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Use and rationale of contextual data

Indicator 1: Socioeconomic Disadvantage

Data to be used

Communities First or ACORN ‘Hard Pressed’ or ‘Moderate Means’ neighbourhoods.


Communities First is the Welsh Government's flagship programme to improve the living conditions and prospects for people in the most disadvantaged communities across Wales. To further this aim, the Welsh Higher Education Funding Council (HEFCW) has set targets for higher education institutions in Wales to attract and admit students from Communities First areas. As this is a Welsh-only initiative, the Communities First data are combined with ACORN data identifying disadvantaged communities throughout the UK to provide a comprehensive postcode-level measure of socio-economic disadvantage for all of the University’s applicants, irrespective of where an applicant is domiciled within the wider UK. Any applicant whose home postcode is identified as located within a Communities First area and/or ACORN categories 4 (‘Moderate Means’) and 5 (‘Hard Pressed’) will receive a socioeconomic disadvantage flag.

Indicator 2: Low Participation Neighbourhood

Data to be used

POLAR3 low participation neighbourhood


The Participation of Local Areas (POLAR) data are produced at ward level for the whole of the UK by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE). The University will use ‘Young Participation in Higher Education’ dataset for applicants aged <21 years on entry and ‘Mature/Part-time’ dataset for applicants aged ≥21 on entry, as appropriate. Whilst there is some overlap with socioeconomic indicators, this measure has been included in the University’s model to assist the University in providing additional context for applicants facing multiple barriers to HE participation. Applicants will be positively identified for additional consideration if their home postcode is identified as falling within a POLAR low participation neighbourhood.

Indicator 3: Individual Adversity

Data to be used

‘In Care’ question on UCAS form.


It was estimated by the Social Exclusion Unit in 2003 that only 1% of care leavers progressed to higher education (Jackson et al 2005 (i)). This was an estimate because no national figures were available. Since then statistics have been collected, and the number of known care leavers aged 19 in full-time education in England was recorded as 260 in 2004 (5% of care leavers), 400 in 2008 (6%) and 420 in 2009 (7%) (BIS 2010a (ii)). This contrasts with an HE participation rate of 45% for the UK population (BIS 2010b (iii)). The numbers are increasing but they are still disproportionately low when comparing care leavers to children who have not gone through the care system. As a consequence, all applicants with a positively completed the ‘in care’ question on their UCAS form will be eligible for additional consideration. Additionally, these applicants will be contacted by the University’s Care Leavers’ Mentor to identify their support needs, if any, during the admission process (iv).


(i) Sonia Jackson, Sarah Ajayi and Margaret Quigley (2005) ‘By Degrees: Going to University from Care.’ London: Institute of Education, University of London.

(ii) Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (2010a) ‘Statistical First Release (SFR): information about looked after children in England for the year ending 31 March 2009’. Available at:

(iii) BIS (2010b) ‘Statistical First Release (SFR): Participation Rates in Higher Education: Academic Years 2006/07 to 2008/09 (Provisional)’. Available at:

(iv) The University offers a package of support measures for Care Leavers intended to help students to settle in, focus on their studies while they are at the University and to graduate successfully, which includes the dedicated support of a Care Leavers’ Mentor. Support is available while applicants are deciding what or where to study, continues through the application process, and is ongoing once students commence their programme of study. Additionally, applicants who are aged <25 years old on admission to the University and have been in care for 6 months since their 14th birthday or 3 months since their 16th Birthday may also be eligible for a Care Leaver’s Bursary, in recognition of their on-going relationship with their Local Authority.


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