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.

What is contextual admissions?

Contextual admissions means that we consider your UCAS application in context which helps us to ensure everyone has a fair chance at getting into The University of Manchester. 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;
  • you have refugee status.

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.


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

Take a look at our 'Support with travel costs to the University campus' section below as we can cover the cost of bus, train or coach travel to our interviews and visit days for certain applicants.

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.

  • Only applicable if you meet the criteria for a Widening Participation (WP) Plus or WP Plus PLUS flag. Find out more about contextual flags and check your eligibility.
    • If you meet our postcode and school performance criteria the contextual offer is usually one grade lower than the standard entry requirements (WP Plus). Where the standard entry requirements are A*A*A* a two-grade reduction will be applied.
    • If you have been looked after in care for more than three months or have refugee status the contextual offer is usually two grades lower than the standard entry requirements (WP Plus PLUS).
  • The qualifications and subjects you're applying with still need to meet our published entry requirements. For example, if a course requires Chemistry and Maths, you must take 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 (UCAT for Medicine/Dentistry). 

Please note that contextual offers do not currently apply to T-Level qualifications.

GCSE requirements

Certain courses will offer lower GCSE requirements for WP Plus and WP Plus PLUS applicants.

This will be clearly stated on the individual course profile for participating courses.

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.

Support with travel costs to the University campus

We want to ensure that everyone with the potential to be a successful student with us has equal opportunities throughout our selection process. We recognise that the cost of travel to campus can be a barrier to taking part in our interview and visit days.

We offer to pay bus, train or coach travel to eligible applicants to attend any visit which forms part of the assessment process (such as an interview or visit day). This support is aimed at applicants from low household incomes (those eligible for our Manchester Bursary based on a household income of less than £35,000 a year).

You're eligible for this support if you:

  • receive our WP plus or WP plus PLUS flag (this includes anyone who is care experienced or has refugee status);
  • have successfully completed the Manchester Access Programme.

If you're eligible, you'll receive information about how to request this as part of your invitation to campus.

If you don't meet the criteria, but you face significant financial barriers in travelling to campus, then we encourage you to let the Admissions Team for your course know and we'll consider support on a case by case basis.

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.

Am I eligible?

Use our eligibility tool to see if you could receive a contextual offer for 2024. 

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 or have refugee status, 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. You'll be able to indicate your refugee status when asked for your ‘residential category’.

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 an equal standard of education and that social or socio-economic factors can cause serious disruption to studies. Contextual admissions enable us to consider your achievements in the context of your background to level the playing field and ensure we are being as fair as possible.