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Medical School Acceptance Rates (UK Admission Statistics)

Medical School Acceptance Rates (UK Admission Statistics)

Updated on: December 3, 2023
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Written By Dr Ollie

Every article is fact-checked by a medical professional. However, inaccuracies may still persist.

If you’re in the process of applying to medicine, you’ll almost certainly have heard about the notoriously low acceptance rates for medical schools.

But what percentage of applicants actually get into medical school in the UK every year?

Medical school acceptance rates in the UK generally sit at about 30%. The exact figure varies from year to year, as the number of applicants and spaces available fluctuates, but as a rule of thumb, approximately 1 in 3 medicine applicants will be successful.

I was lucky enough to get into medical school on my first attempt- but many of my friends weren’t so fortunate.

In this article, I’m going to explore some of the statistics behind medicine admissions in the UK, looking at just how likely it is you’ll get an offer if you’re applying this year.

What Percentage Of Applicants Get Into Medical School?

It’s well known that medicine is one of the hardest subjects to get an offer for at university.

Aside from the gruelling application process itself, with entrance exams, work experience requirements and interviews, it’s one of the most competitive courses to study in the UK.

To quantify just what sort of numbers you’re up against, I’ve compiled some statistics from recent admissions cycles into the table below:

YearNumber of ApplicantsPlaces AvailablePercentage Successful
202229,7107,50025%
202128,6909,50033%
202023,7207,50032%
201922,4306,50029%
201820,7306,00029%

As you can see, the percentage of successful applicants each year generally hovers at about 30%.

2022 was the lowest figure in the recent past, with only 1 in 4 candidates ultimately getting into medical school, but this was a bit of an anomaly.

The data used for ‘number of applicants’ came from UCAS itself, so is spot on, but the data for ‘places available’ is a bit more of an estimate.

Every year, medical schools have target intakes, which is where these figures come from, but the exact number of students who begin studying in September doesn’t always precisely hit the target.

This means that although the percentage of successful applicants I’ve listed above for each year will be a very good estimate, it’s not the precise value.

Acceptance Rates By Medical School

After looking at the bigger picture, it can also be helpful to consider individual medical schools’ acceptance rates.

This can potentially help you steer clear of horrendously over-competitive medical schools and hone in on the hidden gems.

It is however important to note that a medical school’s acceptance rate by no means tells the whole story of admission.

Medical SchoolNumber of ApplicantsNumber of OffersAcceptance Rate
Aberdeen17691749.8%
Anglia Ruskin118534829.4%
Aston106626324.7%
Barts174883447.7%
Birmingham282792332.6%
Brighton & Sussex153337524.5%
Bristol294565022.1%
Buckingham500 (estimate)unknownunknown
Cambridge181730616.8%
Cardiff31202849.1%
Dundee148635423.8%
UEA115546039.8%
Edge Hillunknownunknownunknown
Edinburgh216346921.7%
Exeter210559028.0%
Glasgow193256929.5%
Hull York135053039.3%
Imperial336573321.8%
Keele182541222.6%
Kent & Medwayunknownunknownunknown
King’s College288173925.7%
Lancaster98628629.0%
Leeds248639415.8%
Leicester206582840.1%
Liverpool2788104637.5%
Manchester246997939.7%
Newcastle194867934.9%
Nottingham168654732.4%
Oxford17661709.6%
Plymouth123844736.1%
Queen’s Belfast101943542.7%
Sheffield172677044.6%
Southampton149150233.7%
St Andrews65228844.2%
St George’s135835326.0%
UCL306470923.1%
Central Lancashire163431219.1%
Sunderland70915521.9%

It’s important to note that this data only pertains to each medical school’s undergraduate medicine course- as opposed to any graduate entry programs.

The data itself came from a range of sources- medical schools’ websites, Freedom of Information requests and UCAS-published statistics to name a few.

I always tried to use the most recent data I could find but I did occasionally struggle to find the necessary information. Therefore, the table does contain data from a few different years of admissions.

This means not every percentage figure is directly comparable, but it should still give you an idea of the trends between medical schools- as these tend to stay pretty consistent.

Why Acceptance Rates Aren’t The Whole Story

Although acceptance rates can be useful to build up a picture of a medical school and their selection process, they aren’t by any measure the full story.

Acceptance rates are directly impacted by how many applicants a medical school has- whether that be highly competitive candidates or tonnes of completely unqualified students trying their luck.

A student in the process of applying to medical school

How clear and restrictive a medical school makes their entry requirements will change how many people actually bother to apply- which will alter the percentage of applicants they accept even if the standard to get in hasn’t changed.

I’d suggest you could use acceptance rates to help guide a decision when trying to distinguish between two otherwise equal medical schools you want to apply to, but I definitely wouldn’t use it as a sole ranking factor for choosing where to apply.

How Medical School Acceptance Rates Are Changing

In 2021, during the COVID pandemic, the government lifted the normal cap on medical school places.

This allowed a record 9,500 spots at medical school to become available compared to the normal 7,500.

However, from 2022 onwards, this cap was reintroduced, effectively once again throttling medical admissions.

This removal and then reintroduction of capped medical student numbers is what caused the sudden increase in the percentage of successful applicants in 2021, followed by the lowest figure to date in 2022.

Going forward, there is mounting pressure on the government to further increase this cap.

With the NHS desperately short of doctors, it does seem slightly illogical to so severely limit the number of students entering the pipeline at the beginning- when we’re so lacking in the end product.

However, even as over time these restrictions are eased, it seems likely that applicant numbers will continue to grow and grow as they have done in recent years.

This may very well see the number of places for medicine drastically increasing over the next 5 years, but the actual acceptance rates remaining pretty much static.

Admission Statistics FAQs

Which medical school has the highest acceptance rate?

The medical school with the highest acceptance rate is Queen Mary University of London (Barts). Barts Medical School often accepts almost half of the students that apply, with over 70% of interviewed candidates regularly being given offers.

Which medical school has the lowest acceptance rate?

The medical school with the lowest acceptance rate is Cardiff Medical School. The University of Cardiff frequently accepts fewer than 10% of applicants to its medicine course. This very low acceptance rate is primarily driven by the large number of candidates who apply every year.

Final Thoughts

If you are planning on applying to medicine this year and are somewhat put off by the acceptance figures discussed above, I can’t blame you.

Medicine is extremely difficult to get into and has only gotten worse in recent years.

However, despite the low acceptance rates, if becoming a doctor is your ultimate aim, and you’re willing to work until you get there, I’ve got no doubts that you’ll eventually secure an offer for medical school.

About the author
After studying medicine at the University of Leicester, Dr Ollie now works as a junior doctor in London. His interests include medical education and expedition medicine, as well as having a strong belief in the importance of widening access to medicine.