Applicants with criminal convictions
Having a criminal conviction doesn't need to stop you from studying at the University of Edinburgh.
We understand how powerful education can be in transforming lives, and we believe that having an unspent criminal conviction should not be an automatic barrier to studying at the University.
All applicants are assessed on the basis of their academic suitability for study.
Declaring a conviction
We will not ask you to disclose any criminal convictions when you apply to study with us, unless your chosen degree requires membership of the Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) scheme. These degrees include nursing, social work, teaching or medicine.
We work closely with the police and the criminal justice social work team, and will take their advice on admissions conditions when it is relevant.
Talk to us in confidence
If you have an unspent conviction and are on license then we strongly encourage you to get in touch with us before you arrive in Edinburgh.
This will help us to understand the conditions of your license and work with you to ensure it will not stop you from finishing your degree.
You can contact our Head of Admissions for a confidential conversation about studying with a conviction.
Support available to you
We can offer a range of support when you join us, if you think this would be helpful.
We can provide you with a mentor so that you have someone to talk to who knows about your background since this information will not be shared more widely.
We also offer student counselling and our Student Disability Service can help students with a wide range of conditions.
Studying with a conviction
Many of our students will choose to study abroad for part of their degree, through our extensive international exchange programmes.
You should be aware that having a criminal conviction may result in visa restrictions being imposed on travel to some countries, and this may limit the study abroad options available to you.
You can find more information about travel abroad for people with convictions on The Information Hub.
Our students have many opportunities to take up paid and voluntary work while they are studying at the University.
Some employers need all participants to have PVG Scheme membership before they can work, and this may limit the options available to students with particular convictions.
We will do all we can to ensure that students with convictions are not disadvantaged, but depending on your conviction, it may not be possible for you to do exactly the placements you would like.
Although your conviction should not prevent you from studying with us, it is important that you are aware that a conviction could have an impact on your ability to work in certain professions after graduation, depending on the nature of the offence.
Law, social work, education, healthcare and finance are examples of professions where some kinds of criminal conviction may affect job opportunities.
However, there are many careers within these sectors and where your conviction may impact on your ability to work in one role, it may not impact on another role within the same sector.
Contact the relevant regulatory body
For more information on the possible impact of your conviction on your ability to work in a particular role, you should speak to the relevant regulatory body.
If you need assistance in contacting the correct body, the University can provide contact information.
We offer a number of degrees which lead to professions working with children or protected adults, and which are exempt from the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974.
Degrees which require PVG scheme membership:
MClinDent (dentistry programmes)
Oral Health Sciences
Teacher Education (including Primary Education with Gaelic; Physical Education; all PGDE subjects and MSc Transformative Learning and Teaching)
If you apply for any of these degrees you will be asked to disclose on your application if you have any criminal convictions, and whether they are spent or unspent.
Assessing your application
If we have assessed your application and believe you are academically eligible for an offer, we will need to ask you for more information about your conviction.
Once we have considered this information, if we believe the conviction may be relevant, we will ask you to apply for PVG Scheme membership (or an updated Disclosure if you already have a membership).
Student Disclosure Assessment Panel
We may ask a Student Disclosure Assessment Panel to consider whether your conviction is likely to limit the placements we can source for you, or otherwise affect your ability to complete all the requirements of your degree.
The Panel will also consider fitness to practice guidance for the profession, and whether your conviction might impact on your chances of registration with the relevant professional body at the end of your degree.
Where possible, we will make an offer for you to study on your chosen degree programme. We will then work with you to support you during the time you are studying with us.
However, we will tell you if we believe that you won't be able to complete the programme or achieve professional registration because of the nature of your conviction. If possible, we will offer you a place on an alternative degree which does not require PVG Scheme membership.