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Solent Unviersity Southampton logo

We’re dedicated to making an excellent university education available to everyone, whatever their background.

That’s why we offer contextual admissions – flexible offers that consider applicants’ challenges, circumstances, background and achievements

That context enables us to make alternative and achievable offers to applicants who have been at a disadvantage – putting the dream of university education within reach of those who might otherwise miss out.

What information is used?

Our contextual admissions process considers circumstances such as individual being a young carer, alongside data such as socio-economic background ­– the area where an applicant lives, the school they attended and more.

That information helps us identify applicants who have been disadvantaged, but have the potential to succeed at university – and offer them the chance to do just that.

Who is eligible?

Our contextual offers are open to UK applicants (studying UK qualifications) applying for three- or four-year undergraduate degree courses (without foundation year) who meet one or more of the following criteria:

  • From areas of low socio-economic status and/or high deprivation, according to the UK: Index of Multiple Deprivation (quintile 1 and 2)
  • From areas of low participation in higher education, according to the Office for Students' Participation of Local Areas data (POLAR 4, quintile 1)
  • Care leavers/looked-after children. Please note applicants must have declared this in their UCAS application.
  • Disabled, having declared one of the following:
    • Social or communication impairment such as Asperger's Syndrome or other autistic spectrum disorder.
    • Blindness or serious visual impairment uncorrected by glasses.
    • Deafness or serious hearing impediment.
    • Long-standing illness or health condition such as cancer, HIV, diabetes, chronic heart disease, or epilepsy.
    • A mental health condition such as depression, schizophrenia, or anxiety disorder.
    • Physical impairment or mobility issues.

Please note - if you feel you have a disability that is not listed above, but that you would benefit from a contextual offer, please complete and submit the self-declaration form.

If you feel you meet any of the following additional criteria, we recommend you complete and submit our self-declaration form as this information is not included in your UCAS application, and will help us provide the best possible contextual offer:

  • Have attended a low performing secondary school, according to DfE data (Progress 8 score - below average or well below average).
  • Are a young carer.
  • Are a refugee.
  • Are from gypsy, Roma and traveller communities.
  • Are from a military family.
  • Are estranged from your family.
  • Are a current/former participant in Step into Success activities, specifically Head Start mentoring and residential visit.

Contextual offers are not available through Clearing.

How to apply

Applicants should apply through UCAS as normal. However, if you think you may be eligible for th additional criteria shown above, then we recommend you complete and submit the self-declaration information form. Our admissions team can then assess your eligibility for a contextual offer, and support you with any mitigating circumstances.

Eligible students will be:

  • Given additional consideration and will not be declined based only on their predicted or achieved grades.
  • Offered an interview or equivalent, regardless of predicted or achieved grades.
  • Made an offer which is lower than the standard entry requirements.

How offers are calculated

  • If an applicant meets one of the above eligibility criteria, the standard tariff will be reduced by a minimum of 16 points.
  • If an applicant meets two or more criteria, the standard tariff will be reduced by a minimum of 32 points.

Lower offers will be dependent on the qualification(s) the applicant is either currently studying for, or has already achieved.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

If you are assessed as eligible for a contextual offer and offered a place at Solent, your contextual offer will show up on UCAS Hub once your offer is made by the University.

You will receive an offer letter via the Solent University applicant portal, which will confirm your contextual offer.

No, you don’t have to accept Solent as your ‘firm’ or ‘insurance’ choice to receive the contextual offer.

For courses that have additional selection attached to their entry requirements, applicants will be invited to either attend an on-site interview or submit an electronic portfolio for consideration.

Decisions and feedback will be sent to the applicant, as per the normal process, taking into account contextual information provided on their application or on the self-declaration form.

A secondary school where the school’s average Progress 8 score is below average or well below the national average.

See the list of eligible schools

We will use DfE Progress 8 measure (2018-19) as our main data set, based on a school’s average Progress 8 score. Progress 8 is ‘the progress that pupils in a school make from the end of primary school to the end of key stage 4. It is a type of value-added measure, which means that pupils’ results are compared to the progress of other pupils nationally with similar prior attainment’ and a ‘school’s Progress 8 score is calculated as the average of its pupils’ Progress 8 scores’.

For more information on how school performance is measured, visit ‘Understanding school and college performance measures’ on the UK government’s website.

If you have checked your school eligibility but believe the information we have is incorrect, please complete the self-declaration form and we will investigate.

Our schools data is based on 2018/19 data from the Department for Education; we continue to use this dataset due to the impact of the pandemic on school and college performance data. As such, schools which are new, or which have changed name, may not always be captured in the dataset.

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