(Original post by Phil1541)
You've got the Bristol thing horrifically wrong...
Bristol would love to give offers to every perfect student they come across, (infact I'm pretty sure they used) however they have to deal with the goverment/newspapers constantly criticising their private/state school ratio.
Bristol has one of the highest private to state ratio's only really beaten by Durham and Oxbridge, the Guardian especially hits on Bristol a lot for this so the university is desperately trying to remove is private school bias image.
Bristol's economics department is a strong yet relatively small department, due to external pressures Bristol cannot give every perfect private schooled student an offer as there are many state school applicants while not perfect on paper would also succeed just as well at the course.
You need to remember A level results generally are a crap at distinguishing students at the top level. AAAAA is not much better than AAAA or AAA and even with the A* I've still noticed this to be true while studying at university.
In my first year exams I've seen students who got AAB at A level (for Physics) do just as well as students who got A*A*A* (in fact one A*A*A* student I know failed first year due to him thinking the exams would be of a similar style to A level)
You seem to think A level grades are a perfect indicator of whether the student is fit to study at the university or not... that could not be further from the truth...
EC's also play very little role, it's all about communicating enthusiasm and general drive to study the subject, plus a little bit of luck that you don't come off as a pretentious prick in your personal statement. (remember admissions tutors are human to)
Bristol had a record 38-1 applicant to place ratio for economics and something similar to law in previous years... the reason for your friends rejection is probably down to there personal statement or Bristol just literally not having enough space. (Bristol was also previously fined for taking too many students so they've become really strict on who they give offers to in previous years).
(I can source data for the applicant to place ratio if needed, as you can see the ratio is rather stupid and leaves little choice for admissions tutors if they have to fill the government quota for state school intake)
Bristol is constantly under pressure from within the university and externally to increase there state school intake, the reason for your friends rejection is most likely down to Bristol having made too many offers already and not having enough space.
Bristol are expanding there humanities and social science departments to try and reduce the number of applicants per place, so they don't have to keep rejecting suitable students.
However this works both ways as the ASS library is already too small for the current student population so hopefully the university has plans to sort that out.
I can pretty much 100% guarantee you that your friend was not rejected because they were too good... I've met students with better grades and EC's than your friend at Bristol so he definitely wasn't the best applicant. (scary A*A*A*A*A* physics and philosophers who make my AAAB look rather mediocre).
If you friend was from a state school then fair enough he got unlucky, but your anecdotal case definitely doesn't hold.
Also people don't automatically choose the top London universities over Bristol due to perceived greater prestige, I'm unsure about law and economics but I know at least 3 Physicists and a Chemist who all rejected Imperial.
The student life style and city/campus plays a far greater role than the increase in prestige from studying at Imperial/UCL/LSE to studying at Bristol, many people don't like the idea of living in London (hate the corporate environment of LSE and dislike the gender ratio of Imperial).
Sorry for the huge post but I felt I had to clear this up for future applicants to Bristol, as proposing that Bristol rejects students just because there over qualified is ludicrous.