Contextual Data

Where merit matters 

Applications to the University of Liverpool and contextual data

The University of Liverpool is committed to providing equal opportunities for talented applicants from all backgrounds. Fundamentally, we believe that everyone with ability should be given every chance to succeed.  We are therefore exploring ways in which we can use contextual data in our offer making.


What is Contextual Data?

All universities, including ours, receive information from UCAS derived from the details you enter on your UCAS form.

This includes the school or socio-economic context in which you have previously studied, together with information about any disability you may have, and whether you have been in care. 

Taken together, this information is often referred to as ‘contextual data’.

It can help universities to understand more fully the academic potential that you may have, potential that may not have been fully demonstrated by your prior academic achievements.

Considerable research has been undertaken, both at Liverpool and elsewhere, into the validity of such indicators of academic potential. The University is now satisfied that the use of contextual data is sufficiently robust in helping identify applicants who may have faced significant barriers to their education.   

If you wish to know more about the research being undertaken in this area, visit www.spa.ac.uk.


What items of Contextual Data are considered?

The University of Liverpool uses a purpose built system to identify contextual data. This system takes into account a combination of the following indicators:

Your postcode:

The home postcode which you provide on your UCAS application is assessed against geo-demographic profiling datasets ACORN and POLAR 3.  These datasets categorise postcode areas according to a range of characteristics. 

More details may be found on the relevant websites at:

Your school:

We look at your school’s performance level over a three year period, assessing it in line with national averages.

If you have a disability:

If you declare a disability your application will be referred to our specialist Disability Support Team, They are experts in making individual assessments on an applicant’s circumstances.

If you have spent any time in social care:

If you have spent three months or more in social care, you will automatically receive additional consideration when the examination results are published.

The University welcomes declarations of disability and social care status and the information provided from this data will only be used to develop a positive, supportive and fair approach for all.

How will the University of Liverpool use Contextual Data?

If we identify you as having demonstrated academic potential in the context of difficult personal circumstances, the University will use this information in the following ways:

  • If you are made an offer, but narrowly miss the terms of that offer when the examination results are published, you may be given additional consideration and prioritised when places are confirmed.
  • If you originally applied for Year 1 entry but have been made a changed course offer for a programme at Carmel College, you will be prioritised in the Carmel admissions processes.
  • If you already have your examination results when you apply, contextual data may be used to determine whether or not an unconditional offer may be made.