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Criminal convictions

To help the collegiate University reduce the risk of harm or injury to students and staff caused by any criminal behaviour of students, we must know about any relevant convictions that you may have. If you declare a relevant criminal conviction (see below for further details) your application will, in the first instance, be assessed according to the published selection criteria for the programme you have selected. All published selection criteria focus on academic excellence. 

Information relating to your conviction will be considered separately from your academic achievements by appointed University and college staff. Any information disclosed by you about  a criminal conviction will only be passed to the University’s Criminal Convictions Group (CCG), which is a specified group of appointed University and college staff comprised of the Head of Graduate Admissions, the relevant Director of Graduate Studies for the programme you have applied for, a representative from the accepting college, if known, or the chair of the Graduate Committee of the Conference of Colleges or their nominee and the Director of Student Welfare and Support Services. A representative of the University’s Legal Services Department will also sit on this group, but only in an advisory capacity.

Any information considered by the CCG will be on paper, with the Head of Graduate Admissions keeping an electronic copy which will not be circulated (see the section on Data Protection below for more information on how the University processes, accesses and stores your data). 

The University may want to ask you for more information before a decision is made. Third parties may also be approached for information, but this will not be done without your permission. If you are charged with a relevant criminal offence after you have submitted your application, or after you have been made an offer, you must tell the University as soon as possible. When you do so, the same process as for convictions declared at the time of applying will be carried out; this process is detailed above.

When considering a criminal conviction, the Criminal Convictions Group will take into account the following factors:

  • The nature of the offence(s).
  • The time that has passed since the offence was committed.
  • Any additional information provided by other sources, such as the Probation Service, Social Services or senior prison officers, in the form of independent references or reports.
  • If more than one offence was committed, whether each was a separate offence or part of a series of similar offences.
  • The potential impact on fellow students, staff and others with whom the applicant will have contact.

One of the following decisions will be made by the Criminal Convictions Group:

  • To require further information from you or a third party
  • To permit an invitation for interview to be issued
  • To permit an offer to be made with no further conditions
  • To permit a conditional offer to be made, for example with a condition relating to pastoral issues such as support for the applicant. In such cases the Head of Graduate Admissions will contact the applicant to outline the conditions set by the Criminal Convictions Group
  • To reject the application; in this case the Head of Graduate Admissions will contact the applicant to inform them of the decision
  • In the event that the applicant is offered a place, the CCG must determine who, if anyone, within the University should be provided with details of the conviction. The CCG must also determine who, if anyone, within the University will keep details of the conviction in the case where the applicant becomes a registered student.

Please note that the above possible decisions, related to your criminal conviction, are independent from the academic assessment of your application. If the Criminal Convictions Group, after having considered your criminal conviction, issued a permission to make an offer on your application, you would still need to meet the terms and conditions of this offer as set out in the departmental and college offer letters.

If you fail to declare a relevant criminal conviction at any point in the admission process, then your application will be considered to be fraudulent and the University, or any College of the University, will retain the right to withdraw your application. If you have been made an offer by the University, or any College of the University, then the University, or any College of the University, may in these circumstances withdraw or amend that offer. If you have been admitted as a student, you may be subject to disciplinary action which could result in your expulsion from the University and your College. 

Declaring relevant unspent criminal convictions

You must declare any unspent criminal convictions related to:

  • offences against the person, whether of a violent or sexual nature
  • convictions for offences involving unlawfully supplying controlled drugs or substances where the conviction concerns commercial drug dealing or trafficking 
  • offences where you are currently serving a prison sentence for a relevant criminal conviction; in these circumstances you must give the prison address as your postal address in the contact details on the application form, and in addition, a senior prison officer must support your application

Note that if you are applying to a programme involving teaching, health or social work which requires working with children or vulnerable adults (please see list of Programmes requiring a Disclosure and Barring Service check below), you have a separate additional obligation to tell us about any criminal convictions, including spent convictions, verbal cautions and bind-over orders.

Successful applicants to these programmes may also be required to undergo a formal Disclosure and Barring Service check (DBS). More information may be found on the DBS website.

Programmes requiring a Disclosure and Barring Service check

  • PGCE
  • Medical Sciences
    Although a DBS check will not be carried out routinely at the time of application, a check may be required at a later stage, depending upon the agreed research topic
  • Diploma and Masters in Psychodynamic Practice
    DBS checks will be carried out as part of placement, not at the application stage

Applicants from within the UK and European Economic Area

Convictions that are spent (as defined by the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974) are not considered to be relevant and you do not need to disclose them. If you are unsure whether a caution is relevant or spent, you should get advice from a solicitor, Citizens Advice Bureau, the Probation Service or Nacro, the crime reduction charity. If you seek advice from a solicitor you may have to pay for that advice.  

Note that offences attracting sentences of 30 months imprisonment or more are never spent and therefore must always be declared.

Applicants from outside the UK and European Economic Area

The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (the Act) is relevant to those of all nationalities and residencies, and the concept of “spent” convictions as set out in the Act applies regardless of the jurisdiction of the court where the offender was convicted. However, you should note the following:

  • Whilst a conviction acquired outside Great Britain may be spent under the relevant national law, it is not automatically deemed spent under English law. 
  • In determining whether a conviction is capable of becoming spent, a sentence imposed by a court outside of Great Britain will be treated in the same way as the corresponding sentence under English law, or its nearest equivalent.
  • Where a sentence is imposed by a court outside of Great Britain, the period before which the conviction is deemed spent will be calculated according to English law, as set out in the Act.

If you are unsure whether your conviction is deemed relevant and spent under English law then we strongly encourage you to seek legal advice before answering this question.

If you require a visa or you are extending your visa, then you must declare any unspent criminal convictions, including driving offences, when you apply to the UK Border Agency (UKBA). Please see sections 18 and 19 of the UKBA document 'Part 9 - General grounds for the refusal of entry clearance, leave to enter or variation of leave to enter or remain in the UK' for information regarding possible circumstances under which a visa application may be refused.

Data Protection

All records and correspondence relating to an applicant declaring a relevant criminal conviction will be securely stored in accordance with the University’s Data Protection Policy.

The only information relating to criminal convictions stored on the student system is your reply to the criminal conviction question on the application form. No other information relating to your conviction is stored on the student system. 

If you have declared a criminal conviction and your application is successful, all records and correspondence relating to your application and supporting materials will form part of your personal record and will be kept in the same way as all other student records. However, any information relating to your conviction will be stored separately and securely. A decision will be made, based upon your particular circumstances, and informed by the decision of the University’s Criminal Conviction Group, on who, if anyone, within the University should be provided with further details of your conviction. If your application is successful, you will be provided with further information on data retention in your particular case by the Head of Graduate Admissions. 

If you have declared a criminal conviction and your application is unsuccessful, any paper copies of information relating to your conviction which have been circulated will be shredded immediately. The Head of Graduate Admissions will keep an electronic copy of any information relating to your conviction as well as any documents received only on paper; this will be securely stored for a period of 6 months after the admissions cycle has ended, at which point all electronic and paper files will be deleted. See the University’s Data Protection Policy for more information.

Your consent will always be obtained before seeking further information about any declared convictions from third parties.