Contextual admissions

We know that the context in which you're studying can have an impact on the grades you achieve and on your opportunity to take up extra-curricular activities or work experience.

Contextual admissions means that we can take these things into account which helps us to ensure everyone has a fair chance at getting into The University of Manchester.

What is contextual admissions?

Contextual admissions means that we consider your UCAS application in context. The data we consider is automatically provided on your UCAS form. Specifically, we look at whether any of the following apply:

  • you live in an area of disadvantage or with low progression into higher education (UK students under the age of 21);
  • the school or college where you took/are taking your GCSEs/A-level equivalent has performed below the national average over multiple years (UK students under the age of 21);
  • you have been looked after in care for more than three months.

From the 2022 cycle, students with refugee status will also be eligible for contextual admissions.

If you meet any of the above you could be eligible for contextual admissions. This means you could receive further consideration from admissions teams, for example:

Personal statement

When reading your personal statement, we will take into consideration that you may not have had the same access to extracurricular activities or work experience.

Interview

If you're invited to an interview, we'll take into account that you may have had fewer opportunities to prepare.

Aspirational offer

For certain courses, if your predicted grades are below our minimum entry criteria we may still make you an offer because we know predictions are often not a true reflection of your potential. For example, if the entry requirements for your chosen course are ABB and your predicted grades are BBB you may be made an offer of ABB.

Contextual offer

If you meet the criteria and your predicted grades are within two grades of our minimum entry criteria you may be made a reduced offer.

  • This is usually one grade lower than the standard entry requirements.
  • The qualifications and subjects you're applying with would still need to meet our published entry requirements. For example, if a course requires Chemistry and Maths you must be taking both of these subjects. Some courses may also require specific grades in specific subjects.
  • Contextual offers are only made for courses where the standard entry requirements are ABB or higher.
  • You would still need to successfully complete any additional selection requirements such as an interview or aptitude test (eg UCAT for Medicine/Dentistry).

From the 2022 cycle, refugees and students who have been looked after in care for more than three months may be eligible for a two grade reduction.

Results and clearing

If you’ve received an offer but don’t meet the conditions, admissions tutors may look closely at flagged applicants and consider these again at the point of confirmation. Flagged applicants may also be highlighted as potential students for whom internal clearing opportunities could be suitable.

The details of our standard and contextual offer entry requirements are available on each of our course profiles.

Applicants need to meet our specific contextual data criteria and would not receive a contextual offer due to mitigating circumstances or as a result of a disability or medical condition. However, support is available for individuals in these circumstances and we have further information about how to apply and our Disability Advisory and Support Service.

Check your eligibility

Use our eligibility tools to see if you would receive further consideration or a contextual offer. Each tool is specific for a particular cycle because the data we use changes from year to year.

How do I apply?

You don't have to apply for contextual admissions, we get all the information we need directly from your UCAS form when you apply to study at Manchester.

If you've spent time in care, remember to indicate this when asked on your UCAS form. This will help us identify all the support you might be eligible for, including contextual offers. 

Combination with access schemes

We run a number of access schemes to support students in developing the skills they need for university study. Upon completion, some of these schemes, such as Pathways to Law and Pre-University Social Science courses, may offer you a one grade reduction to the course standard entry requirements. This can often be combined with a contextual offer, resulting in a further reduction. For more information on access schemes, please visit the Access Manchester website.

If you're identified as eligible for contextual admissions and make Manchester your firm choice you may also be invited to complete the Manchester Distance Access Scheme

Why do you use contextual admissions?

We recognise that not everyone has had access to equal standard of education and that social or socio-economic factors can cause a serious disruption to studies. Contextual admissions enables us to consider your achievements in the context of your background in order to level the playing field and ensure we are being as fair as possible.