Here at uCheck, we get lots of enquiries about DBS Checks for universities. So we’ve put together a guide that explains the rules surrounding DBS checks for university staff, students and volunteers.
What are the different levels of DBS Check?
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of what DBS checks are relevant for universities, let’s first go through the different levels of DBS check available.
Basic: A Basic DBS Check will reveal any unspent convictions the applicant has. There are no eligibility requirements for a Basic Check – anyone aged 16 or over can have one.
Standard: A Standard DBS Check will reveal any spent or unspent convictions, cautions, reprimands or warnings the applicant has. To be eligible, the applicant’s role needs to be mentioned in the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) Order 1975 (ROA). This includes a range of professions including lawyers, accountants and veterinary surgeons.
Enhanced: An Enhanced DBS Check will reveal the same information as a Standard Check, as well as any relevant information held by local police.
To be eligible, the applicant’s role must be listed in both the ROA and the Police Act 1997 (Criminal Records) Regulations.
As a general rule, roles that involve unsupervised contact with children or vulnerable adults are likely to be eligible for an Enhanced Check. If the applicant will be engaging in regulated activity, they will also be eligible for a check of the relevant barred list.
Are university staff eligible for DBS Checks?
In general, university staff, such as lecturers, student advisors and wardens, are not eligible for Standard or Enhanced DBS Checks.
This is mainly due to the fact that students are not required to attend university by law, as opposed to the compulsory attendance of students in primary and secondary education.
Contact with university students does not justify a Standard or Enhanced DBS Check, so unless there is another aspect of a staff member’s job that entitles them to a higher-level check, they will not be eligible.
However, Basic DBS Checks are an option for universities who want to carry out criminal record checks on their staff. Basic Checks are available to all employees, providing an extra level of reassurance and trust in the people you’re hiring.
Are students eligible for DBS Checks in universities?
Students carrying out work placements may be eligible for Standard or Enhanced DBS Checks.
If a university student will be working in an establishment that requires a DBS Check, like a school, care home or hospital, then they may be eligible.
Likewise, if they will be performing a role that includes regulated activity with children and/or vulnerable adults then they’ll be eligible for an Enhanced DBS Check.
It’s essential to describe the student applicant’s role accurately on the DBS application form, as this is the only way the DBS can establish the reason the check is required.
Are university students eligible for volunteer DBS Checks?
We get lots of volunteer DBS applications from universities, but it’s important to remember that the DBS has a very specific definition of what counts as a volunteer.
Applicants will not be eligible for a volunteer DBS Check if they are:
- On a work placement
- On a course that requires them to do the role
- In a trainee position that will lead to a full-time role or qualification
For this reason, students are unlikely to be eligible for a volunteer DBS Check.
DBS Checks for universities: A summary
In the majority of cases, university staff will not be eligible for a Standard or Enhanced DBS Check. Instead, universities can carry out a Basic Check.
In the case of student placements, it’s important to make sure you describe the applicant’s role accurately when applying for a check. If you’re unsure what level of check (if any) a student is eligible for, see the DBS eligibility guidance.