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Leading voices

Our offer scheme for applicants and why it matters

Eleanor Ineson, Head of Admissions

Portrait of Eleanor Ineson, Head of Admissions, smiling

We think it is important for people to understand how we make our offers at York St John, because our approach is a little different. It’s all about giving people from a range of different backgrounds the chance to benefit from Higher Education.

For anybody considering higher education, choosing the right university is a complex decision. This is especially true when you get several different types of offers from different places. Universities take a variety of approaches to the way they make offers to students. Our scheme was recently described as a ‘radical’ approach by the Office for Students because of the unique way we use different types of offers that take into account each person’s unique background and circumstances.

The offer scheme we use was designed after listening to feedback and completing a variety of research with our current students and those who might want to join us in future. We wanted to understand their views on conditional offers, unconditional offers and what are known as contextual offers.

As a result of their feedback and our own research, our offer scheme uses a mixture of unconditional, conditional and reduced points offers.  When deciding what offer to make we look at several things: predicted grades; the quality of the application; references; and the background information about an applicant available through their UCAS form.

We use this background information because there is a lot of evidence that people with certain characteristics are less likely to access Higher Education than others.  As a university that has always made access to education central to what we do, we want to help address this so that more people can experience the life-changing benefit of going to university.

As a university that has always made access to education central to what we do, we want ... more people to experience the life-changing benefit of going to university.

The things we look at that we know can be barriers are: the level of deprivation in the place where an applicant lives; the past results of the school or college an applicant attends; and whether the applicant is a mature student, has a disability, has spent time in care, or is the first in their family to enter Higher Education. We allocate points based on the combination of these factors that apply to individual applicants and determine our type of offer consistently based on this information, alongside the other considerations listed above. 

Using background information in this way is known as contextual offer making and it is recognised as best practice in universities as a way to increase opportunities for everyone in Higher Education. Nobody is disadvantaged by this type of offer-making, instead it is a way to look a person’s unique circumstances in the best way we can and make an offer that recognises those circumstances alongside academic merit.

More than half of the students at York St John University come from one or more background that is underrepresented in Higher Education. We think this is a real strength that makes our campus a diverse and inclusive place to study. Our unique offer scheme helps us to build on that strength.

If we make you an unconditional offer it will be an ‘open’ one. That means you can use it to decide whether to make us your first or second choice or choose a different university altogether. Having an unconditional offer from York St John will never depend on you making us your firm choice and it never has. It’s all about choosing the right university for you.

To discuss our offer scheme in more detail you can contact our Admissions Team: admissions@yorksj.ac.uk

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