Contextual data

We aim to widen participation and fair access and welcome applications from students of all backgrounds.

We have implemented a contextual admissions model to better inform admissions tutors' understanding of applicants' social backgrounds, allowing admissions tutors to assess applicants' potential to succeed in the context of barriers they may have encountered. The model in operation involves the identification of individual applicants for 'additional consideration' based on reliable data and is informed by the findings of a pilot study that we undertook during the 2011/2012 academic session (2012 entry admissions cycle).

Our use of contextual data is guided by a number of core principles.

Contextual data will be applied to all UK domiciled home (by fee status) applicants for full-time undergraduate programmes, with the exception of the following categories of applicant:

EU-domiciled applicants

EU-domiciled applicants will be considered on an individual basis, as comparable geodemographic data are not readily available for EU-domiciled applicants. EU applicants and their referees are advised to highlight relevant socio-economic factors and individual adversity in their personal statements and references. Where such factors are reported and evidence supplied, these factors will be considered by the relevant Academic School(s) when making the selection decision.

Applicants who have already completed a first degree

Applicants who have already completed a first degree will be considered on an individual basis. We recognise that, whilst it is often assumed that applicants who have completed a first degree have overcome barriers to HE participation, graduate entry can be a legitimate widening participation route into highly selecting programmes, particularly those leading to accreditation with a professional body, where a disadvantaged applicant's prior attainment at GCSE or A level (or equivalent) precluded earlier application for these programmes. Graduate applicants and their referees are advised to highlight relevant school performance and socio-economic factors in their personal statements and references. Where such factors are reported and evidence supplied, these factors will be considered by the relevant Academic School(s) when making the selection decision.

We are seeking to mitigate socioeconomic disadvantage and adverse individual circumstance, including time spent in care. To identify those applicants who have experienced barriers to participation in higher education, our contextual admissions model uses three indicators to assess applicants' eligibility for additional consideration. However, all applicants will still be required to meet the standard academic and non-academic criteria for their chosen degree programme. None of the contextual data considered as part of this process is produced by us. It comes from independent sources, namely UCAS, the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), the Welsh Government and ACORN.

The three indicators are as follows:

Socio-economic disadvantage

Applicants resident in a 'Communities First' area (Welsh Government measure) or ACORN neighbourhood categorised as 'moderate means' or 'hard pressed' will receive a 'tick' against Indicator 1.

Low participation neighbourhood

Applicants resident in a UK neighbourhood identified as having a low higher education participation rate on the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) Participation of Local Areas (POLAR) database will receive a 'tick' against Indicator 2.

'In care'

Applicants who have spent time in care and indicated this on their UCAS form (using the specified question) will receive a 'tick' against Indicator 3.

An applicant who has a 'tick' against any one of these indicators will be eligible for additional consideration. 

Further information about the use and rationale of contextual data.

We do not use contextual information to make lower or differential offers to any particular group of applicants. If an application is identified as eligible for 'additional consideration', this may take one of a number of forms:

Guaranteed offer (without additional entry requirements)

Applicants with contextual indicators who have applied to a programme which does not have additional non-academic or professional entry requirements will be guaranteed a typical offer for the programme applied for.

Guaranteed offer (with additional entry requirements)

Applicants with contextual indicators who have applied to a programme with additional non-academic requirements (eg submission of a portfolio of work or written work) who have demonstrated suitable potential will be guaranteed a typical offer for the programme applied for. Any additional requirements are stipulated in each Academic School's admissions criteria.

Guaranteed interview (with profession-specific non-academic suitability requirements)

Applicants with contextual indicators who have applied to a programme with additional profession-specific non-academic suitability requirements who have demonstrated their suitability for the profession and whose predicted grades satisfy minimum academic thresholds, expressed as non-academic and academic application scores, will be guaranteed an interview. Minimum thresholds and requirements are articulated in the relevant School's admissions criteria.

Summer results period

Admissions tutors will give additional consideration to applicants with contextual indicators for remaining places following the publication of the summer examination results. Applicants with contextual indicators may also be considered for clearing vacancies on related programmes if there are no remaining vacancies on their preferred programmes of study.

In addition to these specific actions, schools will take the following factors into account for applicants with contextual indicators:

Non-academic achievements

It is recognised that applicants from disadvantaged backgrounds may have had fewer opportunities to undertake work experience or to participate in extra-curricular activities.

Interview

Applicants with contextual indicators are likely to have fewer opportunities to prepare for interview eg coaching in interview skills, practice interviews etc.

Further information

The following further information about the use of contextual data is available:

For further information and guidance:

Student enquiries