Criminal convictions and Protecting Vulnerable Groups

The University of Stirling strives to create a safe and welcoming community for our students, staff and visitors. We are also committed to widening access and within this, recognise the important role that higher education has in the rehabilitation of offenders.

In order to facilitate a safe environment, protect the University community, and ensure the suitability of applicants for a course of study, the University collects and records relevant information on criminal convictions from applicants who have received an offer of admission to the University and from students.

This information is collected, used, and retained in line with the Criminal Convications Policy and Procedure.

We hope that the guidance provided in the following Frequently Asked Questions is helpful. If you would like any further guidance, please contact us using one of these points of contact:


Current students:

Can I apply if I have a criminal conviction, am under investigation by the police or have criminal proceedings pending?
Yes, you can apply to the University.

When will I be asked about any convictions?
If you have applied for a professional programme of study which involves regulated work with children and/or protected adults we will ask you at the same time that you apply.

If you have applied for any other programme, we will ask you about any relevant convictions at the point we make any offer of admission.

Beyond the admissions process, current students of the University are asked about relevant criminal convictions every year during online enrolment.

Outwith these points where the University asks applicants and students about criminal convictions, it remains the responsibility of students to advise the University of any relevant criminal convictions that are confirmed against them as soon as possible. Students should contact   

What convictions do I have to disclose?
Professional courses which involve regulated work with children and/or protected adults are exempt from the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 and therefore if you are applying for this type of course, you will be required to declare all spent and unspent convictions, sentences and cautions (including verbal) by a court.

For any other courses, applicants are required to disclose convictions which are unspent and relevant to the University. More information on the types of convictions that are relevant to the University is provided in the Criminal Convictions Policy and Procedure.

What is a spent conviction?
The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 classifies individuals as being rehabilitated after a specified time period, provided they do not receive any further convictions. The time period will depend on the sentence received and the UK country the conviction occurred in. Once the rehabilitation period has passed, convictions become ‘spent’ which means there is no longer a requirement for it to be disclosed to employers or other organisations. Some convictions are never considered to be spent. 

Nacro: Spent and unspent convictions – what are they?

When is a conviction unspent?
In Scotland, if the relevant rehabilitation period has not passed, a conviction is considered unspent. The length of this period depends on the sentence imposed. Convictions attracting custodial sentences of over 48 months imprisonment are never unspent. 

Nacro: Spent and unspent convictions – what are they?

Why do I need to complete a Protecting of Vulnerable Groups scheme membership application?
For professional course which involve regulated work with children and/or protected adults your chosen profession is exempt from the rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 and you will require to declare all spent and unspent convictions, sentences and cautions (including verbal) ordered by a court.

In addition, you will be required to complete and become a member of the Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) membership scheme. This helps make sure people whose behaviour makes them unsuitable to work with children and/or protected adults cannot apply to do regulated work with these vulnerable groups. When you apply for PVG membership Disclosure Scotland will carry out a criminal record check and share that with the University and you.

What if I am applying from outside the UK?
If you are applying from outside of the UK you are required to engage with the University’s arrangements regarding criminal convictions in the same way as other applicants, and your information is considered in the same way as that of a UK resident. Additionally, for applicants who live outside of the UK or who have been resident outside the UK in the previous five years, evidence of a current criminal record check is also required from the applicant’s home country/overseas country of residence along with a Certificate of Good Conduct or Police Certification.

Who will see information on my criminal conviction?
Information provided by applicants/students is held securely on the University’s systems and access is strictly limited to members of staff who are required to see it. The information provided, and other information relevant to the considerations undertaken by the University of any convictions declared, will be retained in line with specified data retention timelines and where information is not to be retained permanently it will be securely destroyed.

Information is collected, processed and retained by the University in line with the University of Stirling Privacy Notices for Applicants, Students and the General Data Protection Regulation (UK GDPR) / the Data Protection Act 2018. Find out more about the University’s privacy notices.

How will information on my convictions be considered?
Criminal convictions information is only used to inform considerations and make decisions about admission to the University and/or action required as appropriate through the Fitness to Practise or student disciplinary procedures, and the University will only ask for the information necessary for these purposes.

What decisions about my criminal convictions can be taken in relation to my application?
Within the admissions process, the outcome of a consideration of declared criminal convictions will be one of the following decisions:

  • Additional information is required from the applicant or a third party before a substantive decision can be made.
  • The applicant is suitable to join the University community / the profession.
  • The applicant is suitable to join the University community / the profession but only with certain conditions or restrictions.
  • The applicant is unsuitable to join the University community / the profession.

Where it is decided that an applicant is unsuitable to join the University community or be a member of the relevant profession, Admissions and Access will withdraw the application or offer of a place and the applicant will not be entitled to enrol as a student of the University.

Can I appeal a decision made regarding my criminal convictions in relation to my application?
Applicants can appeal against a decision only if there is significant additional information, which for good reason was not made available at the time of the decision and is directly relevant to the decision. Any such appeal should be prepared in writing and directed to

I did not have a conviction at the time I was made an offer for admission; do I need to tell you about a new conviction?
Yes. If you have not yet enrolled as a student of the University, you should inform the Admissions and Access team by contacting with full details.

I am a current student do I need to tell you about a new conviction?
Yes if you are an enrolled student you should inform the Academic Registry team by contacting  with full details. Relevant unspent convictions held by enrolled students are considered in line with the University’s student disciplinary procedure – Ordinance 2, the Code of Student Discipline.

What happens if I fail to declare a criminal conviction to the University?
If you fail to disclose a criminal conviction the University reserves the right to withdraw your application and/or any offer of admission that has been made to you.

If you are an enrolled student, you may be subject to action under Ordinance 2, the Code of Student Discipline (the University’s student disciplinary process).

More information and advice

A range of information can also be obtained via these organisations:

Disclosure Scotland -

Citizens Advice Scotland

Nacro: Applying for university and schools