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Use of contextual data

If you are a UK applicant under the age of 21, we may use contextual data alongside your undergraduate application in order to build up a full and rounded view of your achievement and potential.

What constitutes contextual data

Contextual data is simply additional information considered by our admissions decision-makers alongside your UCAS form. We do not make decisions on the basis of this information alone, and you must meet our standard academic criteria to be considered for entry.

We use four pieces of contextual information, where available. They are drawn from your UCAS application form and used alongside publicly available datasets to provide the following information:

  1. The postcode that you have provided as your home address, using the HEFCE POLAR3 Low Participation Neighbourhood (LPN) data and ACORN information (a system that assigns specific geo-demographic profiles to individual UK postcodes).*
  2. Whether you have been looked after or in care for more than three months.
  3. The performance of the school or college where you took your GCSEs or equivalent qualifications.**
  4. The performance of the school or college where you took your A-levels or equivalent qualifications.**

* You meet the Geo-demographic indicator if your postcode falls into ACORN categories 4 or 5, or POLAR3 LPN category 1.

** You meet an Education indicator if your school or college has performed below the national average across multiple years.

Explaining contextual flags

If you meet the Geo-demographic indicator, or if you have been in care for more than three months, your application will receive a WP Flag, or Widening Participation Flag.

An additional flag is produced if you also meet at least one of the Education indicators. This is known as the WP Plus Flag.

If you receive a flag and meet our standard academic entry criteria, we recommend your application for further consideration by admissions tutors. This further consideration will not result in either an automatic offer or a lower offer, but can include, among other things:

  • additional examination of your personal statement;
  • making interviewers aware of your background;
  • further consideration of your application after the confirmation of exam results.

You can check whether your application will receive a WP Flag based on your home postcode, and whether it will also receive a WP Plus Flag based on the schools you attended, here:

Please note that these outcomes are only applicable for 2018 entry. This is because the classification of your postcode and the performance of the schools you have attended may change from year to year.

More about how we use contextual data

For detailed information about the use of contextual data at Manchester, download the following documents:

More information for applicants to our Manchester Medical School is available in the guide How do we deal with your application?, which you can download from the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health website.

On the same website, you can also find more information about our Pharmacy with Foundation Year (five-year) course.

To ask further questions about how we use contextual data, please email

Care leavers

You can find further information for care leavers on our How to apply page.