Widening access offers
Information on what you need to be considered for a widening access offer.
For applicants to our undergraduate degrees, 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.
Our widening access offer policy covers entry to our undergraduate degrees only and does not extend to graduate applicants to undergraduate degrees (for example, graduate entry to MBChB Medicine, BVM&S Veterinary Medicine Graduate entry Programme, or LLB Law Graduate Entry).
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.
We look at the following factors within our widening access offer policy:
- Where you live (your home postcode)
- The school or college you go to (we’re also interested if you attend a school within the Lothian Equal Access Programme for Schools – LEAPS)
- Your personal circumstances (if you are care experienced, or a refugee or asylum seeker)
- What relevant access or bridging programmes you may have undertaken (i.e. whether you’ve completed a SWAP or UoE Access Programme, or one of our recognised bridging programmes*)
Some of these factors will allow us to make an offer based on our minimum entry requirements; others allow us to give extra credit in the admissions process, sometimes making an offer based on our standard entrance requirements more likely.
We don’t look at factors such as specific protected characteristics (for example sex, disability or race) or parental occupation when making widening access offers.
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, under the University’s “Challenging Circumstances” policy. Although we can’t guarantee that our admissions teams will be able to take these into account, you can still ask your UCAS referee to outline these in your UCAS reference. You may also want to follow this up with further information by contacting undergraduate admissions.
Even if you don’t meet the criteria outlined here, we may be able to offer you some extra support if you become a student with us. For example, we are able to provide extra advice and guidance for student carers and estranged students:
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 are care experienced, 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 more information about your care experience: don’t worry, they only need very basic information from you.)
If you are a refugee or an asylum seeker, we will get that information from your UCAS application and/or your assigned fee status.
Once we have all the information we need, we give flags to any application where we’ve identified these factors. There are two types of flags that we can assign an application: “Plus Flag” and “Flag".
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 if you haven’t already met them, and you will also need to have any required subjects. These vary depending on your chosen course, so check our degree finder for the degree programme you are interested in studying.
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. Veterinary Medicine – progression to interview stage; Medicine - 10% uplift in UCAT, additional consideration in terms of academic score and guaranteed invitation to an assessment day; Art/Design – progression to portfolio stage).
If you are assigned a “Flag”, you’ll be prioritised for a place in degree programmes where competition for places is high. Offers are usually made to applicants who have achieved, or are predicted to achieve, the top of our standard entry requirement range. However, if competition for places is higher than expected, you may need grades above that level to receive an offer. Applicants with a “Flag” are given an offer ahead of others with the same grades.
If you have any queries at all, you can always contact the Widening Participation team.