Cambridge had the fewest applications of all Russell Group Universities last year

Cambridge students, we’re sorry if this hurts your feelings

Cambridge might be one of the best universities in the UK, but according to official data, it had the fewest number of applicants of all Russell Group universities this UCAS cycle.

New figures released in UCAS’ 2023 end-of-cycle data show Cambridge as the least applied to Russell Group university, with only 21,940 applicants.

Cambridge was closely followed by its rival, Oxford, which had 24,230 applicants. This is not surprising, considering both these top institutions require applicants to undertake entrance exams and interviews, putting many people off applying.


The most popular Russell Group university is Manchester, with a tremendous 93,450 applicants. It was closely followed by UCL which had 77,615.

But popularity is not directly proportional to oversubscription. Just above Cambridge and Oxford is LSE, which, despite having only 26,240 applicants, is the most oversubscribed Russell Group with an acceptance rate of only 6.92 per cent.

Cambridge, on the other hand, ranked 18th out of 24 Russell Group universities in terms of oversubscription. With an acceptance rate of 16.25 per cent, 21,940 people applied for 3,565 places.

You can view the full league table of Russell Group popularity here.

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