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Davina – “I was accepted onto a nursing course despite my conviction”

Davina contacted our helpline as she needed some advice around an application to university.

She was applying for a nursing course which would require an enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service check but she was unsure whether her conviction for common assault from 2015 would be disclosed on her DBS certificate.

We explained to Davina that currently her conviction for common assault would show up on her enhanced check (as it would not be eligible to be removed through a technical process known as ‘filtering’ as she’d only received it four years ago; but it wouldn’t show up 11 years after the conviction).

We encouraged her to apply for the course and reassured her that once she’d disclosed her conviction the university should carry out a risk assessment. Having a conviction didn’t mean that she would automatically be refused entry to the course.

We referred Davina to our information hub page on self-disclosure statements (often referred to as a disclosure letter), suggesting that some people found it easier to use this as a prompt when disclosing their convictions. It also meant that the university would have a written record of her disclosure.

Davina contacted us again several months later to let us know that she’d been offered a place on the nursing course. She said:

“After I disclosed my conviction, the university carried out a thorough risk assessment. They told me that my conviction was not relevant to the course and I didn’t pose any risk to patients or other students. I’m so pleased that Unlock encouraged me to continue with my application.”


Many people who contact our helpline believe their convictions will stop them being accepted onto university courses, particularly courses which lead to work in regulated activity (nursing, teaching etc) and which can be quite risk averse.

This case demonstrates that many universities conduct thorough risk assessments but, where an applicant can demonstrate that their conviction isn’t relevant to the course and they don’t pose a risk to the university or any one they come into contact with, they will often be offered a place.


Notes about this case study

This case study relates to Unlock’s helpline.

Names and details have been changed to protect the identity of those involved.

Published September 2019

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