual universities. These make up the final part of the UCAS End of Cycle data on admissions to full-time undergraduate higher education in the UK in 2016.  As well as numbers on recruitment by age, country and subject, this release includes an update of the detailed statistics on offer rates and entry rates for sex, area background and ethnic group that were first published in June 2016.

These statistics show what proportion of 18 year old UK applications are offered a place at a particular university, split by the sex, ethnic group and area background of applicants, across the 2011 to 2016 cycles.

This offer rate is presented alongside the average offer rate for other applicants with the same predicted grades, applying for the same courses, at the same university. This allows the two factors most strongly associated with the likelihood of receiving an offer, namely predicted grades held and the competitiveness of the course applied to, to be taken into account. This puts the often large differences in raw offer rates in context and indicates that applicants of all backgrounds typically receive offers at a rate that closely matches the average for applicants to similar courses holding similar predicted grades.

The statistics also report on how likely young people from different UK population groups are to enter individual universities. These entry rates are especially important for understanding representation in higher education for different ethnic groups where the population sizes range widely.

Individual university statistics show a wide range in these relative entry rates. Although men, people living in neighbourhoods with low HE entry rates, and the White ethnic group are the most under-represented in higher education as a whole, this is not the case at every institution. The subjects offered and the demographics of the local population can be important factors in the pattern of entry rates for an individual university. For instance, relatively few young people in the Black ethnic group live in the South West compared to London.

UCAS Chief Executive, Mary Curnock Cook said, “Universities understand the importance of regularly reviewing their admissions practice to ensure it is fair for all applicants. These equality reports provide a valuable dataset and national comparators to help them investigate any unexplained differences, as well as demonstrating publicly that young people can apply knowing that their application will be assessed fairly and on its merits.”

The updated statistics on sex, area background and ethnic group, published in the data and analysis section of, on 26 January include:

  • Reports for 133 larger universities detailing applicants, acceptances and offer rates by applicants’ sex, ethnic group, and background (POLAR3, and SIMD quintile for providers in Scotland).
  • A guide to using the ‘sex, area background and ethnic group’ reports.
  • Look up tables to check whether the difference in offer-rate and average offer rate (a key measure) is large enough to be confident that it is not statistical ‘noise.’
  • Aggregated reports for countries and different university types for comparison purposes
  • An online interactive tool for easy exploration of the data.


In Scotland, there is a substantial section of provision that is not included in UCAS' figures. This is mostly full-time higher education provided in further education colleges, which represents around one third of young, full-time undergraduate study in Scotland, and this proportion varies by geography and background within Scotland. Accordingly, the statistics on UCAS acceptances resources reflect only that majority of full-time undergraduate study that uses UCAS.

In 2015, around 120 courses at providers in Scotland that were previously part of the UCAS Teacher Training scheme, moved into the UCAS Undergraduate scheme. The numbers for providers in Scotland in 2015 and later recorded through the UCAS Undergraduate scheme will include those which were previously part of UCAS Teacher Training – estimated to be around 2,000 acceptances per year, mostly aged 21 or over. The aggregated output for Scotland is to provide a comparison for the statistics for Scottish universities and the increase in students it shows in 2015 as a result of this switch of provision between schemes should not be interpreted as additional students. 

The background of applicants across the UK is measured using the POLAR3 classification. This places small areas into five groups by their overall young entry rate. Across the UK, around a fifth of young people live in each group. In Scotland, young entry rates are relatively high, meaning there is a lower share of young people living in POLAR Quintile 1 (least advantaged) areas. The entry rates cover all UK 18 year olds and use the UK population figures, so if the population local to a university has fewer young people than average in a particular group this will tend to make the entry rate lower.

For applicants from Scotland applying to universities in Scotland, an alternative small area measure, the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD), is also used. This classification is constructed to have roughly 20 per cent of the young Scottish population in each quintile, and so represents a more evenly split measure of background for Scotland.

Notes to Editors:

The statistics published today update UCAS’ established programme of detailed reporting on entry and offer rates by sex, area background and ethnic group. It is the second release of its kind: the first was published in June 2016.

These data cover 133 higher education providers – the larger providers where there are sufficient numbers to ensure the statistics are reliable and useful.

The data on average offer rates control for the summary strength of predicted grades and the type of course applied to – for example it is much less likely that a student with lower grades applying to a competitive course will get an offer.

The average offer rates do not allow for other factors that might affect offer rates, such as subjects that an applicant offers and their relevance to the course applied to, or the exact profile of the predicted grades. Other factors such as the personal statement, teacher references, work experience or portfolios may also be relevant to offer making and are not accounted for. UCAS’ previous analysis (UCAS End of Cycle report 2015) has shown than predicted grades and course applied to are the two factors most strongly associated with receiving an offer.

The data are designed to show trends and provide data for universities and those interested in equality in higher education. They are not designed as information and guidance for prospective students and are unsuitable for this purpose as the offer rate an applicant can expect will depend on the grades they have and the particular course they apply to.

About UCAS 

UCAS, the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service, is a charity and the UK’s shared admissions service for higher education. We manage applications from around 700,000 applicants each year for full-time undergraduate courses at around 380 universities and colleges across the UK.

UCAS publishes millions of data points on throughout the year that can be freely used to investigate many topics in admissions for higher education.

For more information please contact or call the External Relations team on 01242 545469.


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