International university students criminal record checks

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As of May 2018, UCAS removed the requirement for applicants to declare unspent criminal convictions when applying through them for a place at UK universities, affecting applicants for September 2019 entry and beyond. However, universities are still entitled to look at candidate’s criminal background during the application process, whether as part of their institutional terms and conditions or as needed for the course itself, for instance if students are applying for courses where they might be working with children or vulnerable adults.

Accepting international students at your university widens the talent pool and increases diversity at your institution, which benefits all students. However, international students must be subject to the same application criteria as those from the UK in order to ensure that students have the correct skills and knowledge to complete the course and are suitable to study in an academic environment.

Universities must ensure that their staff and students are safe, but they also have a duty of care to ensure that they offer specific support to all students. Most universities will only look at convictions that are relevant to maintain safety on campus. Convictions relating to violence, sex offences, drugs offences, firearms, arson or terrorism are common convictions which would require further investigation.

Criminal records checks are important for all applicants to ensure a safe place of learning and working for staff and students, as well as to provide additional support to those who might need it. Carrying out international criminal records checks is necessary for any relevant application by students who have spent more than 12 months living outside the UK after the age of 18. However, international criminal records checking can be more complicated than domestic checks through the UK’s DBS service.

The process varies according to which country the applicant has spent time in, and different countries and territories have different procedures. Some international criminal records checks can be carried out online, others are paper based only. In addition, the time it takes to carry out criminality checking overseas can vary from instant to over six months, although it usually takes an average of 16 days. In some cases, universities will require students to provide a police report (and official translation) themselves, other institutions will carry out the checks as part of the application process.

A specialist background screening provider can advise on the most effective and efficient course of action for screening international student applications. Ensuring that the checks are carried out correctly and accurately is crucial in providing a safe and productive learning environment.