Contextual Data

Use of contextual data: 2021 applicants

If you are a UK applicant under the age of 21, we will use contextual data alongside your UCAS application in order to build up a full and rounded view of your achievement and potential. The University wants to ensure that all applicants with the potential to be successful students here have equal opportunities through our admissions and selection process.

What is contextual data?

Contextual data is additional information that our admissions teams use alongside your UCAS form to assess your application to the University. We do not make decisions on the basis of contextual data alone.

Where available we use four pieces of contextual information. We get these from details on your UCAS application and from publicly available sets of data. The contextual data we look at alongside your UCAS application is as follows:

  • You live in an area of disadvantage, or a postcode with low progression into higher education;
  • The school where you took/are taking your GCSEs has performed below the national average over multiple years;
  • The school/sixth form/college where you took/are taking your A-levels or equivalent qualification (e.g. BTECs) has performed below the national average over multiple years;
  • You have been looked after in care for more than three months.

If you meet the criteria based on your area/postcode, this means your application would receive a WP flag* and you could be eligible for further consideration from admissions teams, for example:

  • When reading your personal statement, we will take into consideration that you may not have had the same access to extracurricular activities or work experience.
  • If you’re invited to an interview, we’ll take into account that you may have had fewer opportunities to prepare.
  • If your predicted grades are one grade below our standard offer, we might make you an offer which is higher than your predicted grades because we know predicted grades are often not a true reflection of your potential. This is known as an aspirational offer.
  • If you meet the postcode criteria mentioned above and  the institution where you took/are taking your GCSEs/A-levels or equivalent has performed below the national average over multiple years, or you have been in care for more than three months, then your application would receive a WP Plus flag* and you could also be eligible for a contextual offer. This is usually one grade lower than the standard entry requirements for the majority of undergraduate courses at Manchester (e.g. AAB would become ABB). Contextual entry requirements can be found in the overview of each course profile.

*For more detailed information on WP/WP Plus flags, please visit the University’s ‘Contextual Data’ webpage.

Combination with access schemes

Contextual offers, in some cases, can be combined with an access scheme offer, which could result in a reduction of up to two grades to the standard entry requirements for any given course. If the standard offer for a course was AAA, for example, this could become AAB with a contextual offer and then ABB upon successful competition of an access scheme (but please note that the grade reduction is applied at the discretion of the Academic School you apply to).


You can find out if you’re eligible for a contextual offer by visiting this ‘Check your eligibility’ page on the University website, but be aware this is specifically for 2021 entry.

Find out more

You can read more about contextual offers over on our blog. You can find out more information on how we use contextual data and how this may change the offer you receive from the University on the main University website.

This information is accurate as of September 2020 and is subject to change.