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Contextual data

As part of our 2019-20 Access and Participation Plan (pdf 649kb), we have committed to using contextual data to support your application for an undergraduate degree course with us. What this means in practice is that we look at more than just your academic performance when making you an offer.

If you meet one or more of our indicators for educational disadvantage – such as being in care, being a refugee, having a disability, living in an area with less advantaged socio-economic characteristics, or living in a low participation neighbourhood – you could be made an offer that is below the published tariff. You should also note that this is only used in relation to applicants classed as paying ‘home’ fees and domiciled in the UK. If you’ve got any questions, or want to know whether this may apply to you, please get in touch.

What does contextual data actually mean?

Fundamentally, contextual data puts your application into the wider context of your life - it helps us assess you based on more than just your grades. This allows us to identify your potential and help you access Higher Education, even if you haven’t had the same educational opportunities as other applicants.

What contextual data do you use?

We use what are known as ‘contextual data indicators’ to assess your application for undergraduate study, alongside the other information you provide through UCAS. Essentially what these indicators show us is that you may not have had access to the same standard of education, or educational opportunities, as other applicants. We look at the following information as part of this process:

●      Whether you live in a low participation neighbourhood

●      Whether you live in an area with less advantaged socio-economic characteristics (using ACORN postcode profiling data)

●      Whether you have been in care

●      Whether you are a refugee

●      Whether you have a disability.

How could this affect my application?

It’s important to understand that, simply because you fall under one of the above indicators, does not mean you are guaranteed an offer. However, we do take your background into consideration alongside all the other information you provide in your application - your predicted grades, personal statement, references, work and other experience and other academic achievements - when deciding whether to make you an offer and what that offer will be.

By looking at your personal situation, we can assess your potential to succeed on an undergraduate course, as well as better understand the circumstances surrounding your achievements. All of this enables us to make you an offer that may be 8 to 24 points below the published tariff.

What courses use contextual data?

We take contextual data into consideration for any applications to our undergraduate degree courses.

Do I need to submit additional information?

No. All of the information we need is collected as part of the UCAS application process, so you won’t need to do anything else. We do offer additional support, in the form of the BU Maintenance Bursary and BU Care Leavers Bursary, to students who may require extra financial help during their time at university. If you would like to be considered for either of these bursaries, you will need to apply for them through the individual bursary pages.