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Admissions in context : the use of contextual information by leading universities.

Boliver, V. and Crawford, C. and Powell, M. and Craige, W. (2017) 'Admissions in context : the use of contextual information by leading universities.', Project Report. Sutton Trust, London.


While the university access gap between disadvantaged students and their more advantaged peers has narrowed somewhat in recent years, the gap at the most selective universities remains stubbornly wide. Contextualised admissions – taking into account a candidate’s background when making decisions on whom to admit – is one way through which universities may be able to make greater progress towards narrowing these gaps. Analysis of information made available via university websites during the 2016-17 academic year by a group of the UK’s most selective universities, the Sutton Trust (ST) 30, indicates that a majority of these universities use contextual data to inform their admissions processes. Four types of contextual indicators are commonly used: individual-level, area-level, school-level, and participation in outreach programmes. Individual indicators, such as having been in receipt of free school meals, are the least commonly used. Participation in widening access programmes is the most common contextual indicator used, with two-thirds of ST30 universities reporting that they take this into account, although this is often restricted to programmes run by the same institution.

Item Type:Monograph (Project Report)
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Date accepted:23 October 2017
Date deposited:08 November 2017
Date of first online publication:30 October 2017
Date first made open access:No date available

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