Disclosure Certificate for University Placements

Higher education is moving with the times. Gone are the days when students spent three or four years holed up in lecture theatres and libraries. The 21st century University experience is much more work-focused. Many students choose a “sandwich” course, which incorporates a year or term working with a local business. Others will go overseas to work or study. It’s something which Universities encourage. From a student’s point of view, working while studying gives precious work experience for a CV. But what happens with getting a disclosure certificate for a work placement?

Disclosure Certificates Needed for Courses

Some students will face the issue of disclosure certificates sooner than others. If you’re applying for a place on a course which leads to a specific occupation, these checks may happen on application. This rule mainly applies to people enrolling on degrees in subjects like teaching, physiotherapy, nursing or medicine. Students in these subjects are sent out into hospitals and classrooms at the early stages of their studies. Usually, getting a DBS check is an entry requirement. University admissions tutors on these courses are the experts in the DBS process as it applies to students, and can usually give very good advice and guidance. The good news is that the checks are just done once, at the start of studies.

Placements and Disclosure Certificates

Some students won’t need a DBS check at all to undertake an educational placement. This is because the law only requires a disclosure certificate for a minority of occupations. If your placement involves working in a laboratory, factory or office, chances are that a DBS is unnecessary. However, for other students there may be more confusion. For example, a computer science student who secures a summer placement building a new website for a nursery or private school will need a DBS check. Not because of the role they are doing, but because of the location in a school. Luckily, it’s not down to the student to work out whether or not to have a DBS check. It’s the employer’s job to get up to speed with regulated activity and working out what applies.

Disclosure Certificate Upon Entry

There is another group of students who might have to get a DBS certificate when they finally graduate and secure their dream job. For some professions, mostly in law or financial services, new entrants into the profession need a disclosure certificate when first registering. Without a certificate, you won’t be able to start work as a vet for example, or take a job in the courts system. Again, there is lots of information on the websites of the relevant professional organisations about the process for this.

DBS Check Issues for Students

There is no separate DBS check process just because you are a student, or a recent graduate. The same rules apply as for everyone else. However, there are some specific issues affecting students which it pays to be aware of. The main issue is address. The DBS check form, or their equivalents in Scotland and Northern Ireland, all ask for an address history going back 5 years. If you’re a final year student who has spent the last three or four years moving between your parents’ home, university accommodation and another address over the summer for work placements, this could run to several different addresses.

Read the form through to the end before you start filling it in. There is advice on unusual address histories online, so take a look at the guidance before you start. Rules do change over time though, so make sure the information you are looking at is current. If you’re still not sure about which addresses to give, contact the Disclosure and Barring Service for help. If you guess and get it wrong, the application will be rejected and you’ll lose the fee.

University Placements Overseas

If you’re lucky enough to be heading overseas for a University placement, then a different system applies. Disclosure certificates are only valid for work in the UK. If you’re going to work overseas, you might be asked for a Police Certificate, or a statement of good character. These are similar to a DBS certificate but organised through a separate body called ACRO. ACRO certificates are more expensive, so be very clear about what sort of certificate you need.