Undergraduate study - 2021 entry

Widening access offers

Information on what you need to be considered for a widening access offer.

What are widening access offers?

We look beyond the grades that you achieved – or are predicted to achieve – in your exams. If you have experienced certain barriers that might make it more challenging for you to achieve our standard entry requirements, then we want to take this into consideration. In many cases, we are able to make you an offer at our lower minimum entry requirements.

What are minimum entry requirements?

Our minimum entry requirements are the grades that we ask for as a minimum for you to be considered for a place on a degree programme. These are the grades you need to have to be able to succeed academically (these grades are set by academic staff, so we know that the people who achieve this level have the potential to succeed).

Therefore, it’s very unlikely that we would accept anyone who isn’t able to achieve the minimum entry requirements. For most of our degree programmes, because of the level of competition for places, we are only able to make an offer at the minimum grades if you are eligible for extra consideration for a widening access offer. 

What are standard entry requirements?

Our standard entry requirements are the grades that, based on patterns in previous application cycles, you are likely to need if you aren’t eligible for extra consideration for a widening access offer. In the majority of cases, these are significantly higher than the minimum grades: this is really down to competition for places because we get lots of highly qualified applicants for the limited number of places that we have available.

What factors do we look at when making widening access offers?

We look at three main things when making widening access offers:

  1. Your home postcode: we look at whether or not you live in a geographical area of the UK that is defined by government data as being an area of deprivation.
  2. Your school or college: we look at the academic attainment and, in some cases, the percentage of students from your school or college who progress to higher education.
  3. Whether you are care experienced.

We don’t look at factors such as gender, ethnicity, parental occupation or whether you’ve attended a state or independent school/college when making widening access offers.

Am I "care-experienced"?

What about other barriers that you might have faced?

We only use the factors listed above when making widening access offers. However, you may feel that you have other extenuating circumstances that you want us to be aware of. Although we can’t guarantee that our admissions teams can make any concessions for any other factors, you can still ask your UCAS referee to outline these in your UCAS reference.

Even if you aren’t eligible for extra consideration, we may be able to offer you some extra support if you become a student with us, if you feel you need it.

How do widening access offers work?

When you apply to the University through UCAS, we use the information that you’ve provided on your application to see if any of the factors listed above apply to you.

If you've been in care, it’s really important that you answer that question on your UCAS application. (Our admissions team might get in touch with you to ask for a bit more information about your care experience: don’t worry, they only need very basic information from you.)

We’ll automatically get the other factors (postcode and school information) from your application.

Once we have all the information we need, we give flags to any application where we’ve identified these factors. We then process your application, giving extra consideration depending on which flag you are assigned.

There are two types of flags that we can assign an application: “Plus flag” and “Flag ”. We are currently reviewing the criteria we will use to assign flags for 2021 entry and will update this page by July 2020 with more detailed information.

What concession do you get? 

Plus flag concession

In the majority of cases, a “Plus flag” applicant will be guaranteed an offer at the minimum entry requirement. You need to be predicted to meet those grades, though.

You’ll also need to have any required subjects that we need: this varies depending on your chosen course, so check our degree finder for the degree programme you are interested in studying.

Degree finder

Unfortunately, we can’t make this absolute guarantee for subjects like art, design, medicine, veterinary medicine, education and nursing. This is because we look at more than just academic grades in the selection process for those subjects (we also look at portfolios, UCAT scores, interviews etc.)

In these cases, if you have a “Plus flag” and have achieved or are predicted to achieve the minimum entry requirement, we guarantee that your application will be given extra credit and will progress to the next stage in the selection process (e.g. the interview stage for veterinary medicine or the portfolio stage for art/design).

Flag concession

If you are assigned a “Flag”, you’ll also be given a bit more credit in the admissions process than an applicant without either flag. You’ll be prioritised for a place in degree programmes where competition for places is high, but it’ll be at the standard entry requirement, rather than the minimum.

How do I know if I’ll get a Plus Flag or Flag?

It’s really easy to find out whether you'll get a flag by using our online checker. At the moment, the checker is for applicants who are looking to begin their studies in September 2020. This means its results may not be accurate if you are applying for 2021 entry. Our next refresh of the contextual data checker will take place by September 2020 to include up-to-date information for 2021 entry.

Widening access - online checker

Find out if we will consider you to be a widening access applicant on our online checker.

Online checker

If you’re not eligible for a flag, you might want to look at how competitive our courses are, to see your likely chance of an offer. We produce statistics on this every year.

Admissions statistics

How can I find out more?

You can see the minimum and standard entry requirements for each of our courses on our degree finder.

Degree finder

You can find out more about the factors we look at when making widening access offers:

Support for carers and students with care experience

Lothians Equal Access Programme for Schools (LEAPS)

Schools for Higher Education Programme (SHEP)

The University of Edinburgh Access Programme

Scottish Wider Access Programme (SWAP)

Contact us

If you have any queries at all, you can always contact the Widening Participation team.

Widening Participation

  • Student Recruitment and Admissions

Contact details