Letting us know about criminal charges and convictions

Letting us know about criminal charges and convictions

This page gives you information on how to tell the university about any criminal charges or convictions you have and how the University will manage this information and what can happen next. 

Having a criminal conviction or charge does not always prevent you from studying at the University of Aberdeen.

All members of the University community are expected to adhere to certain expectations of behaviour which, for our students, are outlined in our Code of Practice on Student Discipline (non-academic). Where a student, or someone holding an offer of study with us, has a criminal conviction or charge which may impact our ability to maintain the safety of our university community, we ask that this person declare their relevant convictions or charges to us for us to consider. 

This disclosure process differs for those people wishing to study courses which require working with vulnerable groups, such as children or protected adults who are required to undergo an enhanced disclosure known as a Protection of Vulnerable Groups (PVG) check. Applicants for such courses will be asked to disclose relevant criminal convictions as part of their UCAS application process. For more information on this process, see the ‘Degree programmes which require a PVG check’ section below.

Those who have applied for a course with us which does not require a PVG check will not be asked to disclose any charges or convictions at the point of application. They will instead be asked to disclose their relevant criminal convictions and charges after receiving an offer of admission.

With the exception of degree programmes which require disclosure of relevant criminal convictions as part of the initial UCAS application, we ask offer holders to get in touch with us before they arrive in Aberdeen to discuss their relevant convictions or charges, including if they are on license, so that we can review this as early as possible. This may, in some cases, help us limit the impact these charges or convictions have on their studies with us.      

Why do we ask about criminal convictions and charges?

We take our duty to manage potential risk and to protect all members of our University community seriously. We strive to maintain a safe, secure, and welcoming environment within our student accommodation, social, study and teaching spaces and throughout our campuses. We ask all offer holders and students to declare their relevant criminal convictions and charges as it allows us to provide support and advice to them about how their conviction or charge may impact their studies. Doing so also allows us to complete a risk assessment process to explore potential risks of any harm coming to members of the community and consider options to minimise these.

Additionally, certain sentences, convictions, charges, and probation agreements can place restrictions on a student’s ability to fully engage with their course. It is important to explore these possibilities prior to registration so that we can give you advice about your ability to study with us effectively. Telling us about your relevant convictions will allow us to identify where this is the case and gives us an opportunity to implement solutions, where possible.

In some cases it may not be possible to commence, or continue, your studies while you still have a charge or conviction which is not regarded as "spent".This will be discussed with you and will form part of the risk assesment process. 

Who needs to tell us about their criminal convictions and charges?


Applicants or prospective applicants who have not yet received an offer of admission are still encouraged to get in touch to discuss how your relevant conviction or charge might impact your studies with us. There is no expectation that criminal convictions or charges be disclosed as part of the initial application process but if you choose to do so prior to or during the application stage this information will be considered separately from your application.

Offer Holders

All offer holders, regardless of their programme of study, are required to declare relevant convictions whether that be at the UCAS application stage (for PVG-required courses) or directly to the University upon receiving an offer of admission. We define what relevant convictions are below.

Registered Students

The University requires all students to disclose any relevant charges or convictions as they arise throughout their period of registration as a student with us. Students are given the opportunity to declare every year as they register for a programme but should proactively get in touch with us if they receive a relevant charge or conviction for an offence during their studies.

Degree programmes which require a PVG check

Programmes which require students to work with vulnerable groups such as children and protected adults are exempt from the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974. This means that if you are applying to study certain programmes you will be asked to disclose both ‘spent’ and ‘unspent’ criminal convictions at the initial point of application. Degree programmes that require this level of disclosure will need offer holders to obtain a PVG check through Disclosure Scotland before they can be admitted. If this is the case the offer holder will be advised by the admissions team about how to obtain this.

In addition to gaining membership into the PVG scheme, some programmes will require students to abide by the regulations of specific regulatory bodies (e.g., General Medical Council, General Dental Council, General Teaching Council for Scotland). Where this applies the offer-holder will be informed by their school at the appropriate point throughout the admissions process.

If students on this kind of programme gain a criminal conviction while at University, this will be flagged on a PVG update. However, we still ask that these students disclose any new relevant convictions or charges to the University so that any processes that need to take place under the Code of Practice on Student Discipline (non-academic) can be instigated.

The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 is the main piece of legislation that covers how convictions should be considered by organisations.

What are ‘spent’ and ‘unspent’ convictions?

Spent Convictions

Following a certain period, dependent on the nature of the conviction and length of sentence, certain convictions can become ‘spent’ under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 meaning that the individual is considered rehabilitated. This means that the individual has completed the required period of sentencing following a conviction and that this conviction is no longer deemed to be relevant.

Unspent Convictions

‘Unspent’ convictions refer to convictions whereby the designated rehabilitation period for the sentence has not yet been completed or to a conviction which can never be deemed spent due to the severity of the offence and/or length of sentence given.

If you are unsure about whether your conviction can be regarded as spent or unspent, please refer to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 for more information and seek independent legal advice.

What charges and convictions are relevant?

We need you to tell us about the following types of offences if you are charged with them and/or convicted of them by a court.

Relevant offences include those with sentences which are imposed by a court of law and fall into one of the following categories:

  • 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 Sexual Offences Act 2003 or the Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009 or the Abusive Behaviour and Sexual Harm (Scotland) Act 2016.
  • The unlawful supply of controlled drugs or substances where the conviction concerns drug dealing or trafficking.
  • Offences as defined by the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018.
  • Offences as defined by the Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Act 2021.
  • Offences involving firearms or arson.
  • Offences listed in Schedule 1 to the Protection of Vulnerable Groups (Scotland) Act 2007.
  • Offences listed in the Terrorism Act 2006.
  • Offences involving human trafficking, slavery, and forced labour.
  • Offences involving crossbows, knives, and other weapons.
  • Offences involving fraud or embezzlement.

Any conviction involving an offence like those set out above, made by a court outside the UK which would not be considered as spent under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 is relevant and should be disclosed.

The legislation above may change over time, and you should read this page as referencing any new legislation that replaces any act outlined above.

What convictions are not relevant?

You do not need to tell us about the following types of offence:

  • Warnings issued by Police or law enforcement.
  • Drug offences which only involve possession of controlled drugs/substances which did not result in a custodial sentence.
  • Penalty Notice for Disorder (PND), Anti-Social Behaviour Order (ASBO), (Unless the applicant has contested or breached the terms of an ASBO, and this has resulted in a criminal conviction)
  • Speeding offences.
  • Offences for which the penalty was a non-custodial sentence carrying a fine of less than £1000.
The Disclosure Process

We encourage all offer holders and students to engage with us in an open dialogue about any situations they find themselves in which may result in a relevant criminal conviction or charge so that we can offer support and advice. The starting point for most disclosures is a conversation with either a member of the Student Recruitment and Admissions Team or a member of the Student Support Management Team. This conversation aims to establish the nature of a relevant charge or conviction and critically, its potential impact on the wider community at Aberdeen.

Any law enforcement or probationary service that wishes to inform the University about an individual and their criminal charge or conviction can do so by emailing studentconduct@abdn.ac.uk.

When and how to disclose relevant convictions and charges

Offer holders and registered students should bring any relevant charge/convictions they have to the attention of university as soon as they become aware of them. This is to ensure we can offer them support and appropriately assess risk. Failure to report a relevant charge/conviction in a timely manner may be considered as misconduct under our Code of Practice on Student Discipline (non-academic).

Use the appropriate email address to disclose relevant convictions and charges:


Applicant queries and Offer Holder disclosures

Registered Students

Contact Email Address



Disclosures made through this email address are reviewed by the Deputy Head of UK Recruitment and Admissions.



Disclosures made through this email address are reviewed by Student Support Management Team.

The Review Process

It is possible that after having an initial discussion with the relevant team, a decision may be taken to amend an offer of admission or, for registered students, to start an investigation under our Code of Practice on Student Discipline (non-academic).

Where the University decides that a declared relevant charge or conviction by a registered student could represent a breach of the Code of Practice on Student Discipline (non-academic), staff will carry out a risk assessment to determine whether the University needs to implement risk mitigating measures and what those measures should be.

The risk assessment process also involves considering what support the University should provide either to the student who has made the disclosure, or any other members of the University community who might be affected.

What are the potential outcomes of the review process?

There are several potential outcomes to the review:

  • We may admit the individual without any adjustments.
  • We may put specific support arrangements in place to aid the individuals transition into the university community.
  • We may put restrictions on the individual’s right to engage in certain activities within the University. This might involve restricted access to University activities and facilities.
  • In rare circumstances, when we determine that the individual’s presence within the University community would be incompatible with our commitment to maintaining a safe and secure environment for all members of the university community, we may have to withdraw an offer of admission. This outcome will occur when our risk assessment process has identified that an individual possesses a significant risk to the wider University community.
  • For registered students, we can instigate an investigation under our Code of Practice on Student Discipline (non-academic).
Further Advice and Support

We encourage offer holders and registered students with relevant criminal convictions and/or pending charges to get in touch as soon as possible using the details below so that we can provide advice and assistance.

For Offer Holders:

Student Recruitment and Admissions Service:

Email: confidential.disclosure@abdn.ac.uk

For Registered Students:

Student Support:

Email: student.support@abdn.ac.uk

Tel: (01224) 273935

TO DISCLOSE: conduct@abdn.ac.uk