Additional support for your child when applying to HE

If your child decides to go into higher education, they could be eligible for a range of  schemes and programmes that would support their applications to a higher education institution and provide additional benefits upon arrival on a degree course. It’s really important that you and your child are aware of these, to prevent them from missing out on an opportunity that they could really benefit from.


University access schemes

What is an Access Programme?

University Access Programmes are schemes and activities that are aimed at talented students from backgrounds that are currently underrepresented at higher education, to give them a taste of the university experience and help them take their first steps towards higher education.

PLEASE NOTE: A University Access Programme is NOT an Access to Higher Education course. An Access to HE diploma is a formal qualification which prepares people without traditional qualifications for studying at university. They are delivered by colleges in England and Wales.

Who can do an Access Programme?

They are usually for students in Year 12 or Year 13, who are currently applying, or close to applying to university. Each access scheme will have their own eligibility criteria that you will be able to find on the University’s webpage, but they are usually based on things such as:

  • Home postcode (living in an area with low progression rates to university)
  • Entitlement to school bursaries
  • Experience of local authority care
  • Academic potential (usually based on GCSE grades)

What are the benefits of doing an Access Programme?

The benefits that your child may receive from undertaking an Access Programme MAY include:

  • A reduced offer in the A-Level grades required to study at the given university
  • Advice and guidance on applying to university, and feeling confident in applying
  • Opportunities to complete work experience, that may help them decide on a programme of study or career, and will help strengthen their application
  • The chance to become familiar with university study and get a feel for student life

What schemes are available at The University of Manchester?

As your local university, it is likely that your child will choose to apply for an Access Programme at our university. To see the list of schemes, eligibility criteria and what they entail, have look at our ‘Access Manchester’ webpages: and watch this video:


Contextual admissions

What is contextual admissions?

Contextual admissions refers to the process whereby universities and colleges use data and information, in addition to your child’s UCAS application, to understand their attainment and potential in the context of their individual circumstances

What is contextual data?

Contextual data includes the use of educational information (school attainment), geo-demographic information (your child’s home postcode), and socio-economic background data (household income – usually shown by your child receiving free school meals, bursaries, etc.). It also includes the context of a child having been in care.

How is contextual data used?

Research shows that socio-economic background, domicile, type of school, and subject choice can all impact your child’s attainment at A level (or other Level 3 qualification). Contextual admissions is used by some HEI’s admissions teams to mitigate these factors, and allows circumstances outside of attainment to be taken into account when a child applies to university.

How does the University of Manchester use contextual data?

Here at Manchester, we use:

  • Postcode
  • Whether a young person has been in care or looked after
  • The performance of your child’s secondary school where they took their GCSEs
  • The performance of the school/college where your child  took their A-Level or equivalent qualifications

If a student lives in a postcode that has low progression to higher education, they will receive a WP flag. This means that our admissions staff will be encouraged to give your child’s application further consideration than someone without a WP flag.

If your child lives in a low progression postcode and meets at least one of the education indicators, or if they  have been in care for more than three months, they will receive a WP Plus flag. This would mean that your child could potentially be eligible for a contextual offer, which is usually one grade lower than the standard offer. For more information, visit our Contextual Data webpages, where you will also find a list of Frequently Asked Questions, should you have any.

Other support

Your child may also be eligible, either within their school or outside of school, for other forms of support, and may be able to get involved in different activities relating to higher education too:

  • IntoUniversity – centres across the UK that support young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to attain either a university place or another chosen aspiration, through a programme of activities, including mentoring, academic support, and focus weeks/days.
    Greater Manchester Higher – GM Higher provide a large menu of outreach activities to help learners make informed choices about higher education. These activities include subject taster days, mentoring, summer schools, and campus visits.