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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 someone who has been granted humanitarian protection*
  • you are irreconcilably estranged** from your parents or guardians
  • you are a young carer**

* We receive this information from UCAS when you apply to Bath, so there is nothing more for you to do.

** Not all information you may have disclosed to UCAS is directly accessible to us and therefore regardless of you ticking the relevant box on your UCAS application we would like to know if you are an estranged student or young adult carer. If you identify as being in either of these groups, please send an email to with a short paragraph to give us an overview of your circumstances.

Our Student Success Team can offer support to care leavers, estranged students, refugee, asylum seeker or humanitarian protection, and young carers. Please click on the above links to find information about the support we can offer at Bath.

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.

Guaranteed Offers for Care Leavers

For 2023 entry, the University has pledged to make guaranteed offers to Care Leavers who meet our criteria and terms and conditions. Please visit our Care Leavers webpage for details.

Contextual alternative offer

Contextual offers can help to promote fairness by taking into consideration the significant barriers that some students face on their journey to study at university.
If you are an A level or Cambridge Pre U student and meet our criteria based on contextual data, you may qualify for a reduced alternative offer. If you receive an offer, you will receive both the standard offer and a contextual alternative offer dependent upon you completing and passing Access to Bath. Access to Bath is an online programme to help students from under-represented groups’ transition into higher education.
The contextual alternative offer will be a one-grade drop in the standard A level offer for the course. You must still meet the grade requirements in any essential subjects as part of a contextual offer. You may also be eligible to receive our alternative offer if you are studying a combination of 2 A levels or Pre-U subjects plus BTEC study, such as a BTEC Extended Certificate.

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 Experience webpages and E-mentoring

If you are a care leaver, young carer or from a forced migration background we have some newly created Student Experience webpages which have been created by our students to share with you their lived experiences, journeys, and resources they’ve found helpful. The pages also include the option to access E-Mentoring through online direct messaging with a current Bath undergraduate with lived experience. Please click on the links below to access the page:

Student Experience webpages for care leavers

Student Experience webpages for students from forced migration backgrounds

Student Experience webpages for young carers

Widening Participation and Outreach

The university offer a range of activities, events, and programmes for students from under-represented groups. Please click here for further information about the support we can offer.

Student profile

Watch Sam's video about his experiences


If you have any questions, please contact us.