Contextual admissions policy

As part of our ongoing commitment to widening participation at the University of Kent, we will be formalising the use of contextual data in our admissions process for the 2021-22 cycle. The use of this data will help us to build a more rounded view of an applicant’s achievement and potential, we are keen to ensure that we are able to identify talent using a range of applicant information in addition to prior attainment. We are also committed to ensuring that every application is judged fairly on its merits.

We will use a range of nationally available datasets to inform this policy. A number of contextual factors will be considered when assessing applications, these will help us to identify applicants who may not have reached their potential due to personal disadvantage or prior education circumstances. The University recognises that we are relying on readily available data to make contextual admissions decisions and will evaluate the reliability of this data during the 2020 cycle in order to feed into future policy.

For this cycle England domiciled A level only applicants for 2021-22 entry through the main UCAS cycle who meet the specified criteria will be eligible for contextual admissions. This will mean that eligible applicants will receive an adjusted offer, two grades below the published typical offer level for the course(s) applied for. Course specific conditions will still apply, for example if the course requires you to have a minimum grade in a related subject, this subject grade will not be adjusted.

A level applicants domiciled in England will be eligible for a contextual offer if they meet the following criteria:

  • Live in a POLAR4* Q1 and attend a English state school/college
  • OR
  • Live in a POLAR4* Q2 and attend an English school/college that is in the bottom 40% of KS5** results nationally (for at least two out of three previous years, see the University of Kent's Institution Contextual Flag). We will identify this using the Applicant Centre or the Exam Institution recorded on the UCAS application.
  • OR
  • Have spent any time in Care under a Local Authority
  • OR
  • Verifiable participation in selected outreach programmes run by the University of Kent.

Consideration will also be given to applicants who are studying the University of Kent Access Programme.

To find out if applicants will be eligible for a contextual offer, the following lookup can be used to identify the POLAR quintile that someone lives in:

For POLAR4 quintile 2 students, a PDF identifies those Schools and Colleges that have a School Contextual flag because their performance data shows they are a low performing institution. This includes the methodology for this flag.

*POLAR – Participation of Local Areas: The participation of local areas (POLAR) classification groups areas across the UK based on the proportion of the young population that participates in higher education. It looks at how likely young people are to participate in HE across the UK and shows how this varies by area. POLAR classifies local areas into five groups - or quintiles - based on the proportion of 18 year olds who enter HE aged 18 or 19 years old Quintile one shows the lowest rate of participation. Quintile five shows the highest rate of participation.

**Where data not available, we use KS4.

The Contextual Admissions process:

On application, the criteria will be applied and an adjusted offer (below the published typical level) made through central admissions.

  • Students will apply as normal through UCAS (Kent Institution code:K24), there is no need for additional information for contextual admissions: we have all the information through the existing system
  • Applications will be assessed in the usual way, the only difference will be that applicants who meet the contextual admissions criteria will receive a conditional reduced offer
  • Specific students who have participated in the University’s Outreach programme will be made a conditional reduced offer. Applicants should speak to their Head of Sixth form to discuss eligibility for Partner School students
  • Applicants who studied the University of Kent Access to HE Programme will also receive a conditional reduced offer (8 UCAS tariff points lower than the typical course offer for Access to HE students)
  • Applicants who self-declare on the UCAS application that they have been a Local Authority Looked After Child will be eligible for a conditional reduced offer. Applicants will be expected to confirm their Care Status
  • There may be other conditions attached to an offer but these will be set out separately at individual application level when the offer is made
  • The University reserves the right to apply this process to applications using data available at that time. Where there is no data available in order to make a fair judgement, we will not apply the contextual admissions policy to the application.

Other Information

At this time, only A level applicants entering 3 or 4 year degree programmes at year 1 (excluding foundation years) will be considered for contextual admissions. The University will evaluate the use of contextual admissions and the data available to help us make decisions on contextual admissions during the 2021 cycle and reconsider the inclusion of other Level 3 qualifications including BTEC entrants, in future cycles.

For more information on:

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