Eligibility criteria

Find out more about the Manchester Access Programme criteria.

Applications for MAP 2024 have now closed. Applications for MAP 2025 will open in November 2024.

The Manchester Access Programme (MAP) is a University scheme that helps local Year 12 students in Greater Manchester get into The University of Manchester (or other research-intensive universities) no matter what your background. 

You’ll get valuable support with your application, and we’ll help prepare you for university life.

Please note that the below eligibility criteria were for MAP 2024. Eligibility criteria for MAP 2025 are subject to change.

Essential criteria

You'll need to meet all of the following to apply:

  • have at least five GCSEs at grade 6 or above (or equivalent, such as GNVQ, BTEC) when you apply. You'll also need at least a grade 4 in English Language and Mathematics;
  • have only attended non-fee-paying schools for your education;
  • live in Greater Manchester, or study at a school or college in Greater Manchester;
  • be a Year 12 (lower sixth) student at the time you apply;
  • attend a state, post-16 school or college, and be studying a two-year Level 3 qualification equivalent to three A-levels;
  • neither parent nor carer has a university-level degree or equivalent (does not apply to care experienced applicants*). Your application may be considered if a parent/carer is currently studying their first degree or graduated in the last ten years;
  • be a home registered student or expect to be a UK national or have 'settled status' (as per the government guidance) by the time you start a university degree. 

In addition to the essential criteria, you will also need to meet one of the priority criteria (see below).

If you are interested in the Medicine and Dentistry strands, there are some additional essential criteria for you to meet (see below).

Medicine strand

In addition to the essential criteria, you’ll also need:

  • six GCSEs at a minimum of grade 7;
  • grade 6 or above in GCSE English Language, Mathematics, and two science subjects. If it's a Dual Award Science or Core and Additional Science, the minimum needed is 6,6;
  • Level 2 BTEC qualifications are acceptable (at distinction or above) in place of one GCSE;
  • you'll need to be studying three A-levels including Chemistry or Biology/Human Biology, and one of either: Chemistry, Biology/Human Biology, Physics, Psychology, Mathematics, or Further Mathematics.

Dentistry strand

In addition to the essential criteria, you’ll also need:

  • six GCSEs at a minimum of grade 7;
  • grade 6 in GCSE English Language and Mathematics, and two science subjects. If it's a Dual Award Science or Core and Additional Science, the minimum needed is 6,6; 
  • Level 2 BTEC qualifications are acceptable (at distinction) in place of one GCSE;
  • you'll need to be studying three A-levels including Chemistry and Biology/Human Biology. 

Priority criteria

In addition to the essential criteria, you'll need at least one socio-economic or personal background priority criteria:

Socio-economic background

Where you live, where you study and financial support are all part of your socio-economic background.  

We prioritise students who:

  • live in a neighbourhood with a low progression rate to higher education or a high level of financial, social or economic deprivation. Check your postcode on our contextual admissions page
  • receive discretionary learner payments/16–19 bursary or free school meals at your current college;
  • received pupil premium or free school meals at secondary school;
  • attended a high school where the average Key Stage 4 performance is lower than the national average;
  • attend a school or college where Key Stage 5 performance is lower than the national average.

You can check your secondary school and current school or college key performance data for Key Stage 4/5 on our contextual admissions page.

White students from disadvantaged backgrounds are particularly underrepresented within higher education and we encourage you to apply if you meet at least one of the socio-economic priority criteria outlined above.

Personal background

Your personal background refers to your life experience and who you are.

We prioritise:

  • young carers (if you're under the age of 18 and help look after someone in your family who is ill or disabled beyond what is reasonably expected);
  • estranged students (irreconcilably estranged from both biological, adoptive or only living parents);
  • sanctuary seekers (such as an asylum seekers or refugees);
  • disabled students who receive a personal independence payment or Disability Living Allowance, or who are registered with their current school/college for their disability;
  • students from a military or service family**;
  • students who identify as one of the following ethnic groups, currently underrepresented at The University of Manchester and within higher education, particularly within higher tariff universities:
    • Gypsy, Roma and Traveller (we use the Office for Student's definition);
    • Black African, Black African Caribbean, mixed-race Black African or mixed-race Black African Caribbean.
  • Care experienced students*. The term 'care experienced' refers to a young person who's been in Local Authority care (either public care, foster care, semi-independent living or residential care homes) for any period of time. The University recognises that any time spent in care can have a significant impact on young people’s lives.

*Note: the University distinguishes between ‘care leavers’ and ‘care experienced’ students to allocate bursaries:

  • Care experienced young people are a priority group for our widening participation programmes and have access to enhanced pastoral support while at University. They may be eligible for additional financial support based on their circumstances.
  • Care Leavers are defined by the University as students under the age of 25 who have been in public care for a minimum of three months since the age of 11 and are eligible to receive the Undergraduate Access Scholarship while studying at The University of Manchester, in addition to enhanced pastoral support.

**This applies to you if a parent or carer serves in the UK Regular Armed Forces, or as a Reservist, or has done so at any point during the first 25 years of your life.

Extenuating circumstances

We understand that difficult family or individual circumstances may affect your exams or the opportunity to go to university, which is why we’ll assess your application on an individual basis if you don’t meet the essential criteria.

Individual circumstances include:

  • living independently from your family;
  • experiencing significant family issues;
  • a disability/health condition that affects your education.

If your situation isn't listed above, please talk to your MAP Link Coordinator (the teacher who coordinates MAP at your school or college).

Your MAP Link Coordinator can help you add these to your application form, including the dates you have been affected and how they've impacted your education.


Unfortunately, we’re unable to consider the general disruption caused by the pandemic as extenuating circumstances. However, if you consider the impact of COVID-19 on your personal circumstances to be extreme, then we may be able to review this on a case-by-case basis.

Please indicate on your application form if any of these circumstances apply to you, including the dates you've been affected and any impact on your academic achievement.

How we'll assess your application

  1. We begin by looking at whether you meet the essential criteria.
  2. We then look at the number of priority criteria you meet, although you only need one to be eligible for the programme. However, if more students apply to your MAP strand than the number of places available, we’ll look at the number and nature of priority criteria you meet.

Not eligible for MAP?

If you are not eligible for MAP, you can explore the Access Manchester website and discover the different access schemes on offer at The University of Manchester that you may be eligible for.

Frequently asked questions

Can I apply in Year 13?

No, we do not accept Year 13 students on to MAP, as the intensive programme of activities and academic work may interfere with your A-level studies.

Can I apply if I resit Year 12?

As the scheme is highly competitive, a place is not guaranteed, so we would not recommend that you resit Year 12 solely to apply to MAP.

However, if you are considering resitting Year 12 for other reasons, we would advise that you contact the admissions office for any courses that you are planning to apply for.

They will be able to provide guidance on how they’ll view this decision, as some courses may make higher offers to students who have repeated Year 12 and some may not be considered at all.

You can find contact details for all admissions offices at The University of Manchester through the individual course profiles on our website.

I have alternative or foreign qualifications – can I still apply?

If you have appropriate equivalent qualifications to GCSEs, we encourage you to apply. Applications will be considered on a case-by-case basis.