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Contextual offers

Contextual offers

Contextual offers at Royal Holloway

We believe in removing barriers to Higher Education, which is why we have developed a contextual offer for students that meet certain Widening Access criteria.

No separate application forms, no hoops to jump through, no additional work: one simple process to help you start at Royal Holloway. 

We will constantly review this policy and reserve the right to make changes as necessary.  

What is it?

Our contextual offer is a reduction of up to 2 grades lower* compared to the original entry requirements advertised on our website and undergraduate prospectus. 

The contextual offer is made to students who meet certain eligibility criteria (see below) who are from backgrounds or personal circumstances that means they are generally less likely to go to university. 

*Subject specific grades and GCSEs are not part of the contextual offer

* Does not include the Integrated Foundation Year

Am I eligible?

If you have been in Local Authority care for more than 3 months at the time of applying to us and you meet all course entry requirements, then you will automatically receive a contextual offer. 

You may also be eligible for our £3000 a year bursary

Additional requirements

  • You must be a UK resident and be currently or have previously studied at a UK school/college

You must be a UK resident and be currently or have previously studied at a UK school/college.

You must then meet a minimum of 2 Widening Access criteria, which are listed below:

Attend an Aspiring School (low performing school)

Based on the score for pupil’s performance in 3 academic qualifications, from the data downloaded from the Gov.UK website.

Lowest 30% of colleges and lowest 20% of schools are classified as low performing 

We have produced a list of Aspiring Schools for you to check here

To search, press "Ctrl + F" and type in your school/college name. 

Disability or health condition that impacts your daily life We are guided by the definitions on the UCAS form and these typically follow the Equality Act 2010.
Mature student (aged 21 or over at time of course start)  
Your parents/carers have not attended university  
Your home postcode matches the definition of a lower participation in higher education neighbourhood (POLAR 4, Q1) Please click here to check your postcode. 


Contextual offer process and restrictions

Nothing extra.

  1. Just make us one of your 5 choices on UCAS when you apply for university
  2. Ensure your application is as complete and accurate as possible, we look at specific pieces of data
  3. If you meet the course entry requirements and the Widening Access criteria we will do the rest

What we look for in your UCAS application

Home address postcode We use this to find out if you live in a low participation in Higher Education neighbourhood. We use POLAR 4 data to run this search and are looking for Quintile 1. 
Email address We may need to contact you to check on details of your application. We might also use this address to let you know about bursaries and scholarships you are eligible to apply for. 
Date of birth This is to enable us to see if you will be classified as a Mature Student (over 21) when your course starts
Residential category The contextual offer is only open to UK residents. This includes residential statuses: Refugee, Humanitarian Protection & Settled in the UK.
Disability/special needs section If you have a disability or health condition that impacts your daily life please add this to your UCAS form. Also contact us about your individual circumstances so that we can put in the appropriate measures to support your studies. 
Have you been in care & duration of care questions This will enable us to see if you meet one of our eligibility criteria. There is also a Care Leaver bursary you can apply for 
Parental education question This will help us check whether your parents have attended university
School/college/centre number We can check which school or college you attend. And check whether your school/college is listed as low-performing. 
Reference We will contact your referee if we need to clarify any aspect of the information you have provided. 

Assuming you meet the course entry requirements and the Widening Access criteria for the contextual offer: 

  • When we make you an offer through UCAS it will be the contextual one

If this doesn't work for you or you have a question about your offer please get in touch with us

Subject specific course requirements are not part of the contextual offer, this is because the demands of the degree course require a minimum academic level. 

GCSEs are not part of the contextual offer. 


Electronic Engineering BEng 

  1. Standard offer ABB (required A in Mathematics | 5 x GCSEs at grades 9-4)
  2. Contextual offer ACC (required A in Mathematics | 5 x GCSEs at grades 9-4)

The contextual offer does not apply to the Integrated Foundation Year as the entry requirements for these courses are already significantly lower compared to the degree course equivalents. 

For example: 

  • Electronic Engineering BEng offer is ABB – BBB
  • Electronic Engineering Foundation Year offer is CCC

Where an applicant is taking the Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) alongside A-Levels* the EPQ will be taken into consideration and could result in lower entry requirements in an offer. 

If you then also meet the criteria for the contextual offer this will result in further lowered entry requirements in your UCAS offer. 

At this time the university is only able to make an offer that is a maximum of 2 grades lower**

*This previously referenced non A-Level qualifications and we apologise for the error

**Not including subject specific and GCSE requirements

Contact us about contextual offers

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