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.
  4. Whether you are a refugee or an asylum seeker
  5. Whether you have completed a Scottish Wider Access Programme (SWAP) or University of Edinburgh Access Programme.
  6. Whether you are eligible for support from Lothians Equal Access Programme for Schools (LEAPS).

Some of these factors will allow us to make an offer based on our minimum entrance requirements; others allow us to give extra credit in the admissions process and then make offers based on our standard entrance requirements – there’s more information about this below.

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.

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

Support for carers and students with care experience

Support for refugee and asylum seeker students

Lothians Equal Access Programme for Schools (LEAPS)

The University of Edinburgh Access Programme

Scottish Wider Access Programme (SWAP)

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. You may also want to follow this up with further information by contacting undergraduate admissions.

Undergraduate contacts

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. For example, we are able to provide extra advice and guidance for student carers and estranged students:

Support for student carers

Support for extranged students

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 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 a bit 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.

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 ”.

You are eligible for a Plus Flag if you fulfil one or more of the following criteria:

  • You are care experienced.
  • You are a refugee or asylum seeker.
  • Your home postcode in the lowest quintile of the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD20).
  • Your home postcode is in the highest quintile of Acorn (Acorn 5).
  • Your current school is in Scotland and has an average progression to Higher Education of less than 30% (average over a three year period).*
  • Your current school is in Scotland and has an average progression to Higher Education of more than 30% (average over a three year period) AND more than 25% of pupils receiving free school meals AND more than 50% of pupils residing in a SIMD20 area.*
  • Your current school is a Lothians Equal Access Programme (LEAPS) Group 1 or 1+ School.
  • You have completed a Scottish Wider Access Programme (SWAP) access course.
  • You have completed the University of Edinburgh’s Access Programme.

*We receive this data from the Scottish Government published datasets.

You are eligible for a Flag if you fulfil one or more of the following criteria:

  • Your home postcode in the second-lowest quintile of the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD40).
  • Your home postcode is in the second-highest quintile of Acorn (Acorn 4).
  • Your current school is in the UK and has a consistently lower than average attainment level of Highers or A Levels.
  • You are eligible for support from the Lothians Equal Access Programme (LEAPS), and you attend one of their Group 2 schools.

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 if you haven;t already met them.

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 contextual checker.

Online checker

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

Online checker

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

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