In 2020, The Guardian reported that the proportion of students getting awarded First-Class degrees had increased by an astonishing 90% over the past 8 years. While for us students this may sound like hopeful news, this rise is so exponential that the OfS (Office For Students) deem it as a ‘significant and pressing issue’, that ‘threatened to erode public confidence’. But, we’ll put politics to the side for a moment and opt for some good old fashioned Uni rivalry. Stand your chances of hitting the highest marks? Here are some of the unis giving out the most firsts revealed for you to see how generous your uni is and whether the odds really are, ever in your favour.

5. University of Manchester

Not just great for a night out! As of May 2021, Manchester have awarded 36% of their students a First, placing them in fifth place of institutions who award the highest grades. They also were awarded 50th place in the Times’ World University rankings for 2022, beating their rivals the University of Leeds by quite a way.

4. University of Oxford

Officially the best University in the world and clearly not just for their rich history and beautiful campus! Oxford Uni reportedly awarded 37.2% of their students a First in 2021. Considering the infamous work load at Oxbridge, this seems pretty justified…

3. Durham University

It seems Durham University can actually beat Oxford and Cambridge in one league table! The uni place at number 3 on our list of unis that give out the most Firsts, with 37.5% of their students achieving the highest grade.

2. UCL

UCL are the runners up as one of the universities dishing out the most Firsts, with a whopping 40.3%. Considering that 29 UCL alumni have been awarded Nobel Prizes for their work, this stat seems pretty legit.

5. Imperial College London

Imperial College London, Uni's giving out the most firsts

Imperial College London have bagged the top spot for the uni whose students achieve the highest grades over all, with 46.4% (nearly half!) of their students getting a coveted First. Imperial boasts one of the most diverse student populations in the UK, hailing from 125 countries worldwide. With the odds of getting a First at Imperial being so high, it seems that the journey oversees to attend would definitely be worthwhile!

So, why is this inflation in firsts being awarded not necessarily a good thing? A rise this large indicates that there’s something fishier going on than meets the eye. Universities UK have made it clear that grades should be ‘meaningful…to improve transparency, fairness and reliability in the way they award degrees’.  We’d all love to know the chances are high of getting that grade we all wished for. But, it’s also fair to say that these should be earned- honesty is always the best policy!

If this has got you feeling driven, competitive (or desperate) – here’s our tips on how to get a first.

Last Updated on March 16, 2024