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Solent University’s mission and strategy are dedicated to the pursuit of an excellent university education that enables learners from all backgrounds to become enterprising citizens and responsible leaders, while also promoting economic and social prosperity for the communities we serve. Solent is a proud champion of widening participation, which is at the core of our operations and our culture.

What are contextual admissions?

Contextualised admissions refers to the use of information and data to assess circumstances and understand context of achievements when an individual makes a university application. Contextual information considers circumstances such as individual being a young carer, whilst contextual data considers socio-economic background such as the area where someone live or the school they attended.

Why Solent is using contextual data

Solent will be using the additional information gained through contextual data to support our admissions process where we will identify disadvantaged students, their achievement and potential to succeed in the context of their background and experience, encourage application and make lower offers to support access.

Eligibility criteria

Students who are:

  • From areas of low socio-economic status and/or high deprivation: Indices of Multiple Deprivation (IMD Quintile 1 and 2)
  • From areas of low participation: Participation of Local Areas (POLAR 4 and Quintile 1)
  • Care leavers/children looked after: This information is derived from two fields in the UCAS application form, so it is important that care leavers declare this in their application.
  • Disabled: those who have declared one of the following disabilities:
    • Social or communication impairment such as Asperger's Syndrome or other autistic spectrum disorder.
    • Blind or serious visual impairment uncorrected by glasses.
    • Deaf or serious hearing impediment.
    • Long-standing illness or health condition such as cancer, HIV, diabetes, chronic heart disease, or epilepsy.
    • 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.
  • Have attended a low performing secondary school (Progress 8 score - below average or well below average).
  • Young carers.
  • Refugees.
  • From gypsy, Roma and traveller communities.
  • From military families.
  • Estranged from families.
  • Current/former participants in Step into Success activities: specifically Head Start mentoring and residential visit.

Application process

Applicants will apply via UCAS or the Apply Online system as normal. Applicants will also be encouraged to complete and submit the self-declaration information form.

Lower offers will be made based on the following calculations (please note the lower offer will be dependent on the qualification(s) the applicant is either currently studying for, or already achieved):

If applicant:

  • Meets one criteria - Standard tariff will be reduced by a minimum of 16 points
  • Meets two or more criteria - Standard tariff will be reduced by a minimum of 32 points

Eligible students will be:

  • Given additional consideration and will not be declined based 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.

We will also support applicants with mitigating circumstances, which can be identified via the self-declaration form.

Download the contextual offers leaflet

Frequently asked questions

What is a contextual offer?

When our admissions team review your UCAS application, we use range of additional 'contextual' information and data to help us make an overall assessment of your achievements and your potential to succeed on a Solent degree course. This includes using nationally available data sets about the school you attend or have attended and your home postcode to enable us to view your academic achievements in the context of your individual circumstances. If you meet one or more of the eligibility criteria specified on this page you will be made a lower standard offer

Why is Solent making contextual offers?

Solent University is committed to widening participation and we aim to create educational opportunities for all students who have the potential to benefit from them, regardless of their background. The additional information gained through contextual data supports our admissions teams to recognise a student’s achievements and identify their potential to succeed in the context of their background and experience.

Am I eligible for the contextual offer?

To be considered, you will need to meet one of the following criteria:

  • From areas of low socio-economic status and/or high deprivation: Indices of Multiple Deprivation (IMD Quintile 1 and 2)
  • From areas of low participation: Participation of Local Areas (POLAR 4 and Quintile 1)
  • Care leavers/children looked after: This information is derived from two fields in the UCAS application form, so it is important that care leavers declare this in their application.
  • Disabled: those who have declared one of the following disabilities:
    • Social or communication impairment such as Asperger's Syndrome or other autistic spectrum disorder.
    • Blind or serious visual impairment uncorrected by glasses.
    • Deaf or serious hearing impediment.
    • Long-standing illness or health condition such as cancer, HIV, diabetes, chronic heart disease, or epilepsy.
    • 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.
  • Have attended a low performing secondary school (Progress 8 score - below average or well below average).
  • Young carers.
  • Refugees.
  • From gypsy, Roma and traveller communities.
  • From military families.
  • Estranged from families.
  • Current/former participants in Step into Success activities: specifically Head Start mentoring and residential visit.

Do I need to apply to receive a contextual offer?

In all circumstances, applicants should accurately complete the UCAS application process. If you believe you meet certain criteria you should also complete the self-declaration form. By doing so our Admissions and Enrolment team will be able to assess your eligibility for a contextual offer.

The information provided via the UCAS application form will assess if you are:

  • From areas of low socio-economic status and/or high deprivation.
  • From areas of low participation.
  • A care leavers/children looked after.
  • Disabled.

It is therefore important that you provide your home postcode and declare if you have spent time in local authority care or have declared disability (via the tick boxes). If you meet these criteria we will automatically make you a contextual offer.

If you meet one of the following criteria, you will also need to declare this on the self-declaration form (submitting this alongside your UCAS application form):

  • Have attended a low performing secondary school
  • Are a young carer.
  • Are a refugee.
  • Are a from gypsy, Roma and traveller communities.
  • Are from military families.
  • Are estranged from families.
  • Are a current/former participant in Step into Success activities, specifically Head Start mentoring and residential visit.

We will then access this information and will check this information is correct via the reference provided. Once this process is completed with checks made, we will make you a contextual offer (if eligible).

If you meet criteria identified by both the UCAS application form and the self-declaration form we will cross reference the information provided and ensure you are provided the best possible contextual offer. 

What if I am applying for a course that has additional selection attached to the entry requirements?

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.

What is the criteria of a low performing secondary school

Applicants who have attended a secondary school where the school’s average Progress 8 score is below average or well below the national average. 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’. Read how school performance is measured

See the list of eligible schools

I believe my school meets the criteria for a contextual offer, but I haven't received a contextual offer

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. Please note, we use the most up to date government statistics at the start of each academic cycle. Our schools data is updated annually, therefore those schools which are new, or which have changed name, may not always be captured in the dataset.

How will I know if I have been made a contextual offer?

If you are assessed as eligible for a contextual offer and offered a place at Solent, your contextual offer will show up on UCAS Track once your offer is made by the University. You should also receive an email from our undergraduate admissions team informing you that you have received a contextual offer.

Do I have to accept Solent as my 'firm' choice to get the contextual offer?

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