Understanding contextual admissions for undergraduate applicants
How we use contextual data as part of our undergraduate admissions process.
Why we use contextual data
Having a diverse student population is important to us and we aim to select students with the greatest potential to succeed in our degree courses, regardless of their background and circumstances.
We are aware that the context in which you are studying can have an impact on your ability to perform your best in exams and coursework or on the availability of educational experiences such as work experience.
To make sure that we take into account the context in which you have been studying when we are making admissions decisions, we look at a range of contextual data alongside the information provided in your UCAS application. This helps to give us a more accurate indication of your potential to perform well on your chosen degree course and helps to make sure that all applicants have an equal opportunity through our admissions process.
What contextual data we use
We look at a range of data that will be automatically linked to your application when you apply through UCAS. We look at whether:
- your home is in an area where fewer young people progress to Higher Education at a university or college
- your home address is considered to be in an area of higher socio-economic disadvantage according to ACORN data analysis
- your school performance is below the national average at GCSE standard (or equivalents such as Standard Grade)
- your school or college performance is below the national average at A level standard (or equivalents such as Level 3 BTEC)
- you have declared a disability on your UCAS application
- you are a care leaver
- you are a refugee, asylum seeker or have been granted humanitarian protection
Your application will be flagged as a ‘widening participation priority’ if you meet any two of the above, or if you are a care leaver, refugee, asylum seeker, or have been granted humanitarian protection.
How your UCAS application will be considered
Your application will first be considered on its academic merits against the admissions criteria for your chosen degree course. If your application is of a high enough standard then you will be successful in receiving an offer, regardless of whether your application is flagged as being a widening participation priority or not.
If, after an initial assessment is made, your application shows academic potential but is not of a standard that would typically allow us to make you an offer, we will check whether your application is flagged as a widening participation priority. If your application is flagged then you will be given additional consideration from our specialist Admissions Progression Team.
Our Admissions Progression Team are specially trained members of our admissions staff whose aim is to make sure that information about your background and circumstances are taken into careful consideration before a decision is made on your application. Your application will be given at least one review from this team, which will involve a more in-depth assessment of all aspects of your application and also the contextual data that we have received for you.
Our Admissions Progression Team will make sure that we show you as much flexibility as possible when:
- we are deciding whether or not we can make you an offer
- we are deciding whether or not we can confirm your place if your final grades are lower than the grades in your offer
The level of flexibility that our Admissions Progression Team is able to show depends on various factors, such as the course you have applied for and how competitive the course is in the year that you have applied. However, as a guide, we are generally able to show flexibility on aspects such as:
- overall GCSE profile (or equivalent qualifications)
- predicted grades
- subject combination for your A levels (or equivalent qualifications)
- the strength of your personal statement
Why we don’t make contextual offers
You may have read that some universities make ‘contextual offers’ that are one or two grades lower than the typical offer for a particular degree course, based on contextual data about an applicant’s background.
At Bath, we do not make contextual offers. We want to make sure that everyone who is academically qualified enough for an offer has the same aspirations to achieve the grades required for their chosen degree course. We would not make you an offer if we didn’t think you were capable of aiming for the grades needed and we want to encourage every applicant to achieve their best.
Based on our experience, we have found that showing flexibility as part of our admissions process from our Admissions Progression Team allows all applicants who are flagged as a widening participation priority a more equal opportunity of getting an offer and a place at Bath. As explained, we may be able to confirm your place at Bath, even if your final grades are lower than the grades in your offer, after appropriate consideration.
This approach is very detailed and personalised and makes sure that we are:
- showing your application as much flexibility as possible based on your individual circumstances
- making sure that we feel you are academically qualified to cope with and enjoy your chosen degree course
How we consider mitigating circumstances
We understand that difficult circumstances outside an applicant’s control, such as illness or bereavement, may have a significant and detrimental impact on their studies and exam performance. These would be described as ‘mitigating circumstances’.
As part of our contextual admissions process, our Admissions Progression Team also considers any mitigating circumstances that are declared to us.
If your studies (past or current) are affected, we would encourage you to read our guidance about mitigating circumstances and complete and return a copy of our mitigating circumstances form.
This form will be confidentially and thoroughly considered by our Admissions Progression Team who will make sure that your circumstances are appropriately factored into our academic assessment of your UCAS application.