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Birkbeck commits to fair admissions for past offenders

Birkbeck has signed the Fair Chance for Students with Convictions pledge and altered its admissions policies to help people with past criminal convictions access university education.

Birkbeck is one of ten trailblazing universities leading the way to help people with past criminal convictions to access higher education, by signing the Fair Chance for Students with Convictions pledge.

Simon Deville, Deputy Head of Student Services, said: “Birkbeck is committed to the rehabilitation of ex-offenders, and access to education plays a key role in making this happen. People with criminal convictions often face barriers to education and work long after they have served their sentence. This makes it harder for them to make positive changes in their lives, and increases the chance of reoffending. Ensuring people with past convictions can access higher education is in everyone’s interests.”

As part of this pledge, Birkbeck will no longer ask applicants whether they have a criminal conviction for the majority of programmes of study – which is in most cases irrelevant. Instead, applicants will be asked if they have either probationary conditions, or a court imposed Community Treatment Order (CTO). This is to ensure that the demands of study do not conflict with any probation conditions, such as a curfew, or restrictions on internet access; or in the case of a CTO, to assess whether someone is ready to study and if they pose any risk to themselves or others.

The pledge is part of an initiative conducted by Unlock, a charity for people with convictions, and supported by the UPP Foundation, a charity founded by University Partnerships Programme, the leading provider of on campus student accommodation infrastructure and support services in the UK. 

Christopher Stacey, Co-director at Unlock said: “Education creates opportunities, opens doors, and changes people’s lives. We are delighted to be working alongside the UPP Foundation and higher education institutions to help people with convictions access the life changing opportunities that higher education can offer.

“There are over 11 million people in the UK with a criminal record. These people have the potential to make positive and meaningful contributions to our society but are often denied this opportunity because of their past. We are delighted to see universities leading the way in removing the systemic barriers that face people with convictions and look forward to more universities signing the pledge and committing to fairer admission policies in the coming months.”

Richard Brabner, Director of The UPP Foundation said: “We are proud to be working alongside Unlock to help universities remove the barriers to higher education that are currently facing people with convictions. We recognise that this is a relatively new area for universities and are delighted to see a number of universities signing the pledge and boldly taking steps towards a fairer admission policy.

“Access and participation is more important than ever. Removing barriers for students with convictions and improving access to universities benefits both students, the tax payer and higher education institutions.”