Getting inContextual admissions

We want to increase opportunities for people from every background. We select our students based on merit, potential and the ability to benefit from the education we offer.

Put simply, we look for more than just your grades. We consider the circumstances of your education and will make lower offers to certain applicants as a result.

Can I benefit from this type of offer?

What is contextual information?

It's information that we use to help us make decisions about who studies at Strathclyde. No decisions are made on the basis of this information alone.

We use four pieces of contextual data. If you're in any one of these four categories, we'll consider the academic side of your application against our Minimum Entry Requirements, which are lower than our Standard Entry Requirements.

Our categories 

1. Home postcode


We look at where you live using the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD). The index is divided into groups called 'Quintiles'.

If your postcode is in Quintile 1 or 2 (the bottom 20% and 20 to 40% most deprived areas in Scotland) and your application is considered suitable for an offer, you'll receive an offer on the basis of the Minimum Entry Requirements.

Please note that the SIMD look-up is provided by the Scottish Government. Updates of this look-up are outside the University of Strathclyde’s control and may take place during an application cycle. Applicants are, therefore, advised to check their eligibility again immediately prior to submitting their application.

Rest of UK

For applicants residing in the rest of UK (England, Wales and Northern Ireland) we will look at your home postcode using Participation of Local Areas data (POLAR4). If your home postcode is in Quintile 1 and your application is considered suitable for an offer, you will receive an offer of a one-grade concession in a non-essential subject from our minimum range of published A Level entry requirements.

You can check your postcode on the Office for Students website.

2. Attendance at a target school

If you apply from a target school, where we have identified that few school leavers immediately progress to university, and your application is deemed suitable for an offer, you’ll receive an offer on the basis of the Minimum Entry Requirements. This is the list of target schools for courses beginning in September 2024. If you want to check whether a school was on the list for courses beginning in September 2023, please email

3. Time spent in care

Strathclyde is fully committed to supporting care experienced applicants and has implemented a ‘Guaranteed Offer’ process for suitably qualified care-experienced applicants.

For the majority of our courses, if you indicate on your UCAS application that you've spent time in local authority care and you have either met the Minimum Entry Requirements or are currently studying qualifications which could potentially allow you to meet the Minimum Entry Requirements, we guarantee that we'll make you an offer to study at Strathclyde. Where we can't make you an offer, we will follow up with individual feedback and advice on alternative routes to study with us. 

For some of our courses with professional requirements, such as Social Work or Primary Education, our guarantee for care experienced applicants is slightly different. For such courses, if a care experienced applicant has either met the Minimum Entry Requirements or is currently studying qualifications which could potentially allow them to meet the Minimum Entry Requirements, then we guarantee that their application will be progressed to the next stage of selection (e.g. invitation to interview; or invitation to fill out an additional information pack which is mandatory for Social Work applicants who pass the academic side of the application process). If a care-experienced applicant is unsuccessful at this stage but still meets the academic requirements for entry to Strathclyde, they will be given an offer for an alternative course.

4. Caring responsibilities

If you are a carer, please let us know by ticking the carer box on the UCAS application form. Verification of your caring role will be required and can be emailed to the University’s named contact for student carers, Louise Martin, at Verification can include an NHS carers card; a letter from a carers centre; a confirmation letter from a GP, medical professional or teacher; or evidence of being in receipt of carers allowance. If your caring duties are mentioned in your teacher’s reference, then no further evidence is required.

What grades will I need?

Find out more about the contextual entry requirements we'll be using for those looking to study with us for courses beginning in September 2024.

How do I let you know I'm eligible?

You don’t need to contact us directly. We use the information you provide in the online UCAS application form to determine whether you’re eligible. If you are a carer who has already applied and did not have this noted in either your UCAS personal statement or reference, then please email the University’s named contact for student carers, Louise Martin, at

Related information


If you have any queries about your eligibility, please get in touch with the Widening Access Team. Our email is

Not everyone who meets the eligibility criteria will be made an offer. However, if an offer is made, then it will be on the basis of the Minimum Entry Requirements for the relevant course.

If an application, through information contained in sections including the personal statement and reference, provides evidence that the applicant is not suitable to be considered for admission to the particular degree programme, even with the flexibility that our Minimum Entry Requirements provide, an offer cannot be made.

In addition, offers from Strathclyde can only be made in line with any constraints placed by the Scottish Funding Council on numbers of funded places, and in the context of overall demand. 

We are aware that residents of very rural island communities may face unique challenges which have impacted upon their education and we are currently reviewing our support for applicants from this group. In the meantime, if you are a rural island resident who feels that you fall within this category, please follow up your application to Strathclyde with an email to and someone from the team will be in touch.


Are you taking FOCUS West Top-Up as a qualification?

FOCUS West is funded by the Scottish Funding Council and is part of the National Schools for Higher Education Programme. It works in schools in the West of Scotland and is delivered by staff and students from universities and colleges in the region. The Top-Up programme is the element of FOCUS West delivered to senior pupils who intend to progress directly to university.

We support the aims of FOCUS West and encourage pupils to participate in the FOCUS West Top-Up Programme.

If an applicant notes their participation on their UCAS application, and they're deemed eligible for an offer, this will be reduced by one grade in a non-named subject, conditional on their gaining a FOCUS West Top-Up profile of BBB or above.

If the applicant is also eligible for consideration on the basis of our Minimum Entry Requirements, the reduction will be one further grade on the published Minimum Entry Requirements for that course. Find out more about FOCUS West.

About SIMD

SIMD is a Scottish Government measure of deprivation calculated on an area-by-area basis combining seven different domains (aspects) of deprivation.

Since 2013/14, the Scottish Funding Council (SFC) has provided additional undergraduate places for students whose home address is in a SIMD40 (40% most deprived) Data Zone.

The current version of SIMD is available on the Scottish Government's website.

It was published by the Scottish Government in late 2020, with previous versions published in 2004, 2006, 2009, and 2016.

The Scottish Government provides a postcode lookup file to enable SIMD analysis of data containing postcodes. We have taken the data from that lookup file and used it to power our postcode lookup tool above on this webpage (under point “1. Home postcode”).

The look-up tool is applicable for entry in 2021.