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Following feedback from Higher Education institutes, AFD has added the Participation Of Local Areas (POLAR) classification groups data set which can be then be easily and efficiently appended to all learner records.

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Using the form below, enter your postcode or start typing an address to see results returned. Select an address and you will see the POLAR data returned.




Participation of Local Areas.

Developed by the Office for Students (OfS), the POLAR classification groups areas across the UK based on the proportion of the young population that participates in higher education.

It looks at how likely young people are to participate in higher education across the UK and shows how this varies by area. POLAR classifies local areas into five groups based on the proportion of 18-year olds who enter higher education aged 18 or 19 years old, 1 being the lowest and 5 being the highest rate of participation.

Widening the access and participation of under-represented parts of society to enrol in Higher Education (HE) is a key focus of the OfS for the next 6 years. To measure and achieve this, OfS is taking an explicitly data-driven approach to the monitoring of institutional performance in this area.

If a HE provider wishes to charge above the basic tuition fee cap, they are required to have an “approved access and participation plan” for students from minority groups, areas of lower Higher Education participation, lower household income and/or lower socio-economic status groups.

POLAR data is now available in AFD’s Postcode Plus and Refiner solutions.

AFD Postcode Plus is our point of entry, property level address validation solution. Helping thousands of users save time and money, it is the backbone of excellent service, customer retention, duplicate prevention, analysis, enhanced reputation and more profitable business performance. POLAR classification is returned when an address is searched for (from any fragment) and selected.


AFD Refiner is a powerful address list cleansing tool capable of automatically cleansing over 50,000 records an hour. In addition to sorting address data with minimum effort, Refiner is able to append data sets including POLAR.


Censation® is AFD’s own geodemographic classification system that assigns one of 52 group codes to most UK postcodes. The code system uses the latest Census data, which is the most complete and comprehensive survey of the UK population. Whilst not specifically for universities, Censation has a wide range of possible applications and can be used to gauge the socioeconomic background of an applicant.

Jackie Thompson, Student Data Manager at The University of Bolton: “We have used AFD’s data controls for ten years now and have enjoyed a good working relationship. Recently, AFD implemented the inclusion of the OfS POLAR data in AFD’s Refiner product, allowing us to automatically append this important data in a batch process.

Since this data shows how likely young people are to participate in Higher Education according to where they live, we are then able to target specific areas with marketing efforts in a bid to meet targets for widening participation and essential funding.”

POLAR data is now available from AFD Software, to get access to the new data set contact Joel Miller today on 01624 811711 or email

Read more about how AFD is helping the Higher Education sector with their data needs at

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