Contextual Admissions FAQ

What is a contextual offer?

Universities know that grades can be influenced by a range of factors, so to make the processes fairer, some offer something called contextual admissions. This is where the university considers any barriers you may face, and will either reduce their grade requirements or give extra consideration when deciding whether to give you an offer.

What do universities take into account when giving contextual offers?

This will differ by university and sometimes also by course, but the type of factors universities may take into account include:

  • the school you attend
  • where you live
  • if money is tight at home
  • if your parents went to university themselves
  • if you have been in care
  • if you have cared for a family member

This is not a full list, and the criteria will differ between universities, so it’s important to check.

How can I find out if a university gives contextual offers?

  • University websites are a great place to start your research. They usually have a dedicated page where they explain how they make contextual offers, and what factors they look at when making their decisions. It’s always best to email or call the university if you’re unsure about how they make contextual offers, or have any specific questions.
  • Unis might also list their contextual offers on their UCAS pages, so they’re another great place to do some research.
  • You can find information below on whether taking part in a Sutton Trust programme will qualify you for a contextual offer at the university you attend and any other Sutton Trust partner universities

Do I need to tell universities any additional information to receive a contextual offer?

  • Most unis automatically receive the information they need to decide who is awarded a contextual offer directly from UCAS. Some might need to contact you so you can explain your circumstances on your UCAS form. Always check the application process with your chosen unis to make sure you’ve provided exactly what they need.
  • Your teacher or adviser can highlight your specific circumstances on your reference form, so make sure you let your teacher or other referee know.

Do universities take participation in access programmes, like those run by the Sutton Trust, into account when giving contextual offers?

Sometimes unis will take into account whether you have done an access programme, such as a Sutton Trust Summer School, when making a contextual offer. Make sure you enter this information into your UCAS form, and if you aren’t sure how to do this, contact the university or organisation who ran the programme

Will I get a contextual offer for taking part in a Sutton Trust Summer School?

Each university has different policy on this. Please check the table at the bottom of this page for more information.

Is it safe to tell universities information about my personal circumstances?

It can feel a bit odd disclosing sensitive information about your personal circumstances, but we want to reassure you that this information is kept confidential, and won’t negatively impact your application.

UniversityAre contextual offers available at this university?Will I be eligible for a contextual offer if I attend a Sutton Trust Summer School at this university?Will I be eligible for a contextual offer at this univerisity if I attend a Sutton Trust Summer School at another university?
BristolYes.
Click here for more information.
If you meet the minimum entry requirements, you will receive a guaranteed offer or guaranteed interview (for relevant courses). You will be eligible for up to a two grade reduction.No
CambridgeYes but this won't include a grade reduction on the standard offer.
Click here for more information.
However, you may be eligible to take part in the adjustment process.
No.No
CardiffYes.
Click here for more information.
If you apply for Medicine or a related Healthcare degree, you will receive a guaranteed interview.No
DurhamYes.
Click here for more information.
You will be flagged as part of the admissions process.
If you pass the academic assignment that forms part of the Summer School you will get a reduced offer of up to two grades.
No
EdinburghYes.
Click here for more information.
Not specifically linked to taking part in a Sutton Trust Summer School.No
GlasgowYes.
Click here for more information.
Yes
Scottish students: if you complete the programme including the online academic module AND live in an SIMD20/40 postcode OR are care experienced OR estranged from your family you will qualify for an adjusted offer of entry.

Non-Scottish students: if you complete the programme including the online academic module you will be considered at the minimum grade requirements for the course you apply to.
No
Imperial College LondonYes.
Click here for more information.
Not specifically linked to taking part in a Sutton Trust Summer School.No
King's College LondonYes.You will receive an extra flag on your application. You cannot be rejected without a member of the Widening Participation Department meeting with the admissions tutor.No
NottinghamYes.
Click here for more information.
You will receive extra flags on your application and a one grade reduction.You will receive extra flags on your application and a one grade reduction.
RVCYes.
Click here for more information.
You will be automatically eligible for the RVC Veterinary Gateway programme.
Please see individual course pages for contextual offers available.
No
St AndrewsYes.
Click here for more information.
You will be eligible for the minimum entrance requirements which are typically two grades lower than a standard offer.You will be eligible for the minimum entrance requirements which are typically two grades lower than a standard offer.
UCLYes.
Click here for more information.
Not specifically linked to taking part in a Sutton Trust Summer School.No
WarwickYes.
Click here for more information.
Not specifically linked to taking part in a Sutton Trust Summer School.No