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Understanding contextual admissions for undergraduate applicants

Find out about our dedicated Admissions Progression Team and how 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.

Why we use contextual data

We know that the context in which you are studying can have an impact on the grades you achieve and on the availability of other experiences, like extra-curricular activities or work experience. We also want to make sure there are more opportunities for students from backgrounds which are under-represented in university life.

To make sure that we take these things into account when we make admissions decisions, we look at a range of contextual data alongside the information provided on your UCAS application. This helps to give us a better indication of your potential to excel on your chosen degree and helps to make sure that all applicants have fair opportunities throughout 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. Your application will be flagged as a widening participation priority if:

  • your home address is in the bottom two fifths of areas ranked by the proportion of young people progressing to Higher Education (POLAR 4, quintiles 1 or 2)
  • your home address is in the bottom two fifths of areas when ranked by general disadvantage (Index of Multiple Deprivation, quintiles 1 or 2)
  • your home address is in the middle fifth of areas when ranked by both the proportion of young people progressing to Higher Education (POLAR 4, quintile 3) and general disadvantage (Index of Multiple Deprivation, quintile 3)
  • you are a care leaver
  • you are a refugee, asylum seeker or have been granted humanitarian protection

In addition, we may also consider if any schools or colleges you have attended fall below the relevant national average at both GCSE and A level (or equivalent) standard, or if you have declared a disability.

Find out more about the contextual data we use including POLAR and IMD.

How your UCAS application will be considered

Your application will first be considered against our selection criteria, using aspects such as your GCSEs, the subjects you are studying, your personal statement and predicted grades. If your application is strong enough you will receive an offer on that basis, regardless of your circumstances.

Otherwise, if you are flagged as a widening participation priority, we have a dedicated Admissions Progression Team who aim to make sure that we carefully consider information about your background and circumstances before deciding whether or not we can make you an offer. They will make sure we consider each aspect of your UCAS form carefully in context. This approach is different than many other universities and makes our contextual admissions process as thorough and as tailored to you as possible: we focus on your individual potential.

This process doesn’t stop if you receive an offer: if you choose Bath as one of your final choices but miss your offer, our Admissions Progression Team will assess your application thoroughly again and strongly prioritise you for a place at Bath.

Why we don’t make contextual offers

You may have read that some universities make ‘contextual offers’ that ask for slightly lower grades based on your background.

At Bath, we don’t make contextual offers. We want to make sure that everyone who is qualified for an offer has the same aspirations to achieve the grades for their degree. 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 everyone to achieve their best.

We have found that showing individual flexibility from our Admissions Progression Team allows you a more equal opportunity of an offer and a place at Bath if you are flagged as a widening participation priority. Even though our offers are always at the same level, our Team will make sure that you are strongly prioritised for a place if you miss your offer.

How we consider mitigating circumstances

We understand that difficult circumstances outside your control, such as illness or bereavement, may have a negative impact on your studies and grades. These would be described as ‘mitigating circumstances’.

Separate to our contextual admissions process, our Admissions Progression Team also consider 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 return a copy of our form.


We want to support you if you become a student at Bath. If you are a Home UK student, then your contextual data will be considered alongside any household income data we receive from your UK student loans provider. You may be eligible for one of our bursaries or scholarships.

Also, remember to look out for our travel bursary if you are travelling to an interview or applicant visit day.

Student profile

Watch Sam's video about his experiences


If you have any questions, please contact us.