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

What does filtering mean?

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

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?

UCAS will only ask students who apply for certain courses – for example, those that involve work with children and vulnerable adults, such as medicine, teaching, or social work – to declare whether they have any criminal convictions, cautions, reprimands and final warnings which will including spent convictions that are not protected i.e. eligible for filtering from a DBS certificate.

What does filtering mean?

On 29 May 2013, changes made to legislation allowed for certain minor offences to be removed or “filtered” from standard and enhanced certificates. Offences that are eligible to be filtered no longer need to be disclosed by the applicant for jobs or courses that require standard or enhanced DBS checks. These offences will not be recorded on DBS certificates.

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

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).

A conviction becomes eligible for filtering if it ticks all of the following conditions;

  • 11 years must have elapsed since the date of conviction for an adult and five and the half years for a juvenile.
  • It is the person’s only conviction
  • The conviction did not result to a custodial or suspended sentence
  • The conviction does not appear on the list of specified offences

An adult caution will be removed after six years have elapsed since the date of the caution and if it does not appear on the list of specified offences.  There is no limit to the number of cautions that can be filtered.

A youth caution, reprimand or final warning will be eligible for filtering after two years have elapsed since the date it was issued and it is not on the list of specified offences.

The law can be quite complicated to understand, so if you are not sure about whether your criminal record will be filtered, 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.