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The University of Southampton
Student and Academic AdministrationAdmissions

Contextual Admissions

'Contextual admissions' is a term used to describe the use of additional information, including school performance data and socio-economic markers, to provide context for individual applicants’ university applications and achievement.

Why is the University of Southampton using contextual data?

The University of Southampton is committed to widening participation and ensuring that all students with the potential to succeed, regardless of their background, are encouraged to apply to study with us. The additional information gained through contextual data supports our admissions teams to recognise a student’s achievements and identify their potential to succeed in the context of their background and experience.

How is contextual data used?

Each case is considered on an individual basis and the information used is primarily drawn from your UCAS application form, with the information on participation in widening participation/outreach activities provided by the University’s Access team.

The following contextual information will be taken into consideration and a student will be flagged if they meet one of the following (two for Medicine):

a. You have been in care or looked after for three months or more

This information is derived from two fields in the UCAS application form, so it is important that care leavers declare this in their application. For more information on support available for care leavers, explore our information page.

b. Your home postcode is in a Low Participation Neighbourhood

If you currently live in a postcode assigned to the lowest POLAR4 quintile according to the Office for Students (OfS) and identified by UCAS in the data it transmits to us. You can use our postcode checker to check the status of your home postcode.

c. First generation to Higher Education and you attended a lower-performing school/college

If you are the first generation in your family to enter Higher Education and you attended a lower-performing school/college. This only applies to the school/college you are currently attending/have most recently attended. A lower-performing school/college is where their performance places it in quintile 1 for average QCA points per A level student (or equivalent) (in England, Wales or Northern Ireland) as identified by the Department for Education dataset and provided to the University via UCAS. See document below for a list of eligible schools/colleges.

d. Participation in a recognised outreach or widening participation programme

These are activities and programmes delivered by the University of Southampton that have:

Eligible programmes/activities:

For more information on the University’s widening participation and outreach activities, go to 

e. Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD), Quintile 1

If you live in a postcode assigned to Quintile 1 (equivalent to decile 1 and 2) according to The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government’s’ English Index of Deprivation.

More information about the Index of Multiple Deprivation can be found on the Government website.

You can use our postcode checker to check the status of your home postcode.

Our postcode checker categorizes postcodes by quintile and your postcode should be listed as 1 to be eligible.

Please note, as the classification of your postcode and the performance of the schools you have attended may change from year to year, any current links or downloads are only applicable to applications for the current entry cycle.

f. You were eligible for Free School Meals after the age of 14 (from 2024 entry)

Young people in the UK are usually eligible for fee school meals if their parents or carers are on a low income or in receipt of certain benefits - they will need to have registered with their local authority.

You may also be eligible if you are paid qualifying benefits directly, instead of through your parent or carer.

g. UCAT Bursary (Medicine only)

Eligible for the UCAT Bursary.


What is the University of Southampton offering students who are flagged through contextual admissions?

Every applicant who is flagged through contextual admissions, and meets the academic criteria, will be made an offer which is lower than the typical offer for that programme.

For any other questions about contextual admissions, please contact:


Useful Downloads

Eligible schools for applications made in 2023/24

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