Contextual admissions guidance

What is contextual admissions?

The University of Surrey is committed to social mobility and believes, to have a diverse and representative society we must ensure all learners with the potential to succeed at University can do so regardless of their background or personal experience.

As part of this commitment to widening participation, we use contextualised admissions. This is where we use additional information, like socio-economic factors, to understand the context in which applicants have achieved their qualifications, enabling us to identify performance and potential.

You may be eligible for a contextual admissions offer if you are a UK domiciled student and meet one of the below criteria. Alternatively, you may be eligible for a contextual offer through In2Surrey.

What contextual data is used?

Applicants are not required to provide any additional information to the University, the data we use comes from UCAS and includes the following:

Data set



POLAR4, Quintile 1

Applicant living in an area of low participation to Higher Education. This dataset is subject to change each year.

Provided by UCAS and available through the public available dataset postcode look-up tool

Indices of Multiple Deprivation (IMD 1), quintile 1 from the United Kingdom

If you live in a postcode assigned to quintile 1 (decile 1 and 2) according to The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Governments Index of Deprivation. This dataset is subject to change each year.

Provided by UCAS and available through the dataset publicly available:


Disability or long-term health condition data

Included in dataset:

  1. Learning difficulty
  2. Blind / partial sight
  3. Deaf / partial hearing
  4. Wheelchair / mobility
  5. Mental health
  6. Unseen disability
  7. Multiple disabilities
  8. Other disability
  9. Autistic disorder

Provided by UCAS where disclosed by applicant.

Care Experienced

Students who have experience of being in care (ever lived in public care or as a looked-after child) including:

  • With foster carers under local authority care
  • In a residential children’s home
  • Being looked after at home under a supervision order
  • Living with friends or relatives in kinship care

Provided by UCAS where disclosed by applicant.

How do we use this data?

Admissions selectors consider an application on its own merit and on an individual basis as part of a holistic assessment of an application.

Where an applicant has met one of more of the above criteria their application will be considered under a contextual admissions approach. The standard Admissions selection criteria will need to be passed; predicted grades, references, interview/ audition where applicable, and satisfactory personal statement. In most cases, applicants will receive a reduced offer to support their journey to University and to recognise their potential in higher studies.

NB. Subject requirements may not be reduced in the offer. Grades will be reduced by one A-level grade or equivalent.

Where your grades fall slightly short of our published requirements we may make an offer for an alternative course, such as a programme with an integrated Foundation Year.

Monitoring and review

The Admissions Policy is reviewed annually by the Senior Management Team for Marketing, Recruitment and Admissions. Datasets are subject to annual changes. The next review date will be August 2022. Inclusion of additional scope may be included for future cycles and will be listed above.