Loughborough University takes the lead as being the most popular first choice university for freshers in 2016

The university has also recently been recognised as being one of most outstanding global universities for sport science in a Japanese report

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The Independent Online

With the Ucas deadline for most further education applications just two weeks away, students may be looking for some inspiration as to which university to head to in 2016.

When it comes to thinking of the most popular university choices for freshers, prestigious institutions like Oxford, Cambridge, and St Andrew’s generally spring to mind. However, according to data compiled by one course comparison site, none of these universities looks set to be as much of an in-demand choice as thought. 

In fact, it’s Loughborough University in Leicestershire that has taken the lead for being the most popular first and firm choice for new university students in 2016, according to WhatUni.com.

Over 8,000 students submitted their Ucas choices through Whatuni.com’s online ‘Final 5’ tool where prospective undergrads were requred to list, in order of preference, the top five institutions they would be sending an application to. 

With the East Midlands university coming out on top, the rest of the top five first choice universities comprised of, in order: Leeds, Manchester, Nottinghmam, and Surrey.

The top ten first choice universities for 2016:

  1. Loughborough University 
  2. University of Leeds
  3. University of Manchester
  4. University of Nottingham
  5. University of Surrey
  6. King’s College London, University of London
  7. University of Edinburgh
  8. Cardiff University
  9. University of Birmingham
  10. University of Oxford

Along with its recent achievement which saw Loughborough receive the Whatuni Student Choice Awards (WUSCAs) University of the Year accolade in April - up from third place on last year - the institution's director of marketing and advancement, Emma Leech, described 2015 as being “a brilliant year.”

She said: “The Loughborough community is amazing. The energy and commitment of our staff and students - together with our unique partnership with the students’ union - is at the heart of everything we do and we are absolutely delighted to rank so highly in the ‘Final 5’.”

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Loughborough was also recently ranked as one of the outstanding global universities for sport science in a report published by the University of Tsukuba in Japan.

CEO of the Hotcourses Group - which owns Whatuni.com - Simin Emmett acknowledged how there has been a change within the higher education sector and said the informations drawn from the Final 5 tool is “key information” that will help universities with their recruitment and forecasting. He added: “But, more than that, it’s a tool that - combined with our course search and timeline - can help students stay on top of an otherwise complicated process.”

According to Ucas, a record total of 532,300 people entered UK higher education in 2015, an increase of 3.1 per cent - or 16,100 - on last year, making this the highest number recorded.

Applications for the majority of courses should arrive at Ucas by 18:00 on 15 January, though applicants are being reminded to check their course details for the correct deadline. Ucas has also said the reference must be completed before submission.