Access to Leeds

Access to Leeds is an ‘alternative’ admissions scheme, run in parallel to the university’s standard admissions process, which guarantees special consideration for students whose personal circumstances may affect their ability to demonstrate talent through grades alone. But they must demonstrate their potential through other means.

Central to the scheme is the Access to Leeds module that students must complete. This module covers study skills and subject skills, and is designed to help students make the transition from school to university life.

"For me, the Access to Leeds module was a great way to ease into university life so that when I started my course I was less nervous. I was able to experience the type of questions and topics I would be answering at university, and having access to journals and text books really helped me understand what independent learning is like. My advice to students applying through the Access to Leeds scheme is, don’t let the module or the extra application put you off – the extra effort will really pay off in the long term", Law student involved in Access to Leeds

Students who complete the Access to Leeds programme successfully and who received a course offer will also receive an ‘Access to Leeds offer’ which is typically two A-level grades below the university’s standard offer for that course (e.g. BBB rather than AAB at A-level).

While some applicants do achieve their standard offers, staff running the programme believe it offers crucial reassurance and removes a sense of risk which could put some potential students off applying.

Richard Kemp, the manager of the contextual admissions scheme at Leeds, says: “The most significant benefit of the scheme is that it takes the risk out of applying. Applicants may be nervous about applying and the programme is a clear indication that the university wants them.”

Applicants need to satisfy two of seven criteria, including whether they come from a low income background; are the first generation in their family to apply to university and whether they come from a post code area with a low level of applications to higher education.

UCAS applications to Leeds are also sifted by the admissions department to help identify eligible applicants who don’t know about the scheme, but who could benefit from it.

Tracking data shows that the majority of students on the programme achieve either a first or 2:1 and the university is currently carrying out research on destinations of graduates.

The scheme has become very popular and well known since it started 10 years ago, when just 35 students a year took part. In 2014 more than 600 students registered on University of Leeds degree programmes through the scheme, which is one of the largest of its type in the UK.


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