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Discrepancy in LSE Admission Statistics

deneuralyzerdeneuralyzer 103 replies15 threads Junior Member
So I came across an FoI request made to LSE this year. The request asked for offer rates for American applicants by course, and LSE responded with a data table. Here's the link:

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/648569/response/1553421/attach/html/2/FOI 3340.xlsx.html


This list is from the 2019 admissions cycle, and it shows 56 out of 681 American applicants getting an offer -- in other words, an offer rate just over 8% -- less than Oxbridge's offer rate for Americans! Although this number is low, I'd have accepted it if not for the fact that LSE's website states that in 2018, LSE "welcomed" 264 undergraduates from the US (http://www.lse.ac.uk/study-at-lse/international-students/country-pages/united-states-of-america). Admittedly, it's possible that this means there were 264 American undergraduates in total, across all 3 years (which would roughly corroborate the FoI data), but the phrasing makes me doubt it. 264 new undergrads, assuming the 681-applicant figure given in the FoI data, gives us an absolute minimum offer rate of 42% -- far from the 8% shown by the data. How does an offer rate drop 34% in one year? Does anyone know if the "264" figure refers to first-year undergrads or total undergrads?


There are also several irregularities in the FoI dataset. Overall, LSE is known to have around a 15% offer rate for Finance. However, the dataset shows 6 out of 18 American applicants getting offers. Conversely, around half of all applicants typically get offers for the BA in Social Anthropology, but the FoI dataset shows only 1 out of 9 US applicants getting offers. For the BSc in Soc. Anth, it shows 2 out of 1 American applicants getting offers -- what?!

I'd really appreciate if someone could help me out with this.
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Replies to: Discrepancy in LSE Admission Statistics

  • collegemom3717collegemom3717 7740 replies82 threads Senior Member
    All of those things fit w/ what I have seen and/or the UK system.

    The students whose offers from both Oxford & LSE I have seen (including one of my collegekids) have been harder from LSE than Oxford. Admittedly, that is a small sample size- I only know a few students who have applied to & gotten offers from both places!- but it has been consistent.

    Second, remember that in the UK the decision to make an offer is made by the department, not by the university. The nature of the subject can also be relevant: Finance has more objective requirements than SocAnth, and students who are gunning for Finance at LSE often have the kind of clear ambition that you see in (say) Wharton applicants. The 2 accepted for the BSc v 1 applied most likely indicates that somebody who applied for the BA in SocAnth was offered a place in the BSc program. I don't know anything at all about SocAnth at LSE, but I do know of applicants being offered related programs to the one they applied to (for example, a student applying to History + Italian being offered straight History). The distinction between courses- and the spaces available in each- are typically much more specific in the UK than in the US.

    Third, you can only extrapolate so much from a single data set. You would need multiple years to know if the 1/3 acceptance rate for Finance is typical or an outlier (high or low), and you would need to see the stats/profiles of the successful applicants to know if you are likely to be equally successful.

    I'm guessing that your real issue is that you are trying to parse *your* odds, and the take-aways are that 1) there isn't a simple answer, 2) it's not easy and 3) your particular strengths as a candidate will matter more than last years results, which reflect a specific applicant pool.

    Does that help?
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  • deneuralyzerdeneuralyzer 103 replies15 threads Junior Member
    Thanks for your response @collegemom3717. So do you think the 264 American students were spread across all three years, or only first-year undergrads? If they are first-year undergrads, the minimum offer rate of around 42% is consistent with LSE's overall 37% offer rate. However, if they are spread across all four years, the offer rate is consistent with the FoI request's 8% offer rate. Also, 56 seems like an absurdly small number of applicants to give offers to, especially considering the lower yield rates created by LSE's overseas location.
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  • collegemom3717collegemom3717 7740 replies82 threads Senior Member
    You can be very sure the FOI info is accurate.

    I am bemused by (my interpretation of) your thinking on the # of offers: are you suggesting that they would/should want more American students?

    Are you a prospective applicant, and if so, for what subject?
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  • deneuralyzerdeneuralyzer 103 replies15 threads Junior Member
    Of course I’m a prospective applicant; isn’t that evident from my alarm at these statistics? 😆 I plan to apply for either LCS (language culture and society) or Soc Anth. If you know anything about applying to these courses or related ones, I’d really appreciate the info.

    I guess that at the basic level, yes, I was surprised that they would take so few Americans, especially considering the much higher overall offer rates.
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  • collegemom3717collegemom3717 7740 replies82 threads Senior Member
    A key difference between the UK and the US is that UK GCs have a lot more influence on who applies where. The GC not only write LoRs, but they give students their "predicted" scores, which are essential for getting offers,. Schools work really hard to predict accurately, b/c their reputation for accuracy affects how the predictions are seen by the unis. Many students are actively discouraged from applying to tippy-tops if their schools don't think they will succeed, to keep the schools acceptance % high. And of course, they are all limited to 5 courses total, so they choose very very carefully. Thus, what looks like a "high" offer rate really reflects a highly qualified, already vetted applicant base, and the 37% acceptance rate has to be viewed in that context.

    So, I went back & scanned your other threads, and realized that I have seen other posts of yours...

    ...and now you are applying for social anthropology or LCS- a big change! Nothing in any of your other posts indicate any interest- or background- in those areas. Being cynical my first guess was that you had looked up what courses have the highest acceptance rate- but these are *tiny* courses! they take 8 total students/year for LCS and 10 between the 2 SocAnth courses. That says 'true believers'- the kind of kid who was into anthropology at 10.

    Have you ever done any reading in the subject? LSE gives you a suggested "Preliminary Reading" list to get you started before you arrive: http://www.lse.ac.uk/study-at-lse/Undergraduate/Degree-programmes-2021/BSc-Social-Anthropology (scroll down the page).
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  • deneuralyzerdeneuralyzer 103 replies15 threads Junior Member
    Got me there. I can't shake the American mentality of applying to "easier" courses to get a better shot at the university itself. And yes, I know that mentality isn't applicable to the UK. But that's beside the point. All my posts are generally hypothetical, and this one was made only because I didn't believe the data.

    You're right about Soc Anth not being in my lane, but I do have a few ECs relating to LCS. I was aware that it's a small course, but it's the only LSE course remotely related to my interests, as I have done some ECs in computational linguistics and creative writing as well as mock trial. True; I'm probably not specialized enough for it.

    Either way, my initial question -- which dataset to trust? -- has been answered by you. Thanks for the help!
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  • PurpleTitanPurpleTitan 13430 replies31 threads Senior Member
    edited April 3
    Among the 264 American students LSE welcomed may have been a bunch of study-abroad students who took the General Course.
    edited April 3
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  • Twoin18Twoin18 2092 replies21 threads Senior Member
    You can be pretty certain that 264 is the total attending across all 3 (or in some cases 4) years combined. According to UK government statistics (https://www.ukcisa.org.uk/Research--Policy/Statistics/International-student-statistics-UK-higher-education) LSE has only about 2500 international undergrad students in total from all countries. The 264 likely also includes those on exchange programs (for example there is an exchange for 10 students a year with UC Berkeley) though maybe not summer programs.

    The real question is whether the 56 receiving an offer includes only those that accepted it (and attended), or included those that were made an offer but didn't go to LSE. Given that many American students turn down their offers of places in the UK, even at Oxbridge, it is possible that 56 students per year attend after going through the regular admission process, but it seems less likely that only 56 offers were made.
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  • PurpleTitanPurpleTitan 13430 replies31 threads Senior Member
    @Twoin18, well, on their website, LSE lists both "offers" (those offered admission) and "intake" (those who enrolled) as well as total applicants for each degree program. So it seems that "offers" is indeed those who were offered admission. LSE seems to take a rather dim view of the rigor of AP tests and US HS education, and without their own rigorous tests and in-person interviews that Oxbridge conduct to add more information about each candidate, it seems that they would rather be safe than sorry, having more faith in A-Levels and exams like that to tell them how prepared a candidate is for LSE. To be sure, A-Levels Maths and Further Maths covers far more than AP Calc and AP Stats. In general, I find US HS math education to be about a century behind the times.
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