Why context matters

Achieving a strong set of school or college grades is key to earning a place at our university. We know that can be challenging and that grades are influenced by things like where you live, where you go to school and other factors. That’s why each year we look at each student application in detail. We note circumstances that may have impacted your potential. We treat everyone fairly and admit the brightest and best students, regardless of background.

Advice and support is always available to all future students, but we need to know about you and your context to help you fully. 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 additional help.

What factors do we consider?

The factors we use to generate a contextual flag are:

If you live in a Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD) 20% zone you will get a flag.

You can find your postcode category at: http://simd.scot/

  1. Type your postcode in the "area finder" box on the left,
  2. Click "Go" and then hover over the yellow marker for your house and the box at the right of the screen will describe your postcode area, including "Decile "A", Quintile "B".

If Quintile B for your address states "Quintile 1" you will be allocated a contextual flag.

Schools are key to helping pupils achieve the best grades and progress to university and beyond. We have prioritised some partner schools working hard towards Scottish average in this area which, as at autumn 2019, are as set out below.

SchoolLocal Authority
Arbroath Academy Angus
Auchenharvie Academy North Ayrshire
Baldragon Academy Dundee City
Bannockburn High School Stirling
Beath High School Fife
Braeview Academy Dundee City
Castlebrae Community High School Edinburgh, City of
Castlemilk High School Glasgow City
Craigie High School Dundee City
Craigroyston Community High School Edinburgh, City of
Doon Academy East Ayrshire
Drumchapel High School Glasgow City
Eastbank Academy Glasgow City
Forrester High School Edinburgh, City of
Govan High School Glasgow City
Gracemount High School Edinburgh, City of
Inverclyde Academy Inverclyde
Inverness High School Highland
Irvine Royal Academy North Ayrshire
Kinlochleven High School Highland
Langholm Academy Dumfries & Galloway
Levenmouth Academy Fife
Liberton High School Edinburgh, City of
Linwood High School Renfrewshire
Lochend Community High School Glasgow City
Lochgelly High School Fife
Lochside Academy Aberdeen City
Maxwelltown High School Dumfries & Galloway
Newbattle High School Midlothian
Northfield Academy Aberdeen City
Port Glasgow High School Inverclyde
Smithycroft Secondary School Glasgow City
St Machar Academy Aberdeen City
St Margaret Mary's Secondary School Glasgow City
St Mungo's Academy Glasgow City
St Paul's High School Glasgow City
St Paul's RC Academy Dundee City
Tynecastle High School Edinburgh, City of
Wester Hailes Education Centre Edinburgh, City of
Whitehill Secondary School Glasgow City

If your personal circumstances have been especially challenging we care, especially if you are or have been:

  1. looked after person (Care experienced)
  2. 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 their support
  3. Government refugee or asylum seeker

Please disclose all your circumstances when you complete your UCAS application.

You then need to verify these circumstances via our Applicant Portal - you will find a link in your University of Dundee Application Acknowledgement Letter. This second stage evidence upload is crucial to allow us to fully consider your achievement in context.

If I get a contextual flag, what happens next?

If you are allocated a contextual flag we will either make you an offer or, for subjects that interview, prioritise you for an interview.

We will also offer you a further route to qualify and prepare for university. Around 1,000 applicants each year are offered such pre-entry Summer support. Options include Access Summer School and Online Summer School, which both run each June and July. Once you have applied through UCAS we will let you know if you qualify for such supported entry. Contextual flag candidates need to keep these months free so they can join us and benefit fully.

We want all students entering Dundee to have a great student experience. We recognise preparing for study / achieving a good balance in your life is part of this. We want to help you in every way we can.

Maximising your success

We want you to succeed and so commit our support to you long before your degree starts. That is why Dundee is such a great place to study.

Crucially, we will never use anything you disclose in a negative way. So as you complete your UCAS application, please encourage your referee to tell us about your circumstances.

We want you to have a great time at Dundee, enjoy our award winning student experience and earn a great degree. If you want to know more or have any questions, email participation@dundee.ac.uk


How else might I get a contextual flag?

As our Selectors read your application they may feel that other factors have impacted your study to date and that in combination you deserve a contextual flag. Applicants meeting the criteria below will be given priority for offer or interview wherever appropriate.

Beyond the factors above, our Admissions and Applicant Experience Team will look for further evidence of your path to us being made more difficult by circumstances outside your control. At their discretion they may allocate a contextual flag for factors such as:

  1. you applied from an SIMD Quintile 2 postcode – see Your home postcode information above
  2. attended a School where grades and progress to university are above those of our key partner schools but still low
  3. are an adult returner who has been out of school for five years and out of education for three years or who have a relevant accreditation of prior learning or work record or have been made redundant
  4. have indicated other factors including having declared a disability, declared 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 their Secondary School, declared other adverse circumstances, being transgender, estranged, are in a vulnerable group (e.g. declared a Criminal Conviction or a Children's Panel enquiry) or have taken part in the Reach or ACES or SWAP programmes (with demonstrable engagement)


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