Contextual Admissions Policy 2022-23


Student and Academic

1. Background

1 As mentioned within University of Wolverhampton Admissions Policy and Procedures[1], the University’s Admissions Unit makes use of contextual admissions information obtained as part of the UCAS Apply system.

2 Use of contextual admissions information forms part of the University’s ongoing commitment to providing a transparent, high-quality application experience that is inclusive and fair.

3 The University of Wolverhampton remains committed to fair admissions, equality, diversity, fair access and widening participation.



4 This policy has been introduced as a result of recommendations from various professional bodies including Universities UK[1] (UUK), UCAS and the Office for Students (OFS). The University of Wolverhampton uses the information disclosed during the UCAS application process deemed as relevant, outlined below.

5 Identifiers used by the Admissions Unit as part of the UCAS application process includes the ‘care experienced’ or care leaver status of an applicant, the position of the applicant’s stated address according to the Participation in Higher Education of an applicant’s stated address according to the most recently available Participation of Local Areas (POLAR) information and performance versus the national average of the school/college attended by an applicant where they have studied either their GCSEs or A Levels.

6 Applicants can independently view details of their POLAR quintile online through the OFS website[2] or details of their IMD decile on the Government website[3].

7 The University will apply a contextual Admissions decision, in the form of a reduced offer letter (by one grade or 8 UCAS tariff points) where any one of the following is identified:


An applicant lives in a POLAR4 Q1 or SIMD Deciles 1 or 2 postcode area.

An applicant attends an English school/college that is in the bottom 40% of Key Stage 4 or 5 results nationally (for at least two out of three previous years) or where fewer than 50% of pupils receive 5 GCSEs A*-C.

An applicant has spent any time in Care or as a Carer.

An applicant has verifiable participation in selected outreach programmes run by the University.

An applicant has declared a disability or long-term health condition.

8 If two or more of these contextual flags are met, candidates will have their offer letter reduced by a maximum of two grades (equivalent to 16 UCAS tariff points).






9 The following principles underlie the regular use of contextual admissions data used within the offer making process:

  • The data used for the basis of a contextual offer must be relevant to the aims of processing an application in the interest of fairness and must not extend beyond those markers detailed in this policy.
  • The University will be transparent in detailing the criteria in use for contextual admissions.
  • The criteria in use for contextual decision-making will be regularly reviewed to ensure they remain appropriate to the purpose of widening access to Higher Education.
  • Contextual criteria will be individually applied to each applicant, considered on their own merit. There are no set targets with regards to those admitted through contextual admissions but there is an expectation that adopting contextual admissions in the future will contribute to the University’s ongoing, strategic commitment to widening access and participation as outlined in the University’s Access and Participation Plan[1].
  • Contextual Admissions decisions will not supersede any further considerations that are taken as part of the University’s Admissions process (e.g. Fitness to Practise).



10 Due to the availability of data, the use of contextual information will apply to UK applicants where the University has received a completed application through the UCAS Apply system. Where relevant information is not included as part of this, the University reserves the right not to apply contextual principles to any offer made.

11 Where an applicant has completed a prior bachelor degree, they will not be given additional consideration as described above as they are considered to have already overcome the barriers to Higher Education which applicants and students from disadvantaged backgrounds commonly face.

12 Where an applicant is aged 21 or over on 1st September of year of entry, they will not receive the contextual data flags described above but may instead be given additional consideration on the grounds that they have been away from education for a number of years.

13 School performance indicators are based on the most recently available performance data and cannot therefore be validly applied to those who have been away from education for a number of years.

14 Applicants who hold a considerable gap in full time education are encouraged to use the University’s Recognition of Prior Learning[1] application route, as are applicants that are currently, or have been, a member of HM Armed Forces[2].

15 Some courses involve a level of external accreditation or are placement limited and will therefore be exempted from this policy. These courses include, but are not limited to:

  • Apprenticeship programmes
  • BSc (Hons) Medical Science & Clinical Practice
  • BA (Hons) Social Work
  • BNurs (Hons) Learning Disability Nursing

16 If you are unsure as to whether or not the course to which you are applying qualifies for a contextual admissions decision, please contact





17 Eligible applicants will have their offer be confirmed at one grade below the published typical offer level for the course(s) applied for (equivalent to 8 UCAS tariff points) in instances where one contextual flag is met, or two grades below the published typical offer level (equivalent to 16 UCAS tariff points) where two or more contextual flags are met.

18 If your application has been considered using one of the contextual admissions flags indicated above, you will be notified of this through your offer letter.



19 If you have any questions about the University of Wolverhampton’s use of contextual admissions data, please contact

20 Further information is also available on the University’s website at