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The Administrative Data Research Network is an ESRC-funded project that ran from October 2013 - July 2018. It is currently at the end of its funding cycle and is no longer taking applications. Administrative data research will be taken forward in a new project, to be launched later in 2018.

Evaluating the use of contextual data in undergraduate admissions

Research Overview

Universities are increasingly using 'contextual data' to help them identify prospective students from disadvantaged backgrounds with the potential to succeed in higher education. At present, however, it is not clear which kinds of contextual data best capture the socioeconomic circumstances of individuals or what the consequences of particular contextual admissions policies might be for widening participation and student achievement. 

This project sets out to meet an urgent need for evidence-based guidance on the effective use of contextual data in university admissions.


The findings of the project will benefit prospective students from disadvantaged backgrounds, facilitating their increased access to higher education generally and to the most selective higher education courses in particular.

Government departments

Department for Education and the Higher Education Statistics Agency

Date Approved

March 2016

Project Lead

Dr Vikki Boliver, Durham University

Page last updated: 24/10/2017