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Smart Start Experience eligibility

In order to be eligible for the Smart Start Experience and Smart Applications, applicants must meet the following basic eligibility criteria:

  • Be in Year 12 and attending, and have always attended, a state-funded, non-fee paying school/college
  • Grown up in a household where no parent or guardian has achieved a qualification at a university in the UK
  • Be classed as a home student, or expect to be, by the time you apply for a university place. e.g. (living in the UK/Republic of Ireland/EU nationals with settled status in the UK for three full years immediately before the first day of the course). 


In addition, applicants must also meet a least one of the following additional eligibility criteria.

Applicants who meet more than one additional criterion are more likely to receive a place on the programme.
  • You are currently in receipt of, or have previously received at secondary school, free school meals, Education Maintenance Allowance and/or 16 to 19 Bursary
  • Your parent(s)/guardian(s) receive income support or housing benefits
  • You have been, or are currently, in local authority care (for a period of three months or longer)
  • You are, or have been, a full-time or part-time young carer
  • You came to the UK as a refugee or asylum seeker
  • You are attending a school or college with: (i) below average A-Level or Higher points score and/or (ii) low rate of progression to higher education.

(You do not have to tell us whether you attend a school that has below average attainment and/or progression to higher education, we will check this ourselves).

To note: If you are an applicant who does not meet all the requirements of the basic eligibility criteria, but you do meet more than one of the additional eligibility criteria, then please send an email to to discuss your application. Similarly, if you are unsure about whether you meet any requirements of the basic or additional eligibility criteria, then please get in touch at the same address.