Policy

Contextual admissions policy

Updated on 20 February 2023

An explanation of the factors the University will consider when applying a contextual flag to an application

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We want you to have a great time at Dundee

Putting everything in context gives us the broadest and clearest picture about you.

Why context matters

You can be confident that we treat every applicant fairly during our admissions process, and if you become a student at the University it will be deserved.

Achieving a strong set of school or college grades is key to earning a place at the University. That can be challenging, and we know grades are influenced by things outside your control, such as the impact of deprivation where you live. That’s why each year we look at each student's application in detail including circumstances outside of your control that may have impacted your potential. 

Advice and support are always available to all future students, but we need to know about you and your story to fully help you. We take certain factors into account when we look at your grades and these factors may generate a contextual support flag to highlight who is eligible for support.

Crucially, we will never use anything you disclose in a negative way, so as you complete your UCAS application, please do so as fully as possible and also encourage your referee to tell us about your circumstances and how this has impacted your grades.

There are two categories that the University uses in its admissions process to add a contextual flag – Category 1 and Category 2. What Category you will be eligible for depends on your circumstances.

Category 1

Eligible Home Scottish or Rest of UK candidates allocated a Category 1 contextual flag will be made a Widening Access level offer or (for interviewing subjects) normally be interviewed. To be selected for offer or interview you must be on course to meet our widening access entry requirements, including in any essential subjects, details of which can be found on each course page.

Eligible candidates receiving an offer will be offered a place on one of our pre-entry Access Summer Schools. These help students prepare for university study and can also offer an alternative way of qualifying for entry. We strongly advise such candidates to take up this special Dundee opportunity, keeping all of June and July free to do so.

Unfortunately we are unable to offer a place on our Access Summer school to applicants who are applying for; BSc (Hons) Nursing, Gateway to Medicine, Oral Health Sciences, Graduate Apprenticeships, Articulation courses with Dundee and Angus College and any applicants who are applying as Graduates to any of our courses.

Any one of the following will generate a Category 1 contextual flag and a supported offer:

Category 1 factors What do I need to do next?
If your home postcode at the time you apply is in a Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD) quintile 1 zone You will automatically be allocated a contextual flag when we receive your UCAS application

If you are or have been:

  • receiving free school meals and resident in Scotland
  • a looked after person (Care experienced)
  • someone who cares, unpaid, for a friend or family member who due to illness, disability, a mental health problem or an addiction cannot cope without your support
  • a refugee, asylum seeker or granted humanitarian protection and resident in the UK
  • estranged from your parents (normally not in contact with them for at least 12 months as a result of a permanent breakdown in your relationship, with no sign of this being resolved) and resident in Scotland

You must notify us of your circumstances to enable us to apply a contextual flag. You can usually do this in one of the following ways:

  • indicating on your UCAS application
  • notifying us within your personal statement
  • asking your referee to note within their reference, and describe the impact on your education

If your referee has not noted your circumstances in your reference, we will ask you to upload documentation to evidence your circumstances to enable the flag to be allocated. You can also provide us with any evidence without waiting for us to request it from you.

To do this, please find a link in your University of Dundee Application Acknowledgement Letter to take you to our Applicant Portal. Within My Applications, you will find the link to 'Upload Documents' in the Application Details section, here you can provide us with the information we require.

All documentation must be uploaded no later than two weeks after the UCAS Equal Consideration Date (15th October for Medicine and Dentistry, 26th January for all other courses), or within 2 weeks of receiving a request to upload. Documentation supplied after these deadlines cannot be taken into consideration.

Postgraduate applicants need not upload evidence of their contextual status, as mitigating circumstance information can be included in your reference or personal statement.

Evidence for Contextual Category 1 Factors 

Unpaid Carer

Someone who cares, unpaid, for a friend or family member who due to illness, disability, a mental health problem or an addiction cannot cope without your support. 

Examples of evidence include:

  • Letter from school/college
  • Letter from GP or other health professional
  • Young Carers ID card
  • Letter from a carers’ association
  • DWP Carers Allowance (benefit) letter
  • Young Carers Grant letter

A looked after person (care experienced) 

Someone who is, or has been ‘a looked after person’

Examples of evidence include:

  • Letter from school/college
  • Letter from the relevant local authority
  • Letter from a relevant charitable organisation
  • Letter from GP or other health professional
  • SAAS Care Experience Bursary form, signed by the relevant professional
  • Court documents
  • Adoption certificates

Estranged 

Someone who is estranged from their parents (normally not in contact with them for at least 12 months as a result of a permanent breakdown in their relationship, with no sign of this being resolved).

Examples of evidence include:

  • Letter from school/college
  • Letter from student finance
  • Letter from GP or other health professional
  • Letter from the relevant local authority
  • Letter from a relevant charitable organisation  

Free School Meals 

Someone who is eligible for Free School Meals if they are, or have been, ‘receiving free school meals and are resident in Scotland’  

Examples of evidence include:

  • Letter from school
  • Letter from the council
  • Proof of payment i.e. bank statement / remittance advice
  • Certificate of entitlement

Refugee, Asylum Seeker, Humanitarian Protection

Someone who is resident in the UK with refugee or asylum seeker status, or granted humanitarian protection. 

Examples of evidence include:

  • Residence Permit (BRP card) Refugee Leave to Remain  
  • Residence Permit (BRP card) Settlement Indefinite Leave to Remain  
  • Asylum Registration Card (ARC)  

Category 2

There are other factors outside of your control which fall outside of Category 1 which are deemed to have an impact on your education that the University may take into account in respect of your application. These will be on a case by case basis and will be decided primarily on the impact of the circumstances on your grades.

Note:

Our contextual admissions policy generally and Category 2 in particular  is intended to recognise factors that may have disrupted or affected your education (i.e., circumstances that may impact  your potential).

If you are eligible for either Category this does not guarantee that the University will make you an offer.

We will always look at an application in its entirety and ensure our processes are fair to all prospective students. Any Category 2 factor requires to be clear in recognising any disruption to education associated with the applicant’s experience.

All Category 2 factors including the examples provided below require you to detail in your application any disruption to education associated with your experience rather than simply the fact that the example happened, or is existing.

Examples of Category 2 factors include but are not limited to:

  What do I need to do next?
If your home postcode at the time you apply is in a Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD) quintile 2 zone You will automatically be allocated a contextual category 2 flag when we receive your UCAS application

 

  • are an adult returner (5 years post-school or 3 years post-study) or have a relevant accreditation of prior learning or work record or have been made redundant
  • have declared a disability or a Mental Health issue.
  • faced disruption to your education (assessed as attending five or more Primary and Secondary schools or residing more than 40 miles from your Secondary School)
  • are Transgender
  • in a vulnerable group (e.g. a Children's Panel enquiry)
  • are sufficiently active with Reach/ACES or have completed a SWAP programme

 

You must notify us of your circumstances to enable us to apply a contextual category 2 flag. You can usually do this in one of the following ways:

  • indicating on your UCAS application
  • notifying us within your personal statement
  • asking your referee to note within their reference, and describe the impact on your education.

If multiple contextual category 2 factors are identified, our Admissions team may consider you as a contextual category 1 applicant. Meaning you may also be eligible for interview, a Widening Access level offer and be eligible for our Access Summer School.

 

For the avoidance of doubt, our contextual admissions policy is intended to recognise factors that may have disrupted or affected an applicant’s education (i.e., circumstances outside of their control that may have had a disproportionate detrimental impact on their academic results). We will always look at an application in its entirety.

All admissions are subject to the University’s processes and procedures and applicable law and regulation.

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