POLAR

The participation of local areas (POLAR) classification groups areas across the UK based on the proportion of the young population that participate in higher education (HE). It looks at how likely young people are to participate in HE across the UK and shows how this varies by area.

POLAR classifies local areas into five quintiles based on the proportion of 18-year-olds who enter HE aged 18 or 19. Quintile 1 is the fifth of areas with the lowest proportion of progression to HE. We are using the latest version of this data, Polar 4, which we receive directly from UCAS.

You will be flagged as a widening participation priority if the home postcode listed on your UCAS application when you apply falls into quintile 1 or 2. If your postcode falls into quintile 3, you will only be flagged as a widening participation priority if your postcode also falls into IMD quintile 3 (see below).

Look up which POLAR 4 quintile your home postcode falls into

IMD

Index of multiple deprivation (IMD) is a measure of relative deprivation for small, fixed geographic areas of the UK. IMD classifies these areas into five quintiles based on relative disadvantage, with quintile 1 being the most deprived and quintile 5 being the least deprived.

IMD data is freely available from relevant government resources (aside from post-codes in Northern Ireland, for which data is unfortunately not freely available), and we are using IMD data from 2015. When we receive your UCAS application, the home postcode you provide will be paired with IMD data so that we can determine which quintile you fall into.

You will be flagged as a widening participation priority if the home postcode listed on your UCAS application when you apply falls into IMD quintile 1 or 2. If your postcode falls into quintile 3, you will only be flagged as a widening participation priority if your postcode also falls into Polar 4, quintile 3 (see above).

Look-up which IMD quintile your home postcode falls into (England only).

Time in care status

When you complete your UCAS application there is a section for you to declare if you have spent time in Local Authority care, either with foster carers or in a children’s home (or in Scotland under a home supervision order).

We would strongly recommend doing this if it applies to you, regardless of when or how long you were in care for. This means that you will receive relevant information about support from all the universities that you apply to.

You will be flagged as a widening participation priority if you declare something in this section of your UCAS application.

Refugee, Asylum Seeker, Humanitarian Protection status

When you complete your UCAS application there is a section for you to declare your fee status.

You will be flagged as a widening participation priority if you have declared on your UCAS form that you are a refugee, asylum seeker or someone who has been granted humanitarian protection. If this applies to you and you're successful in receiving an offer from us, you will receive a copy of our Fee Status Questionnaire so that we can formally assess and confirm your fee status.

School performance at Level 2

We look at data attached to the school that you have listed as attending when you sat your GCSEs (or equivalent qualifications) to see if it is below the national average. We look at the data for the latest year of examinations that is available, which is the 2018 examinations for the 2020 UCAS cycle.

If you have attended numerous schools, we will look at data for all those you may have attended up until taking your GCSE or equivalent qualifications. Some school performance data is provided by UCAS, but other data is collected directly from the relevant national government department.

The table summarises the measure we use to determine school performance for each nation, and what the national average is for the 2018 examinations. Our data is for state-funded schools only.

Nation Measure used National average for 2018 examinations
England Average attainment 8 score per pupil 46.5
Wales Average QCA points score for best 8 GCSEs 324.1
Scotland Percentage of learners achieving 5 or more qualifications at SCQF Level 5 or better 57.4%
Northern Ireland Percentage of learners achieving 5 A*-C graded GCSEs, including English/Welsh and Maths 71.8%

Your application will not be flagged using this data, however, it may help to further contextualise your academic performance and make sure we are showing your application sufficient flexibility.

School performance at Level 3

We look at data attached to the school or college that you have listed as attending when you sit your A levels (or equivalent qualifications) to see if it is below the national average. We look at the data for the latest year of examinations that is available, which is the 2018 examinations for the 2020 UCAS cycle.

If you have attended numerous schools/colleges, we will look at data for all those you may have attended while taking your A level or equivalent qualifications. Some school performance data is provided by UCAS, but other data is collected directly from the relevant national government department.

The table summarises the measure we use to determine school performance for each nation, and what the national average is for the 2018 examinations. Our data is for state-funded schools only.

Nation Measure used National average for 2018 examinations
England Average QCA points per A level entry or equivalent 32.35
Wales Average QCA points score for best 8 GCSEs 740.10
Scotland Percentage of learners achieving 5 or more qualifications at SCQF level 6 or better 30.40
Northern Ireland Percentage of learners achieving 3 or more A Levels at grades A*-C 70.20

Your application will not be flagged using this data, however, it may help to further contextualise your academic performance and make sure we are showing your application sufficient flexibility.

Disability status

When you complete your UCAS application there is a section for you to declare if you have a disability, additional learning need or long-term/mental health condition.

We would strongly recommend doing this if it applies to you, as it will make sure that you receive relevant information about support from the universities that you apply to.

Your application will not be flagged using this data, however, it may help to further contextualise your academic performance and make sure we are showing your application sufficient flexibility.

Young carers or estranged students

If you have caring responsibilities or are estranged from your family then we would encourage you to ask your academic referee to mention this in your reference.

Your application will not be flagged using this data, however, it may help to further contextualise your academic performance and make sure we are showing your application sufficient flexibility.