Who goes on UNIQ?

Who goes on UNIQ?

UNIQ is a free programme for state-educated students from all over the UK who are in their first year of further education. Every year more students from diverse backgrounds apply to the University of Oxford and get offered places with help from UNIQ.

Selection Criteria

UNIQ is an access programme, which means that we prioritise UK state school students with good grades from backgrounds that are under-represented at Oxford and other highly selective universities.

Unfortunately, students who attend non-state schools are not eligible to apply for UNIQ, irrespective of the conditions that allow them to attend their current school (i.e. scholarships or bursaries).

We welcome applications from:

  • Year 12 students from England and Wales, in the first year of A level studies or equivalent
  • Year 13 students from Northern Ireland, in the first year of A level studies or equivalent
  • S5 students from Scotland, studying Highers or equivalent

The criteria we use to select students relate to academic potential and information on students’ educational and socio-economic background.

Your educational journey must be one with no large gaps. For example completing your GCSEs and then moving towards A-levels within a year is considered typical progress.

Academic attainment and potential

We use qualifications as an indicator of applicants’ academic potential and use information about schools to put these grades into context.

We don’t want to miss out on students with the potential to do really well at Oxford, so we try to be as flexible as we can regarding the grades we require for UNIQ. As a general guide:

England, Wales and Northern Ireland

We prefer applications with 8 x GCSE grades, including some at 7/ 8/ 9/ A/ A* grades (or equivalent).


We prefer applications with 7x National 5, with some at grade A.

Educational and socio-economic background

Admission to UNIQ is based on the merits of each candidate and takes into account their individual context. Places are prioritised for students with academic potential who:

  • have ever been in care.
  • have been eligible for Free School Meals.
  • live in areas where relatively few people progress to higher education, using POLAR postcode classification.
  • live in areas associated with lower socio-economic backgrounds, using ACORN postcode classification.

UNIQ welcomes applications from students with disabilities and makes reasonable adjustments to facilitate access to their course.

We recognise that some students face additional difficulties in accessing their education, and as a result their academic results may not provide an accurate reflection of their academic potential. If there are any special circumstances that you would like us to consider in your application, please record these in your application in the ‘Extenuating Circumstances’ section provided on the application form.

Please note that information in applications will be checked and that offers of places on UNIQ may be withdrawn if claims within applications are not verified.

More information on the UNIQ admissions process

Care Experience

We strongly prioritise students who have been or are currently in the care system. The types of care include foster arrangements, residential children's home, a supervision order, or kinship care. Note that this may be checked via referee before any offer is confirmed.

Free School Meals (FSM)

A Free School Meal is a benefit available to students to ensure they have regular fixed meals at school at no cost to them. If you are currently eligible for Free School Meals or have been eligible for them in the past, then please note this in your application. This information will be checked with your school or college.


All postcodes are divided into five groups called POLAR quintiles, with Q1 areas having the lowest rate of progression to higher education and Q5 the highest. UNIQ applicants who live in POLAR Q1 areas are selected before students with similar academic potential who live in other POLAR postcode areas.You can check the quintile of your postcode here.


ACORN is a classification of residential neighbourhoods which measures the socio-economic wealth of the area you live in, with 1 being the most economically advantaged and 5 being the least. UNIQ applicants who live in ACORN 5 areas are selected before students with similar academic potential who live in ACORN 4 postcodes.You can check which ACORN category your postcode comes under here. Please note that you do need to register before accessing this information.

UK Residency

UNIQ is a programme for UK resident state school students. You must be a UK resident settled in the UK at the time of applying to UNIQ with no restrictions on the period for which you may stay in the UK. The UK is defined as four constituent countries: England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Crown dependencies and British Overseas Territories are not part of the United Kingdom and are not eligible to apply to UNIQ.

You must have been resident in the UK from 10 October 2022, and this residence should not have been wholly or mainly for the purpose of receiving full-time education during any part of it. We ask that UNIQ applicants have lived in the UK since October 2022 so that when a student applies to Higher Education during sixth form, they will be classified as a home student. Home fee status is only attached to students who have met a three-year residence requirement on the first day of the first academic year of their degree. A student attending UNIQ in 2024 would apply to Oxford that year to be eligible to begin their course in October 2025. Therefore, we ask that applicants to UNIQ have been resident in the UK since October 2022.

There are exceptions to this, as some students are granted home fee status despite not meeting the three-year requirement, for example students who have refugee status recognised by the UK Government (or who are a relevant family member of a refugee with recognised status) or students who have humanitarian protection status recognised by the UK Government (or are a relevant family member of a person with recognised humanitarian protection).

Fee status is defined by UK government regulations. More information can be found on the UK Council for International Students' (UKCISA) website. If you are unsure if you are eligible to apply for UNIQ, please get in touch with us by email.