The Student Room Group

ACORN classification confusion

Im trying to see if i fit into the contextuals for some unis , ACORN was the most representative data because it looked at individual streets rather than post code groupings , im from a very posh postcode but im from a side of it thats low income rather deprived and mostly council homes , so all the other demographics data such as POLAR still put me as like the top 10 percent or so of the UK , but ACORN put me in quintile 5 which was the worst ,however i went to check the status of my post code but again the whole data format has changed , unis ask for type 40 and above instead of quintiles now , and my postcode shows as category: 3 Thriving Neighbourhoods, group segment:Metropolitan Surroundings,type segments :22 Younger families and sharers in city terraces.However none of these descriptions appear in the user guide for acorn.
(edited 5 months ago)
ACORN is a profiling developed for marketing originally so isn't always relevant.

You need to check with the Uni directly what criteria they use. POLAR, IMD and SIMD are the most common.
Reply 2
As above, there isnt a 'universal' data set used by all Unis, so you will have to check carefully on each Uni's website to see that they use and if you qualify. Some also use criteria like Free School Meals etc.
Original post by PQ
Universities don’t use ACORN for contextual offers. ACORN is a profiling developed for marketing and doesn’t demonstrate anything about education deprivation.
You need to check with them directly what criteria they use. POLAR, IMD and SIMD are the most common.
This is not true. An increasing number of universities do use ACORN for contextual offers, e.g. Manchester, Oxford, UCL and Imperial. There's an increasing view that it provides more accurate information on socio-economic deprivation than IMD, as it's more localised and granular. POLAR and TUNDRA measure rates of progression to higher education (as opposed to social-economic deprivation), so are different, but both are also used by universities. As has been said in this thread, universities all differ on what contextual offer criteria they use (postcode or otherwise), so it's still important to check their websites. (Some now have a checking tool where you can see if you're eligible or not.)
Original post by catherineom
This is not true. An increasing number of universities do use ACORN for contextual offers, e.g. Manchester, Oxford, UCL and Imperial. There's an increasing view that it provides more accurate information on socio-economic deprivation than IMD, as it's more localised and granular. POLAR and TUNDRA measure rates of progression to higher education (as opposed to social-economic deprivation), so are different, but both are also used by universities. As has been said in this thread, universities all differ on what contextual offer criteria they use (postcode or otherwise), so it's still important to check their websites. (Some now have a checking tool where you can see if you're eligible or not.)


It’s a 4 month old post. Things change.

Manchester and UCL yes they do use Acorn alongside polar. Oxford don’t make contextual offers (they consider contextual data but do not make lower offers) and Imperial use IMD and polar for both 2024 and 2025 entry.
I wouldn’t say it’s particularly increasing aside from in a handful of universities who find it more manageable for their A&P agreements to focus on the acorn marketing dataset than the more detailed (and difficult) IMD - particularly where they recruit from London where polar is a disadvantage due to the high progression to HE rates.
(edited 2 weeks ago)
Why Acorn is rubbish - this is what it states for my postcode IMG_7210.jpeg
Wealthy, car ownership at 3+ per household, high health and average salary of £60k+

In reality - it’s a council estate where over 50% of households have a disabled resident and it’s in the lowest decile for income, health and economic activity with only around 50% of households having access to a car.
IMG_7211.jpeg
Reply 6
Original post by PQ
Why Acorn is rubbish - this is what it states for my postcode IMG_7210.jpeg
Wealthy, car ownership at 3+ per household, high health and average salary of £60k+
In reality - it’s a council estate where over 50% of households have a disabled resident and it’s in the lowest decile for income, health and economic activity with only around 50% of households having access to a car.
IMG_7211.jpeg

The house in the photo does look lovely though! 🙈
Original post by mesub
The house in the photo does look lovely though! 🙈

Not very accurate. The street is half bungalows and half terraced.
Acorn says the average house value is £500-700k, the actual average price houses were sold at last year: £280k.

It’s embarrassingly inaccurate.
Original post by PQ
It’s a 4 month old post. Things change.
Manchester and UCL yes they do use Acorn alongside polar. Oxford don’t make contextual offers (they consider contextual data but do not make lower offers) and Imperial use IMD and polar for both 2024 and 2025 entry.
I wouldn’t say it’s particularly increasing aside from in a handful of universities who find it more manageable for their A&P agreements to focus on the acorn marketing dataset than the more detailed (and difficult) IMD - particularly where they recruit from London where polar is a disadvantage due to the high progression to HE rates.

Apologies, I didn't mean Imperial - got mixed up there. And yes, for Oxford, I should have clarified that I meant contextual admissions, rather than contextual offers. There are other examples, though. Kings and Durham use ACORN for contextual offers. And there are other unis, like LSE and Liverpool, that note it in their contextual admissions processes, although it's not currently one of the criteria for their contextual offers.

Yes, your post was four months ago, but we were still in the same application cycle four months ago. And if any of those universities weren't using ACORN for 2024 entry and are now listing it for 2025 entry, then that does suggest that the measure is becoming more popular.

No postcode measure is perfect (hence the London issue you mention that means POLAR and TUNDRA are not helpful there, apart from in a handful of suburban neighbourhoods). However, as ACORN can be more precise, it can be more useful in areas that are very mixed (and yes, there are plenty of those in London too). This year, most unis are submitting their new Access and Participation Plans for the next four years and I suspect we will see more mentions of ACORN when the new ones are published (most likely alongside - rather than instead of - IMD).

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