Am I eligible?

Check the two lists on this page to find out if you can apply for Access to Leeds. Access to Leeds is only open to UK applicants applying through UCAS.

1. Personal circumstances criteria

You must meet two or more of the following criteria:

Your parents or carers did not go to university

You will be eligible if your parents/carers have not previously completed an undergraduate degree, at a university or polytechnic, either in the UK or overseas.

You are also eligible if your parents/carers have:

  • started but not completed an undergraduate degree
  • got a higher education certificate (HNC) or higher education diploma (HND) from a university, but not a degree
  • your parents/carers completed a university degree during your secondary education
  • got an Open University or similar distance learning degree
  • got a work-based degree on a part-time basis
  • got an undergraduate degree, but you are estranged from them, with little or no contact.

Your home postcode is in an area with low levels of participation in higher education

We determine which geographical areas have a low level of progression onto higher education by using your permanent home postcode (as on your UCAS application) and measuring this against data provided by the government. 

Check if your postcode is eligible for Access to Leeds

You are from a household with a gross annual income of £25,000 or below

When assessing household income, we follow the Student Finance England guidance to assess taxable income, for the previous financial year. The amount is based on gross taxable income, any non-taxable income or benefits are not included in the total amount.

You can demonstrate that you are eligible in one of the following ways:

  • You receive the 16-19 Bursary Fund or Learner Support because your income is £25,000 or below (a referee from your school or college must confirm this). Please note that bursaries or scholarships for school fees for independent schools are not covered by this criteria.
  • You are/were eligible for free school meals during GCSE studies or later (a referee from your school or college must confirm this).
  • Your parent / carer can complete our Declaration of Household Income Form, if you are not in receipt of Free School Meals or the 16-19 Bursary Fund. You can download a Declaration of Household Income (only when applications are open) from the Access to Leeds webpage on how to apply. Please contact the Access to Leeds team if you are living independently without a parent or guardian. 
  • You can provide other evidence of your household income such as a wage slip or benefits statement.

All information you provide will be stored securely and treated confidentially, in line with our data protection and privacy policy. If your income for the current year will be significantly lower than the previous tax year, we may be able to take this into account.  Please contact the Access to Leeds team on to discuss this with us.

You attended or attend a school which achieved below the national average Attainment 8 score at GCSE

We check this using results for the year you sat your GCSE exams.

We look at the Attainment 8 data for the school at which you took your GCSE exams for the year in which you took them and compare this with the England average.

If you changed schools during your GCSEs or have completed examinations over more than one year, we can use the results from any year and school in which you sat a GCSE examination. If you completed your GCSEs in 2020 or 2021, we will use school performance data from 2019 to assess your eligibility.

Please note that independent fee-paying schools are not eligible under this criterion even if they show a lower than average Attainment 8 score. If you have any queries please contact the Access to Leeds team on

Your studies have been disrupted due to personal circumstances

We consider each application on an individual basis, so unfortunately we cannot provide an exhaustive list of situations that meet this criterion. However, they could include:

  • caring responsibilities
  • experienced a recent close family bereavement
  • living independently from your parents/carers
  • studies impacted by a mental or physical health condition
  • other circumstances.

We are willing to consider any circumstances that your referee (a teacher or tutor) can verify as having a detrimental impact on your studies. Your referee will need to provide a brief description of the nature, timescale and impact of the disruption on your studies.

We would generally consider circumstances that have occurred from GCSE studies onwards and/or during sixth form, unless there has been a significant, ongoing impact from an earlier point.  

We will treat any information you provide with the strictest confidence in line with our data protection and privacy policy. Please be aware that, if you apply under this criterion, we may need to contact your referee if we need more information.

Disruption due to COVID-19: Unfortunately, we cannot consider the general disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic under this criterion, unless you can demonstrate how the pandemic affected or continues to affect your studies in a way that is above and beyond the extent of the disruption experienced by the rest of your cohort. 

You are care experienced

You will be eligible under this criterion if you have lived or spent time in public or kinship care at any point growing up, or you are currently living in care.

Find out more about other support for care experienced students that you might be eligible for.

2. Applicant requirements

You must also meet all of these criteria to be eligible:

  • live permanently in the UK and eligible to pay UK student tuition fees
  • apply via UCAS to a full-time undergraduate course at the University of Leeds
  • hold or be studying the required level 3 qualifications (A-levels, BTECs or equivalent) for the course you’ve applied to. Check your course requirements on our Course Search
  • not already hold an undergraduate degree
  • not be taking a foundation course
  • not hold or be taking an Access to HE Diploma except if applying to our Healthcare undergraduate degrees.

There is no age limit for Access to Leeds. You don’t have to currently be in school or college.

If, at any point during the admissions process, we find that you don’t meet these requirements – for example, if your fees status is confirmed as international not UK – we will need to withdraw you from the scheme as you won’t be eligible.

Need further help?

If you have any questions about the criteria, please:

Other contextual admission schemes

Find out about other alternative admissions routes into an undergraduate degree at the University of Leeds, including additional consideration for those who live in neighbourhoods with low levels of participation in higher education and options for mature and part-time students.

Related links