Applications per place is somewhat of a false indicator of how hard it is to get into a college. If everybody who applies to Durham, some without a chance of getting in, not knowing much about it puts down Castle or Hatfield, then it doesn't really matter how many applications per place there are. What would be a much more useful indicator, is how many *appropriate* applications per place there are. (I.e. if loads of people without a hope in hell of getting in (to durham or these particularly choosy colleges) apply to Castle, Hatfield and the other 'popular' colleges, then it makes it look a lot harder to get in than it actually would be for someone who was a suitable candidate. This is not to say that suitable candidates don't get turned away, but it may not be as hard to get in as it seems).