As part of our ongoing commitment to widening access and participation for all students, regardless of their background or circumstances, we are introducing two new sections in the application for the 2023 cycle, from 17 May 2022 onwards:
Posted Tue 5 April 2022 - 09:48
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View example of new sections and questions. (Please note, the help text has not been added to this test site.)
The two new sections will be displayed in the adviser portal, so advisers will be able to see the questions and answers. Supporting information and advice within the section helps applicants understand the question and why it’s being asked.
- Students have the option to highlight their individual circumstances within the application.
- Advisers can support their students with differing needs and encourage completion.
- Universities and colleges can make more informed decisions about the applicant’s circumstances and ensure supportive measures are in place to support a potential student.
Join us on 28 April for our New for 2023 webinar for advisers
Why are international students being excluded?
In some cases, the eligibility for support is specifically for UK students only (e.g. those with refugee/limited leave to remain status or seeking asylum in the UK, those from a UK Armed Forces background/family, those in receipt of free school meals).
In other cases, it is unlikely that applicants in particular circumstances will be applying as international students (e.g. with caring or parenting responsibilities, estranged from their parents).
As such, offering these questions may confuse applicants or set unrealistic expectations about the support they can receive. However, we will be monitoring the situation and if it becomes clear that universities and colleges would find it beneficial to receive this information from international students, we can certainly review this.
Does a mental health condition need be diagnosed by a medical professional prior to declaration?
No – students do not need to have a mental health diagnosis to share a concern or difficulty in the application. In fact, we strongly suggest they do share this, so that the university or college can let them know what support they can offer.
How is support filtered through to students?
The process of arranging support will vary between different universities and colleges – and not all will be able to offer support at the same level (or even at all) so make sure students are aware of this – researching what’s available at each provider is really important before making an application.
In many cases, the university or college will contact the student to give them information (e.g. about a bursary) or to discuss their circumstances or support needs in more detail so they can be sure they have what they need. This may happen shortly after the application is received or it may happen later in the cycle (e.g. after an offer is made/accepted). In some cases, the admissions team may take the student’s circumstances into account to make a contextualised offer. Some providers may not get in touch at all, so it’s advisable for students to be proactive and make contact with the student services team.
It might be helpful to be aware that the teams looking after support will probably be called something different in each – this is usually something along the lines of ‘student support services’ but the university may have a particular name for it. There will usually be information about this service/team on the university or college website, but do get in touch if you can’t find it.
Will all the five universities see the answers to these questions at the start of the application?
Yes, this information will be sent at the point of application (as with care experience and disability/mental health information currently). This is because some universities or colleges will want to get in touch with information or support immediately, and in some cases this information may be used to make a contextualised offer.
Will it specifically give an option to click for eligible for free school meals? If there isn't an option, students will not tick anything.
Is there any requirement for us to verify the info the students give about their personal circumstances?
No, this information is self-declared and the university or college knows it will not have been verified.
If they require any further information, or to confirm the student’s circumstances, they will get in touch to talk to them directly. In some cases (e.g. to ensure eligibility for a bursary) they may require some evidence but they will help the student in getting this.
Does the personal information, such as mental health, get used for contextual offers or is it for forward use only?
This varies between individual universities and colleges, as they each have their own policies and practices regarding contextualised offers.
Some will take the information about a student’s circumstances into consideration when making an offer, and others will purely use this information to connect students to the right support for their needs.
Not every university or college will offer support at the same level (or at all) so we strongly advise that students do their research before applying, and contact the provider directly to find out how they may be able to support them.
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