Disrupted Studies – Guidance for Heads of Sixth Form/UCAS referees

What are Disrupted Studies notifications?

The Disrupted Studies form is a University-wide initiative providing an opportunity for our undergraduate applicants to tell us more about any circumstances that have adversely affected their post-16 studies, or grade outcomes for GCSE subjects that form part of our published course entry requirements.

We want our Admissions Tutors to have all the information they need to enable holistic decision-making – especially if an applicant has experienced disadvantage. However we recognise that it can be difficult for both applicants and their referees to elaborate on these issues within the constraints of either the UCAS personal statement or reference, especially if this information is of a sensitive nature.

All notifications via the Disrupted Studies form must be initiated and supported by the applicant's UCAS referee(s) or their designate(s).

What has happened to the University of Sheffield Compact scheme?

The University's Compact Scheme is no longer operating. Some of the Compact qualifying criteria will be absorbed by the University's Contextual Data policy. In addition, Chapter 5 of the University's Admissions Policy allows our Admissions Tutors to consider information that sets the application in its educational or socio-economic context.

However, we recognise that data alone does not provide a complete perspective of an applicant's background. Our Disrupted Studies form allows applicants to tell us about any extenuating circumstances that have affected their post-16 studies.


We are not issuing prescriptive qualifying criteria for the Disrupted Studies route, given that applicants may be subject to any number of factors outside their control. The following list is not exhaustive, but provides examples of circumstances that would qualify for consideration:

  • Undertaking the role of main carer in the home for parent or guardian, sibling or other immediate family member
  • A period of ill-health affecting performance in examinations or other pieces of assessed work.
  • Bereavement of an immediate family member
  • A period of teacher-absence in subjects that are material to the applicant meeting their offer conditions
  • Applicant is from a care background, or has spent a period of more than three months in looked-after care
  • Other personal, social or domestic circumstances, such as a relationship breakdown at home
  • A disability or longstanding medical condition

Please note that information that sets the application in its educational or socio-economic context will not be considered via this route. This information will be handled in accordance with our Contextual Data Policy Statement.

For more information, please contact Heather Macleod, the Admissions Officer with responsibility for Widening Participation (email: H.Macleod@sheffield.ac.uk, tel: 0114 222 1410).

Completing the form

Part 1 of the form should be completed and signed by the applicant. Part 2 is the responsibility of the UCAS referee. While we trust that statements from the UCAS referee are a complete and accurate record, we reserve the right to ask applicants to provide further evidence (for example a medical note).

While every effort has been made to minimise the burden on both applicants and referees wishing to notify us of Disrupted Studies, we ask you to complete one form for each nominee.


Where possible, Disrupted Studies forms should reach us at the same time as the UCAS application. In terms of assessment for interview or making course offers, we cannot guarantee to consider any information received after this deadline. However information will still be accepted until 31 July of the year of entry.

All Disrupted Studies forms may be subject to further review at Confirmation.

How will this information be used?

All information will be passed on to our course Admission Tutors and will be assessed alongside the UCAS application in accordance with the University's Undergraduate Admissions Policy. This will help our Admissions Tutors to make a holistic academic judgment at each of the three admissions decision-making moments: selection for interview; offer-making; and Confirmation.

Information submitted via the Disrupted Studies form will be recorded on the applicant record. This will enable us both to assess the results of this initiative and to provide any relevant pre-entry support. All data is held in accordance with Data Protection protocols and will not be shared beyond the University of Sheffield.

Further information

Please note that information received via the Disrupted Studies route will not be used in support of an application for financial support. It neither guarantees the offer of a place nor an offer made in variance to our published course entry requirements.

We invite applicants with disabilities to use the Disrupted Studies form, but also to declare these circumstances on their UCAS form. Further information about support is available via the University of Sheffield's Disability and Dyslexia Support Team.