How do adjusted offers impact university experiences?

Contextual admissions, or adjusted offers, consider the context of an applicant’s attainment. This means that Universities may offer a student who has experienced difficult circumstances a lower threshold for entry to a course than a student from a more stable or affluent background. While all institutions are committed to ‘fair’ admissions, there are significant differences between Higher Education institutions in how contextual data is applied at different points in the admissions process. To date, there has been some research exploring how stakeholders such as university admissions teams and schoolteachers view the contextual admissions process, but there is limited research exploring student voice and their lived experiences. This lack of insight is concerning as it may be that those receiving an adjusted offer may enter university feeling less confident in their abilities to do well. Students with adjusted offers may also experience psychological challenges such as lower self-efficacy and higher feelings of imposter syndrome. 

In this project we will conducted interviews with students from several universities who came to university with adjusted offers. We sought to unravel whether participants believe their adjusted offer impacted their university experience. The interviews were analysed using thematic analysis.  This research has empirical value in extending the limited research within this area, but also practical implications. For example, this valuable first-hand insight could inform support provision for students with adjusted offers as they enter university and throughout their time at university to ensure they receive the support they need, and inform University policies.

PI and Co-Is

PI: Dr Yvonne Skipper, University of Glasgow, School of Education

Research Associate: Charlotte Bagnall

Start and End date

December 2020 - August 2021

Funder and Funding amount

Higher Horizons