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The Unlocking Potential toolkit for HEIs

We know from international research that overbroad convictions' policies deter talented students with convictions from applying as they fear rejection at the first hurdle. Moreover, blanket questions about applicants’ criminal records may fall foul of data protection laws. Inspired by similar projects in the US and UK, the Unlocking Potential Fair Admissions Toolkit aims to support HEIs in Ireland to develop a fair and inclusive admissions policy for people with convictions. Working with colleagues in other HEIs, our aim is to unlock the potential of students with convictions and ensure the transformative power of education is accessible to all.

 

If you would like to learn more about how HEIs can reform their admissions process and remove barriers to education for people with convictions you may find this toolkit useful. The toolkit includes a template fair admissions policy and set of principles for fair admissions which can help to structure HEI approaches to this area. Finally, the toolkit provides some information on collecting criminal records data for HEI admissions in Ireland.
 

 

5 Reasons to Rethink

Here are 5 reasons to rethink higher education admission policies and practices for people with convictions

1

There is no evidence that security-focussed convictions’ policies make HEI campuses safer. In fact, students with no prior criminal history background are more likely to commit crimes on campus. 

2

Assessment of risk is generally undertaken by the criminal justice system. It is not necessary or proportionate for HEIs to try to duplicate this role. 

3

We know from research that disclosure of a criminal conviction acts as a strong disincentive to applicants with convictions to progress to third level as they fear rejection at the first hurdle

4

Requiring all applicants to disclose convictions when applying to a HEI is not always relevant to their suitability to study a particular subject and may constitute a breach of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). 
People with convictions generally come from under-represented groups such as first-time mature entrants, people with disabilities, Irish Travellers, and further education and training award holders. A fair admissions policy is therefore key to ensuring equity of access to higher education and that the student body reflects the diversity of Irish society.

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