Criminal convictions | University of Oxford
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Criminal convictions

Please note that in accordance with the University’s obligations towards students and staff, we will request information about relevant, unspent criminal convictions during the offer stage so that appropriate steps can be taken to facilitate effective support and/or assess whether a prospective student poses an unacceptable risk to students and staff.

The University has adopted a policy for any case where an applicant with an offer for a graduate place has a relevant, unspent criminal conviction which has either been declared by an applicant to the University or which has otherwise come to the University’s attention (such as where information is disclosed by a third party).

What has to be declared?

The University will only ask about relevant, unspent criminal convictions.

'Relevant' convictions are:

  • 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 Offences 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; and
  • offences listed in the Terrorism Act 2006.

Convictions that are 'spent' (as defined by the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974) or will be spent at the point of starting the course of study do not need to be declared. If you are uncertain as to whether your conviction is spent, please seek independent advice.

Programmes requiring Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks

There is a separate process that involves DBS checks for those applying for certain programmes, such as teaching, health or social-work related programmes. In these cases the process is managed by receiving academic departments and is separate from the criminal conviction process described here.

Process for handling cases of declared relevant convictions

If you have declared a criminal conviction, the Director of Graduate Admissions will contact you to seek further information on the conviction and to explain the procedure to you. It may also be necessary to approach third parties in order to request additional information (for example referees or your probation officer). Your permission will always be obtained before approaching such third parties.

Criminal Conviction Panel

Details of any relevant, unspent offence will be considered by a Criminal Conviction Panel (CCP), comprising the Director of Graduate Admissions, the Director of Student Welfare and Support Services, the UAB Director of Graduate Studies, and a representative from the accepting college, where applicable. In the event that an accepting college has not yet been determined, the chair of the Graduate Committee of the Conference of Colleges or their nominee will be invited to join the CCP. A representative of Legal Services will be available to provide advice to the CCP.

The CCP will assess, in light of the documentation gathered by the Director of Graduate Admissions, whether the declared conviction(s) is/are such that the applicant ought not to be admitted to the University or whether special measures ought to be put in place to facilitate effective support for the applicant and/or to protect other students and staff from perceived risk. The CCP may reach its decision at a meeting or teleconference.

The CCP will reach a decision on behalf of the University and will convey this decision to the academic department. It will also issue this decision as a recommendation to the accepting college. If the accepting college requires further information before accepting the recommendation of the CCP, the Director of Graduate Admissions will obtain the applicant's consent to share the documents available to the CCP with the accepting college.

Information on the criminal conviction will be gathered and a decision reached by the CCP as promptly as possible, to ensure that delays to the standard admissions process are minimised.

The following factors are among those that are likely to be taken into account by the CCP:

  • 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, the number of offences and whether each was a separate offence or part of a series of similar offences.

One of the following decisions will be made by the CCP:

  • To require further information from the applicant or a third party;
  • To confirm that the applicant has satisfied the criminal convictions condition with no further conditions relating to the criminal conviction. In such cases the Director of Graduate Admissions will advise the applicant accordingly;
  • To confirm that the applicant has satisfied the criminal convictions condition but that further measures are imposed on the offer-holder, for example specific support for the applicant, restrictions to accommodation or to activities not related to degree, etc. In such cases the Director of Graduate Admissions will contact the applicant to outline the additional conditions set by the CCP;
  • To withdraw the offer of a place. In this case the Director of Graduate Admissions will contact the applicant to inform them of the decision.

The reasons for the decision will be recorded by the Director of Graduate Admissions who will chair the CCP. In the event that the offer-holder becomes a registered student the CCP must determine who, if anyone, within the University and/or the college should be provided with details of the conviction in order to facilitate effective support for the applicant and/or to protect other students and staff from perceived risk.

Record retention

The Director of Graduate Admissions will keep a record of all cases dealt with in accordance with the University’s Data Protection policy. This record will ensure that any decision can be verified, to show that procedures have been correctly followed and to allow any feedback to the applicant if required. 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

If a criminal conviction is declared and the offer-holder becomes a registered student, all records and correspondence relating to the application and supporting materials will form part of the student's personal record and will be kept in the same way as all other student records. However, any information and correspondence relating to the applicant's conviction will be stored separately and securely.
If a criminal conviction is declared and the offer-holder does not become a registered student, all paper documents will be securely destroyed. The Director of Graduate Admissions will keep a copy of the information relating to the conviction and this will be securely stored for a period of one year 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.

Contact Details

If you are an applicant who has been asked to provide information about any relevant, unspent criminal convictions and you have any concerns or queries relating to process or whether the conviction is relevant, you can contact the Graduate Admissions Office confidentially at director.graduateadmissions@admin.ox.ac.uk.

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