Widening access criteria

Widening access criteria

We are keen to encourage students from the widest possible range of backgrounds to participate in University studies, and we appreciate that not all students have the same opportunity to meet our advertised entry requirements.

For this reason we take contextualised information into account when making decisions on the applications we have received. Applicants who meet one or more of our widening access criteria may be made a conditional offer of admission at the “Adjusted” entry requirement level. Good performance in additional Highers/Advanced Highers will be required

The table below details the widening access criteria that the University will consider when making an Adjusted or Access Threshold Offer.

Applicants should note that the list is not exhaustive and the University may consider other criteria under its Contextual Admissions Policy. 

SIMD 20 Quintile 1 (Scotland)

You can check if your home postcode is in a SIMD 20 (Quintile 1) postcode using our postcode checker tool. 

SIMD stands for the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation. It is a relative measure of deprivation across area data zones in Scotland. You can find out more about the measure on the Scottish Government webpages

If you have any difficulties in determining if your postcode is in a SIMD 20 (Quintile 1) area please contact the University’s Widening Access team

POLAR 4 Quintile 1 (Rest of UK)

You can check if your home postcode is a POLAR 4 Quintile 1 (Rest of UK) postcode area at the Higher Education Funding Council for England website

Please type your postcode into the box titled Enter postcode. You will then be told which quintile your postcode is in.

Care experienced students

If someone has, at some point in their lives, been cared for by their local authority and the state then they can be said to be Care Experienced. This can include anyone who has been in residential care (i.e. a Childrens Home), anyone who has been in Foster Care (i.e. living with a foster family), someone who has been adopted and anyone who has been in the care of the local authority in their own home (i.e. under a statutory care / protection order).

If this description applies to you please check the appropriate box on your online UCAS form to say that you have experience of being in care. You can also inform us by mentioning it in your UCAS personal statement or via a supplementary document (please see below for more information on supplementary documents).

Remote & Rural Area

You can check if your home address is in one of these target areas by visiting the urban rural classification webpages on the Scottish Government website

The site contains a downloadable map that shows where each of these different areas are in Scotland.

The site also contains a downloadable look-up file that you can use to check if your postcode / home address is in one of the target areas. 

Other widening access categories

What follows is a list of definitions and other information that you can use to check if you meet the other widening access criteria. Please see our Contexualised Admissions Policy above for more information about the information we require and the offer you are likely to achieve: 

  • Caring Responsibilities: “A carer is anyone who cares, unpaid, for a friend or family member who due to illness, disability, a mental health problem or an addiction cannot cope without their support” (Carers Trust). If you have caring responsibilities then please select the appropriate field in UCAS and tell us more about any circumstances that effected your education in either your personal statement or by email to ugadmissions@abdn.ac.uk.
  • Estranged Students: Applicants and Students who have no contact, and receive no support, from their families are referred to as being “Estranged”. If you meet this criteria then please select the appropriate field in UCAS and tell us more about any circumstances that effected your education in either your personal statement or by email to ugadmissions@abdn.ac.uk.
  • Gypsy, Roma or Travelling Community: If you identify as belonging to the Gypsy, Roma or Travelling Community please let us know in your personal statement or via email to ugadmissions@abdn.ac.uk.. Please note that although you can self-identify as coming from a Gypsy, Roma or Travelling Community in the Equality and Diversity section of your UCAS form, the University does not receive this information during the recruitment cycle. Therefore it is essential that if you wish this information to be considered as part of your application that you inform us using one of the methods described above.
  • Free school meal entitlement:  If you were in receipt of free school meals whilst you were at secondary school then please select the appropriate field in UCAS and tell us more about any circumstances that effected your education in either your personal statement or by email to ugadmissions@abdn.ac.uk.
  • Education Maintenance Allowance: If you were in receipt of Education Maintenance Allowance, whilst you were at secondary school, then please let us know in either your personal statement or via email to ugadmissions@abdn.ac.uk.
  • Physical or Mental Health Issues: If a Physical or Mental Health issue has impacted negatively on your education in the senior phase (or throughout the majority of your secondary education) then please select the appropriate field in UCAS, you can tell us more about any circumstances that effected your education in either your personal statement or by email to ugadmissions@abdn.ac.uk.
  • Refugee / Asylum status (Scottish/ EU fee status): If you have been granted Refugee / Asylum status then please indicate this in your UCAS application form. If you have any questions about your current residential status please contact the Admissions team on ugadmissions@abdn.ac.uk.
  • Applicants whose parent(s) have had a custodial sentence: If either of your parents had (or have a current) custodial sentence then please let us know in either your personal statement or via email to ugadmissions@abdn.ac.uk.
  • Applicants who have parents in the Armed Forces: If either of your parents have been (or are still) in the Armed Forces then please select the appropriate field in UCAS and tell us more about any circumstances that effected your education in either your personal statement or by email to ugadmissions@abdn.ac.uk.
  • Applicants who have served in the Armed Forces: If you have had a period of Military Service (Veterans / Early Service Leavers)  then please select the appropriate field in UCAS and tell us more about any circumstances that effected your education in either your personal statement or by email to ugadmissions@abdn.ac.uk.
Supplementary documents

Please note that the University is reliant on the information an applicant submits via UCAS. Therefore applicants should select the appropriate field in UCAS where possible.

In order to tell us more about any additional circumstances that effected your education please do so in either your personal statement or by email to ugadmissions@abdn.ac.uk

Any additional information, which is supplied to the University in a clear and timely manner, will be considered alongside the main application.

Applicants must include their full name and UCAS ID number in all correspondence with the University. 

We would ask where possible, referees mention and verify if an applicant meets one or more of the Widening Access criteria in their UCAS reference. 

If you have any questions about supplementary documents, personal statements or references please contact the Access and Articulation Team.