Our Policy on Criminal Convictions Our Policy on Criminal Convictions

1. General Statement of Policy

The University is an institution with a concentration of young and potentially vulnerable people. Many such people live in accommodation provided for student use by the University. The University in considering whether to admit a student wishes to ensure that an applicant would not constitute an unreasonable risk to its staff or student members or property. Consequently it requires all applicants to declare whether they have a criminal conviction.

Relevant criminal convictions are currently defined as;

  • Any kind of violence including (but not limited to) threatening behaviour, offences concerning the intention to harm or offences which resulted in actual bodily harm
  • Offences listed in the Sex Offenders Act 2003
  • The unlawful supply of controlled drugs or substances where the conviction concerns commercial drug dealing or trafficking
  • Offences involving firearms
  • Offences involving arson
  • Offences listed in the Terrorism Act 2006

Convictions that are spent (as defined by the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974) are not considered to be relevant and should not be revealed.

Applicants should be aware that for programmes in  teaching, health and social work or programmes involving work with, children or vulnerable adults, any criminal convictions, including sentences and cautions (including verbal cautions), reprimands, final warnings and bind-over orders are exempt from the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974. Individuals applying for those subjects will be asked to secure a disclosure from the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS), or Disclosure Scotland, or an overseas police check, whichever is relevant.

Applicants must inform the University if they are convicted of a relevant criminal offence at the point of application. Failure to inform the University may lead to an offer of a place for study, being withdrawn.

For applicants seeking advice on whether their convictions are spent or relevant, and should be declared may wish to contact Unlock who can provide specific advice in relation to HE applications and criminal convictions.

The University will not unreasonably deny access to the University to any applicant on the basis of criminal record. 

2. Securing Relevant Declarations

2.1 All application forms used by the University for a place of study must require applicants to state whether they have unspent criminal convictions using the following form of words:

“The University requires you to state whether you have a relevant criminal conviction. Please tick either the ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ box. If you tick ‘Yes’ you may be required to provide details of any convictions.”

A statement should be included in all University application forms to the effect:

“I confirm that, to the best of my knowledge, the information given in this form is correct and complete”.

As should the following note:

“Failure to disclose a criminal conviction on each application to the University may affect either acceptance on to a programme or continuation of studies on it”.

2.2 Applicants to full time undergraduate degree and PGCE programmes are received via UCAS and UTT; both agencies supply relevant advice about declarations in respect of criminal convictions

3. Process for Non-DBS Programmes


3.1 Where an applicant has declared a criminal conviction, the Admissions Team concerned will decide whether the applicant is suitable for an offer of a place of study on academic grounds. This may involve inviting the applicant for interview. No indication of the likelihood of an offer being made should be given to the applicant at this stage.

3.2 Where the Admissions Team does not wish to make an offer to the applicant on academic grounds, they shall write to the applicant in the usual way to notify them of the unsuccessful decision. For applicants rejected on academic grounds this is the end of the procedure (although, as with all rejected applicants they have access to the Admissions Appeals and Complaints Procedure).

3.3 Where the Admissions Team does wish to make an offer on academic grounds they shall refer the application to the Criminal Convictions panel for the next stage of consideration.  They should not take any further action concerning the applicant until advised by the panel.

3.4 The Secretary of the Criminal Convictions panel will contact the applicant and request documentation regarding the offence. In the case of UK students this would be details of offence, sentence passed and date and any probation details, if relevant. This information should be sought by the applicant from the Probation Service or other appropriate authority.

3.5 Equivalent documentation may not be available to non-UK applicants. The Criminal Convictions panel will ask these applicants to make a formal statement which should be verified by an appropriate referee (e.g. applicant’s probation officer or solicitor).

3.6 Applicants are given a deadline of 2 weeks to produce documentation concerning their conviction, unless the referral is within one week of a programme start date. In these cases a deadline of 2 days will be given. Failure on the part of an applicant to provide the documentation within the specified period will result in a rejection of their application. For undergraduate applications the reject decision will be through UCAS.

3.7 When the Secretary of the Criminal Convictions panel receives the required documentation from an applicant it is anonymised. The panel, on behalf of the University will make an assessment of the non-academic suitability for a place of study. The panel consists of the Head of Equality & Diversity and the Student Support Service. The decision as to whether or not to admit the applicant will take into account;

  • whether the criminal conviction has any bearing on the applicants suitability to become a member of the student body (e.g. violent or sexual crimes, drug dealing)
  • the length of time since the offence(s) were committed
  • whether the applicant has re-offended, and if so whether there is a pattern to the offences
  • whether the applicant’s circumstances have changed since the time of the offences.

and the panel will give particular consideration to whether the applicant, if admitted, would be likely;

  • to endanger staff or students of the University or those with whom the University interacts
  • to be a threat to University property
  • to unlawfully disrupt  the work of the University
  • to bring the University into disrepute

3.8 If it is decided that the applicant is acceptable for entry to the University, the Admissions Team shall be informed of the decision, together with any conditions of entry, by the Secretary of the Criminal Convictions panel. The Admissions Team will then continue processing the application.

3.9 If it is decided that the applicant is not acceptable for entry to the University, the Admissions Team will be informed of the decision by the Secretary of the Criminal Convictions panel and the applicant will be notified accordingly of the decision.#

4. Process for Programmes requiring a DBS check

Schedule of Programmes

(a) Undergraduate programmes of study that require a criminal records/ disclosure check as a condition of entry:

  • Adult Nursing (BSc)
  • Childrens Nursing (BSc)
  • Learning Disabilities Nursing (BSc)
  • Medicine (MBBS)
  • Medicine with a Foundation Year (MBBS)
  • Mental Health Nursing (BSc)
  • Midwifery (BSc)
  • Occupational Therapy (BSc)
  • Operating Department Practice (DipHE)
  • Paramedic Science (BSc)
  • Pharmacy (MPharm and Integrated Programme)
  • Physiotherapy (BSc)
  • Speech and Language Therapy (BSc)
  • Social Work (BA)

(b) Postgraduate taught programmes of study that require a criminal records/ disclosure check as a condition of entry:

Adult Nursing (MSc)

  • Counselling (MA/PGDip)
  • Occupational Therapy (MSc)
  • Physician Associate Studies (MSc)
  • Physiotherapy (MSc)
  • Primary Teaching (PGCE)
  • Secondary Teaching (PGCE)
  • Social Work (MA)

4.1 Pre-Disclosure Checks and Offers

Where an applicant has declared a criminal conviction the process for non-DBS programmes will be followed (see from point 3 above)

4.2 If it is decided that the applicant is acceptable for entry to the University, the Secretary of the Criminal Convictions panel shall be informed of the decision, together with any conditions of entry. The information provided to the panel will be sent to the Fitness to Practice Coordinator responsible for the programme. The Fitness to Practice Coordinator will make an assessment of the applicant’s non-academic suitability for a place of study. The decision as to whether or not to admit the applicant will take into account any specific requirements stipulated by the accrediting bodies.

4.3 If it is decided that the application can progress the Criminal Convictions panel will be informed. In all cases there will be a condition that a place of study is still dependent upon a satisfactory DBS clearance.

4.4 If it is decided that the applicant is not acceptable for entry to the programme, the Admissions Team will be informed of the decision by the Secretary of the Criminal Convictions panel and the applicant will be notified accordingly of the decision.

4.5 If an applicant is successful in receiving an offer for a place of study, the University will make it clear if there are any non-academic conditions. This will include a satisfactory DBS check. The Student Disclosure Service are responsible for administrating this process.

4.6 Disclosures

There are several important rules governing disclosures:

(a) It is University policy that all programmes require a DBS check due to the level of exposure to vulnerable individuals. The single exception to this rule is MPharm Pharmacy programme, which does not routinely involve unsupervised contact with such groups.

(b) The University will not accept DBS disclosure that were obtained for any purpose other than the current application to the University i.e. they are not ‘portable’

(c) All DBS documentation should be received by the point of registration at the University

4.7 Convictions and Referrals

By completing the DBS application process the applicant is consenting that the original disclosure will be provided to the University. If information is declared on a DBS check the University will determine suitability to commence a programme. When determining suitability, a DBS disclosure will be reviewed by University representatives from the School and where appropriate, the professional body. Where information is considered by professional bodies the case will be anonymised. Until the applicant is notified of the outcome by the School, they are not able to commence the programme.

4.8 If it is decided that the applicant is not acceptable for entry to the programme of study, the Admissions Team will be informed of the decision by the School. The Admissions Team will withdraw the offer, as the applicant has not been able to pass the condition of a satisfactory DBS clearance.

5. Appeals

5.1 An applicant may appeal against a decision on one or more of the grounds of procedural irregularity, prejudice or bias, or extenuating circumstances.

5.2 Where an applicant has been unsuccessful following a DBS review, the applicant has access to the University Admissions Appeals and Complaints Procedure.

5.3 Where an applicant has been unsuccessful following a Criminal Convictions panel review, the Registrar and Secretary shall consider any appeal, and their decision will be final. The Secretary of the Criminal Convictions panel shall inform the applicant of the outcome of the appeal, and notify the Admissions Team, the Student Support Service and the Head of Equality & Diversity.

6. Record Keeping

6.1 All documentation referring to criminal convictions and DBS checks are stored in secure area with password protection.

6.2 Where an applicant with a conviction is granted admission to the University the details of the non-academic considerations relating to the admission will be kept by the Secretary of the Criminal Convictions panel for as long as the student in question is registered with the University. After this point a record of the decision taken will be maintained to provide ‘case law’, but personal details will be removed.

Admissions, Recruitment and Marketing (ARM)

Updated: September 2015