Do I need to disclose cautions, reprimands or final warnings when applying to university?

Do I need to disclose my conviction(s) when applying to university?

What does spent mean?

How long will it take for my criminal record to be spent?

What will happen if I make a criminal record declaration when applying to university?

Where can I get help with disclosing my criminal record to a university?

I have a criminal record. Can I still apply for a health and social care course?

I have a criminal record. Can I still apply for a nursing or midwifery course?

I have a criminal record. Can I still apply for a teaching course?

Do I need to disclose cautions, reprimands or final warnings when applying to university?

The UCAS application will ask you to disclose any unspent offences on your record. Simple cautions, reprimands and final warnings are spent immediately, which means that you will not need to declare them on the UCAS application form. Conditional cautions are spent after three months, so unless you have received one very recently, you will not need to declare these either.

If you are applying for certain courses that prepare you for certain professions, such as medicine, social care, nursing and teaching, you may need to disclose cautions, reprimands or final warnings that are not protected (i.e. eligible for filtering) to the university directly (not on the UCAS application form). This is because these courses are likely to require you to do a placement in a role that is eligible for a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check. The DBS certificate will disclose spent and unspent cautions, reprimands and final warnings that are not protected (i.e. eligible for filtering).

Do I need to disclose my conviction(s) when applying to university?

The UCAS application will ask you to disclose any unspent convictions. If your conviction is unspent, you must tick the yes box on the application form. It is a criminal offence to lie. You will not need to provide any additional information to UCAS about your conviction(s). UCAS will pass your application form to the universities that you have selected and they may contact you directly for more information.

If you are applying for certain courses that prepare you for certain professions, such as medicine, social care, nursing and teaching, you may need to disclose any spent convictions which are not protected (i.e. eligible for filtering) to the university directly (not on the UCAS application form). This is because these courses are likely to require you to do a placement in a role that is eligible for a DBS check. The DBS certificate will disclose spent and unspent convictions that are not protected (i.e. eligible for filtering).

What does spent mean?

Once a conviction, caution, reprimand or final warning becomes spent, it means that you do not need to disclose it when applying for most educational courses, most jobs, insurance or other purposes (e.g. applying for housing). It is against the law for a university to obtain information about your spent cautions or convictions unless you are applying for a course that will require you to do a placement in a role that is exempt from the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act (ROA) (e.g. certain placements in health and social care, or in schools).

How long will it take for my criminal record to be spent?

The length of time it will take for your criminal record to be spent will depend on:

  • The disposal or sentence you received
  • Your age at the time of conviction

If you know this information, you can find out how long it will take for your criminal record to be spent here.

The law can be quite complicated to understand, so if you are not sure about whether your criminal record is spent, you can contact Nacro’s Resettlement Advice Service for advice on 0300 123 1999 or helpline@nacro.org.uk.

What will happen if I make a criminal record declaration when applying to university?

Each university will have its own policies and procedures about how they manage criminal record disclosures. You can sometimes find these in the admissions policies that are available on the relevant university’s website. If you cannot find these online, you can request them directly from the university’s admissions department. This will help you to understand what to expect and how your information will be considered.

If you have declared a criminal record, it is likely that you will be contacted by the university’s admissions department and asked to provide more information. It is a good idea to have prepared a disclosure statement in advance of making your application, which you can submit to the university along with any good character references you have.

Some universities may ask you to attend a meeting to discuss your criminal record. This tends to be more commonplace if you have applied for a course that prepares you for a profession that is exempt from the ROA, as the university may need to establish your fitness to practice.
Once the university has more information, either from your disclosure statement or from any meetings they may ask you to attend, they will make a decision as to whether they feel you are suitable to be admitted to the course for which you have applied.

If the university decides to reject your application, they should provide their reasons in writing and may invite you to appeal. You can get further advice about making an appeal by contacting Nacro’s Resettlement Advice Service on 0300 123 1999 or helpline@nacro.org.uk.

Where can I get help with disclosing my criminal record to a university?

We have a guide on disclosing criminal records that you may find useful when disclosing your criminal record.

If you would like further advice about disclosing your criminal record to a university, please contact Nacro’s Resettlement Advice Service on 0300 123 1999 or helpline@nacro.org.uk.

I have a criminal record. Can I still apply for a health and social care course?

Yes. Having a criminal record does not mean that you cannot study or work with children or vulnerable groups in the health and social care sector.
Most health and social care courses will require a placement in a relevant setting. To do the placement, you will probably be asked to apply for a DBS certificate, which will disclose details of your spent and unspent convictions, cautions, final warnings and reprimands that are not protected (i.e. eligible for filtering).

Before you apply for your DBS certificate, it is a good idea to tell the university of any offences that will be disclosed on your certificate. This is best done in the form of a disclosure statement. Please see our guide on disclosing criminal records for advice about preparing a disclosure statement, or contact Nacro’s Resettlement Advice Service if you need some help.

The Health and Care Professions Council regulates many professions in the health and social care sector. You can find their guidance on how they assess criminal records upon registration here.

If you have been advised, either by a support worker or a university, that you cannot do a health or social care course or work with vulnerable groups because of your criminal record, please contact Nacro’s Resettlement Advice Service on 0300 123 1999 or helpline@nacro.org.uk.

I have a criminal record. Can I still apply for a nursing or midwifery course?

Yes. Having a criminal record does not mean that you cannot study or work in the nursing profession.

Most nursing and midwifery courses will require a placement in a relevant setting. To do the placement, you will probably be asked to apply for a DBS certificate, which will disclose details of your spent and unspent convictions, cautions, final warnings and reprimands that are not protected (i.e. eligible for filtering).

Before you apply for your DBS certificate, it is a good idea to tell the university of any offences that will be disclosed on your certificate. This is best done in the form of a disclosure statement. Please see our guide on disclosing criminal records for advice about preparing a disclosure statement, or contact Nacro’s Resettlement Advice Service if you need some help.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) regulates nurses and midwives and, upon qualifying, you will need to register with them. The NMC issued guidance to universities on assessing criminal record information in relation to the good character requirement. This guidance will help you to understand the approach you can expect to be taken if you make a criminal record declaration when applying for a nursing or midwifery course.
If you have been advised, either by a support worker or a university that you cannot do a nursing or midwifery course because of your criminal record, please contact Nacro’s Resettlement Advice Service on 0300 123 1999 or helpline@nacro.org.uk.

I have a criminal record. Can I still apply for a teaching course?

Yes. Having a criminal record does not mean that you cannot study or work with children in the education sector.

Most teaching courses will require a placement in a school or similar educational environment with children or young people under the age of 18. To do the placement, you will probably be asked to apply for a DBS certificate, which will disclose details of your spent and unspent convictions, cautions, final warnings and reprimands that are not protected (i.e. eligible for filtering).

Before you apply for your DBS certificate, it is a good idea to tell the university of any offences that will be disclosed on your certificate. This is best done in the form of a disclosure statement. Please see our guide on disclosing criminal records for advice about preparing a disclosure statement, or contact Nacro’s Resettlement Advice Service if you need some help.

If you have been advised, either by a support worker or a university that you cannot do a teaching course or work with young people because of your criminal record, please contact Nacro’s Resettlement Advice Service on 0300 123 1999 or helpline@nacro.org.uk.