Contextual data and information can be used to assess an applicant’s prior attainment and potential, in the context of their individual circumstances.
What is contextual data and information?
Contextual data includes educational, geodemographic, and socio-economic background data, such as historic data about an applicant’s school or college. Contextual information relates to individual applicant circumstances, such as if they have been in care, or involved in widening participation activities.
What’s my role in this?
As a teacher or adviser, it’s important to be aware of this practice, so you can give the best advice to your students. Contextualised admissions encourages aspirational applications, and may also help explain why a student has received a certain offer.
What practical steps can I take to help?
- Encourage your students to complete all the relevant application fields in full. The contextual information submitted on the UCAS application is critical to facilitating contextualised admissions.
- Use the reference to indicate any further contextual information which might warrant special consideration. This could include individual circumstances – e.g. mature student, disability, widening participation activities, or information about your school which may affect performance, such as significant staff changes, or damage to buildings.
What might this mean for my students’ university applications?
Contextualised admissions can be used at different stages of the application process, as part of holistic assessment to:
- target students for widening participation activities
- inform a decision, including inviting them for interview, contextual offers, and ‘near miss’ applicants at Confirmation
- identify applicants who may need additional support
- help assess applicants’ eligibility for financial support
Keen to find out more? We’ve produced this factsheet (443.74 KB) in conjunction with the Fair Education Alliance (FEA) to explain what this might mean for your student applications.