Recruitment and Admissions Policy

A Guide to Recruitment, Admission and Widening Access Procedures


Our Recruitment, Admissions and Widening Access processes aim to support Access to an Abertay Degree as outlined in the Strategic Plan 2020-25:

  • We will be regarded as a leader in widening access to university, continuing to innovate in this area and influencing policy.

  • We will ensure that we offer fair access to our programmes. We will admit students on the basis of their academic merit, taking into account their personal circumstances and potential.

  • We will continue to work closely with college partners to ensure that at least one third of our undergraduate intake each year come directly from college and that they are effectively supported in their transition from college to Abertay.

  • We will work with our partners across the education sector to ensure a diverse student population and to remove barriers which may prevent future students from reaching their full potential.

  • We will work with partners to deliver our programmes beyond our Dundee campus.

  • We will increase the number of students from outwith Scotland studying at Abertay.


This document informs the actions of staff involved in the University’s recruitment, admissions and widening access processes, ensuring that fairness, transparency and consistency are embedded throughout the applicant journey.  It also aims to provide the information prospective applicants need to make an informed choice including information on the University’s admissions process, entry requirements and selection criteria.

These procedures have been prepared in compliance with relevant legislation including the Equality Act 2010 and the UK Quality Code for Higher Education: Admissions, Recruitment and Widening Access.


This policy applies to all undergraduate and postgraduate taught programmes of study offered on our Dundee campus including full time, part time and online/distance learning applications from UK and Overseas students.

Admissions to our online portfolio is outside the scope of this policy and these applications are managed by Abertay University online.

Recruitment Admission Key Principle

We aim to provide a professional, fair, equal, and transparent service to all applicants.  Our aim is to provide equality of opportunity for all applicants, recruiting students to an appropriate course suited to their aspirations, and based on their ability to meet the demands and professional requirements of the course.

Roles and Responsibilities



University Academic Schools

Responsibility for setting entry requirements for each course.

Admissions Office

Responsibility for processing applications, application decision-making in line with agreed entry standards, assessing application forms for disabilities and criminal conviction, and assessing fee status of new students.

Student Recruitment and Widening Access

Promotion of the University, courses and facilities to prospective applicants from all backgrounds.

Prospective Student Enquiries

We aim to ensure that all prospective students or enquirers are provided with the information they need to make an informed decision about the best course of study for them and ensure that entry requirements mean that applicants who are admitted have the potential to succeed on the course. Information on courses and entry requirements are published on our website and printed prospectus.  As printed materials are produced well in advance of any start date, the University reserves the right to make amendments to the published contents, methods of delivery or specific entry requirements of courses if such action is reasonable and considered to be necessary.  We aim to ensure that the website is up to date with the latest information and encourage enquirers to refer to this as the authoritative source of course information.

Open Days and Applicant Days

Open days and applicant days provide an opportunity to find out more about our courses to support informed decision-making.  We strongly encourage prospective students to visit our campus, preferably at a formal open day or applicant day where staff and current students are on hand to provide more information on each course and the Abertay experience.  Dates are published annually on our website.

How to Apply

Applications to full time undergraduate degrees should be made via the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS)

Applications to postgraduate degrees are made directly to the University using the online application form on the relevant course pages.

Formal Communications

Formal communication with applicants, including the outcome of an application, will be communicated through UCAS and/or via a direct email communication from the University.  The University will keep applicants informed about the progress of their application and any associated processes such as applications for external residential accommodation.  Applicants are responsible for ensuring that their contact details are kept up to date through UCAS Hub or directly to the University according to the relevant application route.

Late Applications

The deadline for applying to undergraduate degrees the last Wednesday in January each year.  We will still consider applications after this date if places are still available on the chosen degree.

There is no formal deadline for postgraduate degrees.  Applications will be considered until the course start date if places are still available and provided applicants are able to start the degree prior to the final enrolment date.

Deferred Applications

The University will consider applications up to one year in advance.  Where an applicant holds an unconditional offer of a place, it may be deferred for one year.

Entry criteria

The University has clearly documented entry requirements for all undergraduate and postgraduate degree courses.

Undergraduate entry requirements are provided in two ways: our standard and our minimum entry requirements.  Applicants are required to meet or exceed the standard entry requirements unless they meet our widening access criteria to qualify for the minimum entry requirements.

Entry criteria is reviewed annually by the Academic Schools in advance of each application cycle and published on our website and in the printed prospectus. 

Admission to the University is based on academic merit, considering personal circumstances and potential.  The University will look for applicants to demonstrate relevant and appropriate level of academic achievement as well as personal and professional experiences providing an indication of ability to meet the demands and professional requirements of the course.  For a small number of courses, additional means of assessment such as an interview or portfolio may also be required.

The University considers a wide range of UK and international qualifications for entry to undergraduate programmes and assessment of qualifications is carried out by experienced admissions practitioners and supported by the official UK recognition body UKENIC

Where appropriate, applicants must fully comply with current legislation on immigration for the purposes of academic study.  The University has responsibility for its Student Visa Sponsor Licence and reserves the right to refuse to progress any application it considers to pose a risk to its UKVI Sponsor Licence.  The University may at any stage of an application refuse to issue a Confirmation of Acceptance of Study (CAS).

Pathways from College

More than one third of our students join us after completing college qualifications.  We accept a wide range of access, higher national certificate (HNC) and higher national diploma (HND) qualifications for entry to our undergraduate degree programmes.  Our college agreements mean that students can start many of our degrees at year 2 with a relevant HNC or year 3 with a relevant HND. Information on the full range of routes can be found on our website.

Widening Access

We are committed to offering transformational opportunities to anyone with the potential to succeed and benefit from our degrees.  We were the first university in Scotland to introduce a ‘minimum access threshold’, fully recognising the circumstances in which students’ qualifications have been achieved.  Each year around a quarter of our students come from disadvantaged backgrounds. 

We understand that some people have faced extra challenges before applying to university, which is why we consider the background in which academic grades have been achieved.  Applicants who meet the eligibility criteria may be made an offer at the Minimum Entrance Requirements. 

Widening Access (Contextual) Eligibility criteria

The University uses publicly available data on school performance, as well as information declared in the individual’s application form. 

We will take into account whether an applicant:

  • attends a school where a low proportion of students progress to higher education (where progression data is available), or where the number of examination passes at Level 3 (GCE A Level or equivalent) is low (where progression data is not available).

  • lives in an area of deprivation identified by the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation

  • has participated in a recognised higher education widening access programme such as LIFT-OFF, LEAPS, GOALS, or equivalent

  • has spent time in care

  • has parents or guardians who have not participated in higher education

Minimum Entry

Where an offer of admission can be made to a Widening Access (contextual)l applicant, offers will be made at the Minimum Entry standard for our degree programmes with passes in three SQA Higher subjects (rather than the standard offer of four SQA Higher passes). For example, a programme normally requiring AABB at Higher has an access threshold of BBB.

Recognition of Prior Learning

We operate a Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) scheme which encompasses both the recognition of prior ‘certificated’ learning and prior ‘experiential’ learning.  The RPL process may be used where an applicant wishes to use their prior experiential learning and/or professional experiences to gain entry to a University programme. Find out more about the RPL scheme here.

Extenuating circumstances

We recognise that some applicants may have faced individual circumstances that have impacted on their ability to complete qualifications to the standard required for entry to the University.  Such circumstances may include illness, medical issues or serious personal/family issues that have had a serious and demonstrable impact on grades achieved or ability to complete assessments or qualifications.  Applicants are encouraged to provide supporting information where appropriate to allow the University to take extenuating circumstances into account during the admissions process.

Applicants with a disability or additional support needs

Applicants who have a disability or medical condition that means they require help or assistance in practical or academic matters are encouraged to contact the University’s Advisory Service at the earliest opportunity to discuss their individual needs.  The team can advise you on a range of matters and ensure that a comprehensive package is in place with the most appropriate means of support throughout time at the University.

Applicants with Criminal Conviction

In general a criminal record is not regarded as an obstacle to studying.  Abertay will only require information on criminal convictions where an applicant applies for course where there are placements such as Sport and Nursing courses.  These programmes require an applicant to self-disclose all convictions at the point of application through the mandatory question on the UCAS application form.  Ethical Hacking and Cyber security programmes require an applicant to self-disclose all convictions related to computer misuse, sexual offences where technology/computers have been involved, and possession or distribution of child pornography or illegal/extreme adult pornography.  Where an applicant discloses a conviction, the decision to offer a place is taken by the Head of Division or the Dean of School.


We will provide feedback to applicants who have not been offered a place.  Applicants applying through UCAS can see their feedback through UCAS Hub.  Direct applicants receive their feedback via email.

Appeals and Complaints

The University aims to consider all applications fairly, effectively and in line with current policies and procedures.  If an applicant is dissatisfied with the outcome or treatment of their application, they should follow the appeal or complaint procedure as appropriate.

Appeals process

Applicants may make a formal appeal against an unsuccessful decision once feedback has been received from the University.  Appeals must be based on one of the following criteria:

  • The applicant believes they have received discriminatory treatment compared to other applicants for the same course with the same entry prerequisites.

  • The applicant believes the University has not followed its own stated procedures for the processing of applications.

  • The applicant has additional information which was unavailable at the point of application.

Applicants have no right of appeal on academic grounds or against the professional judgement of those deciding on an application.


Applicants have the right to make a complaint if they are dissatisfied with the service they have received from the University.  We seek to resolve as many complaints are possible as near to their point of origin as possible.  Applicants who wish to make a complaint are encouraged to ask a member of staff in the relevant Service to resolve it locally using under the Stage 1: Frontline Response stage of our Complaints Handling Procedure.

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