Contextual Data

Use of contextual data: 2022 and 2023 applicants

We know that the context in which you’re studying can have an impact on the grades you achieve and on your opportunity to take up extra-curricular activities or work experience. Using contextual data means that we can take these things into account which helps us to ensure everyone has a fair chance at getting into The University of Manchester.

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.

The data we consider is automatically provided on your UCAS form. Specifically, we look at whether any of the following apply:

  • you live in an area of disadvantage or with low progression into higher education (UK students under the age of 21);
  • the school or college where you took/are taking your GCSEs/A-level equivalent has performed below the national average over multiple years (UK students under the age of 21);
  • you have been looked after in care for more than three months.

From the 2022 cycle, students with refugee status will also be eligible for contextual admissions.

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 and/or you have been in care for more than three months and/or you have refugee status, then your application would receive a WP Plus/WP Plus PLUS flag* and you could, therefore, be eligible for a contextual offer.

*For more detailed information on WP/WP Plus flags, please visit the University’s ‘Explaining contextual flags’ page.

Contextual offers

If you meet the criteria indicated above and your predicted grades are within two grades of our minimum entry criteria you may be made a reduced (‘contextual’) offer.

  • This is usually one grade lower than the standard entry requirements. Contextual entry requirements can be found in the overview of each course profile.
  • The qualifications and subjects you’re applying with would still need to meet our published entry requirements. For example, if a course requires Chemistry and Maths you must be taking both of these subjects. Some courses may also require specific grades in specific subjects.
  • Contextual offers are only made for courses where the standard entry requirements are ABB or higher.
  • You would still need to successfully complete any additional selection requirements such as an interview or aptitude test (eg UCAT for Medicine/Dentistry).

From the 2022 cycle, refugees and students who have been looked after in care for more than three months may be eligible for a two grade reduction.

Combination with access schemes

Contextual offers, in some cases, can be combined with an access scheme offer, which could result in a further reduction to the standard entry requirements for a 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 the below pages:

Entry 2022: Check your eligibility

Entry 2023: Check your eligibility

Find out more

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 July 2022 and is subject to change.