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Contextual information

My institution uses/plans to use contextual information. Can I include this in our access agreement?

It is for universities and colleges to set their own admissions policies and procedures. It is therefore entirely up to you to choose whether or not you refer to contextual information, such as levels of average attainment in an applicant’s school or other indicators of under-representation, in any aspect of your institution’s business.

OFFA’s view is that the use of contextual information is a valid and appropriate way for institutions to broaden access while maintaining excellence. We welcome and encourage the use of contextual information so long as you consider individuals on their merits and your procedures are fair, transparent and evidence-based.

If you do choose to use contextual information, or are already using it, we are happy for you to tell us about this in your access agreement and to include any extra costs involved (for example, the cost of monitoring and evaluation) in your expenditure predictions.

Where can I find guidance on using contextual information?

The Supporting Professionalism in Admissions (SPA) website includes good practice guidance on using contextual information. You may also be interested in SPA’s research report Fair admissions to higher education: research to describe the use of contextual information in admissions at a sample of universities and colleges in the UK.

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