Declared criminal convictions | University of Oxford
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Declared criminal convictions

The University has determined that it will not admit students who may pose an unacceptable risk to students and staff. This is in accordance with the Higher Education sector and reflects the undergraduate admissions process, which is administered by University and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS).

The University therefore asks graduate applicants to disclose any relevant unspent criminal convictions on their application form so that any risk may be assessed. 

The academic assessment of an application will proceed without reference to any declared criminal conviction.

What has to be declared?

We ask you to declare 'any relevant unspent criminal convictions' on the application form.

'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) 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 declare a criminal conviction, this is assessed separately from the academic assessment of your applications by designated University and college staff members. The Graduate Admissions Office will identify applications where a criminal conviction has been declared and notify the relevant administrator in the academic department so that the Criminal Convictions Panel may consider disclosed convictions and conduct a risk assessment in accordance with the procedure set out below.

If you have declared a criminal conviction, the Director of Graduate Admissions may 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.  

Where the academic department wishes to invite you to a face-to-face interview, the Director of Graduate Admissions will conduct a risk assessment to determine whether any procedural safeguards should be put in place for the interview (for example, recommending that the interview take place remotely). 

Where the academic department wishes to make an offer, your application will follow the standard process, and will be passed for consideration to your preferred college or a college assigned using the standard process. The relevant college administrator will be informed that you have declared a criminal conviction. The academic assessment of your application by the college will take place separately from the consideration of your criminal conviction.  

Where the academic department wishes to make an offer, the Deputy Head of Student Fees and Funding will also be informed so that your application is considered for University scholarships as per standard processes. 

Criminal Conviction Panel

Details of the 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 consider, in light of the documentation gathered by the Director of Graduate Admissions, whether or not you are likely to pose an unacceptable risk of harm to any student or member of staff within the collegiate University if you were to take up an offer of a place. The CCP may reach this 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 your 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, 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 you or a third party;
  • To permit an offer to be made with no further conditions relating to the criminal conviction. In such cases the Director of Graduate Admissions will advise you accordingly;
  • To permit a conditional offer to be made, for example relating to pastoral issues such as support for you. In such cases the Director of Graduate Admissions will contact you to outline the conditions set by the CCP; 
  • To reject your application. In this case the Director of Graduate Admissions will contact you to inform you 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 you are offered a place, the CCP must determine who, if anyone, within the University should be provided with details of the conviction. The CCP must also determine who, if anyone, within the University will keep details of the conviction in the case where you become a registered student.

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 application is successful, 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. A decision will be made, based upon individual circumstances, and informed by the decision of the University’s Criminal Conviction Panel, on who, if anyone, within the University should be provided with further details of a conviction.

If a criminal conviction is declared and the application is unsuccessful, 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.

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