Our criminal convictions policy
To enable the University to discharge its safeguarding obligations to all members of our community, during our registration process we ask all new students to complete a criminal convictions declaration.
This declaration will only ask you about “relevant” unspent criminal convictions, but all new students are required to answer.
We also ask a similar question of students during our housing application process for those who want to live in University-managed accommodation.
What will happen and when?
We believe that an unspent criminal conviction should not automatically prevent you from studying at the University of Sussex. Consequently, we don’t ask about criminal convictions as part of the application process (except in the small number of professional courses in our School of Education and Social Work) and will assess your application on academic suitability (without reference to any previous convictions).
However, we have a duty of care to the whole University community and so we will ask you if you have any relevant, unspent convictions when you arrive at the University, as part of the registration process.
Certain criminal convictions may result in your registration being stopped or suspended, or conditions being imposed upon you to allow your registration to proceed.
Evaluation of your criminal convictions disclosure will be undertaken by the University’s Criminal Convictions Panel.
If you know during the admissions process that you will need to declare a relevant, unspent criminal conviction when you arrive to register, you should contact the University immediately after receiving your offer (and certainly before accepting it) to make a self-declaration. This will enable your case to be considered well in advance of registration so that you know what (if any) implications your conviction will have on your ability to register with Sussex.
If you are eligible to apply for a place in University-managed accommodation, we will also ask you about relevant, unspent criminal convictions during the housing application process. Certain criminal convictions may prevent or limit your access to University-managed housing.
What are relevant, unspent 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.
Where a conviction for an equivalent offence has been received outside England & Wales, the conviction from that other jurisdiction is also considered to be ‘relevant’ and must be disclosed if it is not ‘spent’.
Convictions that are ‘spent’ – as defined by the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (as amended) – 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.
How do I self-declare?
In your offer letter, you will be alerted to the fact that the University asks about relevant, unspent criminal convictions at registration and that, under our Terms and Conditions, you need to declare these.
If you have a relevant, unspent conviction then, after you receive your offer, you should email email@example.com and we will send you a self-declaration form to complete. You can provide us with details of your situation and this will then be considered by our Criminal Convictions Panel.
The Panel will write to you after it has considered your case in order to tell you of any implications that your conviction will have on your registration at Sussex.
You can then make an informed decision about whether to accept or decline our academic offer of a place.
Processing of your personal data will be carried out in accordance with our data protection policy.
What if my course has a Disclosing and Barring Service (DBS) check already?
Some of our courses in the School of Education and Social Work require all students to complete an enhanced Disclosing and Barring Service (DBS) check as a condition of entry.
For these courses (in Education or Social Work), our application process for those who are academically qualified includes a requirement for a full declaration of all criminal convictions, cautions, reprimands and warnings that are held on the Police National Computer and would appear in an enhanced Disclose and Barring Service (DBS) check.
If you look suitable based on your application, you’ll be sent a convictions declaration form, which must be completed and returned. As these courses work with children and vulnerable adults, the selection and interview process includes consideration of any convictions, cautions, reprimands and warnings.
Any recommendations for an offer will be considered by the Criminal Convictions Panel for approval. Any offer made will then be conditional on a satisfactory enhanced DBS check.
At registration, you would still be asked the same question about relevant, unspent criminal convictions as all other students (despite the separate DBS requirement).
Can I still apply for housing?
All applicants who are eligible to apply for University-managed accommodation under our housing guarantee will be sent details of our online housing application at the appropriate point in the admissions cycle.
You can apply for housing, but the housing application includes the same declaration about relevant, unspent criminal convictions. A positive response will need to be considered before we can proceed with any housing application and certain convictions may result in the University not being able to offer you accommodation (or there may be conditions placed on your access to University-managed housing).
What if I need to apply for a visa to study in the UK?
Regardless of the decision made by the University, if you are applying for a visa to study in the UK, you will be asked by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) if you have any criminal convictions (including traffic convictions) obtained in any country.
Any information provided will be considered by UKVI as part of your visa application and certain convictions can lead to a visa refusal.
This is entirely separate to the University’s own consideration of relevant, unspent criminal convictions.
What if I get a conviction before I start?
If you acquire a relevant, unspent criminal conviction at any stage after your offer, you should email firstname.lastname@example.org immediately in order to make a self-declaration which will be considered by the Criminal Convictions Panel.
If you have any questions, contact:
- Undergraduate Admissions – email@example.com or +44 1273 678416
- Postgraduate Admissions – firstname.lastname@example.org or +44 1273 877773.
Criminal Convictions Panel: terms of reference
A) To consider an applicant with a criminal conviction in terms of:
- i) The welfare of University staff and students, bearing in mind the nature of their conviction, University policy and relevant UCAS guidance,
- ii) The obligations of students.
And with a view to facilitating entry to Higher Education where possible;
B) To reach a decision on an applicant, recommended for an offer of a place, who is declaring a criminal conviction on whether the applicant should:
- i) Be admitted
- ii) Be admitted but stated conditions should be attached to the admission
- iii) Be refused admission.
C) To validate a proposal to refuse admission where a previous conviction would preclude an applicant from obtaining a professional placement;
D) To reach a decision on an applicant who acquires a criminal conviction, or for whom a conviction comes to light, between having been made an offer and registering, on whether the applicant should:
- i) Still be admitted
- ii) Be admitted but stated conditions should be attached to the admission
- iii) Have the offer of admission rescinded.
E) To consider the case of students who acquires a criminal conviction, or for whom a criminal conviction comes to light, during their studies at the University, and to decide:
- i) Where the student’s studies have been interrupted by a period of intermission whether to allow the student to resume their studies (with or without stated conditions);
- ii) Where the student’s studies have been interrupted, whether or not to permit continued registration (with or without stated conditions).
Where a student is on a social work course and acquires a criminal conviction, or for whom a conviction comes to light, the Termination of Training procedures take precedence. If termination is not enacted then any decision relating to the conviction should be validated by the Criminal Convictions Panel.
F) To liaise with the Student Discipline Committee where appropriate.
Composition of the panel is as follows:
- Chair appointed by the Vice-Chancellor
- Director for the Student Experience
- Head of University Housing Services
- Associate Director, Student Engagement
The following appointed by the Chair for a period of three years (renewable):
- One member from the Law Department with experience of admissions
- One member of either the Education or Social Work Departments
- One representative of the Trade Unions
- Two elected officers (full time) of the Students’ Union appointed by the President of the Students’ Union (usually the Welfare Officer and Society and Citizenship Officer)
- Chair of the Student Discipline Committee as an observer.