This policy relates to applicants to all Pontifical University courses.
PONTIFICAL UNIVERSITY, ST PATRICK'S COLLEGE, MAYNOOTH,
POLICY STATEMENT ON APPLICANTS WITH CRIMINAL CONVICTIONS
1. Pontifical University, Maynooth (the “University”) actively promotes equality
of opportunity and is keen to encourage a diverse student population with a wide range of
talents, backgrounds and experiences. Having a criminal conviction will not necessarily
prevent an applicant from gaining admission to the University. However, the University
will take any relevant criminal convictions of a prospective applicant into account when
considering applications for admission, and reserves the right to refuse to admit an
applicant where his/her previous criminal conviction makes it inappropriate for him/her
to be admitted.
A relevant criminal conviction (“Relevant Conviction”) is:
a. any conviction in Ireland or abroad for an offence against the person, whether of a
violent or sexual nature (whether or not a custodial sentence was imposed in respect of
such conviction); or
b. any conviction in Ireland or abroad for an offence involving unlawfully supplying
controlled drugs or substances where the conviction concerns commercial drug dealing or
trafficking (whether or not a custodial sentence was imposed in respect of such
For the avoidance of doubt, a conviction or finding of guilt to which section 258 of the
Children Act, 2001 applies is not considered to be a Relevant Conviction.
2. In reaching a decision regarding the admission of an applicant with a Relevant
Conviction, the University will balance the interests of the applicant (and its ability to
provide any appropriate support arrangements) with its responsibilities to provide a safe
and secure environment for its staff, students, visitors and others. In addition, the
University may take into account the demands of various professional bodies and
requirements under the law to protect special categories of people, for example children
and vulnerable adults.
3. The Master’s Degree in Theology (specialising in Pastoral Theology), requires
students to undertake placements that could bring them into contact with children or
vulnerable adults and in which they will assume positions of trust. Having regard to the
protection of the public, the University is committed to ensuring that only suitable
candidates are allowed to undertake this programme.2
The University uses the Garda Central Vetting Unit (GCVU) vetting service to assess the
suitability of such applicants, and in some cases, may also require applicants to provide
an enhanced disclosure by the completion of an affidavit. Therefore, offers on these
programmes are conditional and could subsequently be withdrawn if applicants do not
meet the Garda Vetting requirements of the University.
4. The University will take any Relevant Conviction of a prospective applicant into
account when considering applications for admission to any course, and reserves the right
to refuse to admit an applicant where his/her previous criminal conviction makes it
inappropriate for him/her to be admitted.
All applicants, including those applying to the University through the Central
Applications Office (CAO) and those applying directly to the University for postgraduate
programmes, are required to disclose any Relevant Conviction when applying for
admission to the University. If information relating to offences is not given or is given in
incomplete form, then the University reserves the right at any stage (including after an
offer of a place has been made, or after registration) to reject the application. Applicants
also agree where required to submit to additional criminal record checks.
5. The University requests that any information on offences, or any disclosure
documents, be sent under separate, confidential cover, to the Admissions Officer,
Pontifical University, St Patrick’s College, Maynooth, Co. Kildare. We assure applicants
that this information will be only used for the purposes of processing their applications
and will only be seen by those who need to consider it as part of our admissions process
and that it will not be retained longer than is necessary for the purposes of admission.
Applicants are also entitled to access their personal data and to have any inaccurate,
incomplete or misleading data amended or erased. Applicants for undergraduate study
should note that the information should be submitted as early as possible, but no later
than May 1st.
6. The University may require the applicant to provide information from other third
parties who may have a view on the above matters. The parties may include probation
officers and others who are professionally or personally involved in the rehabilitation of
or familiar with the applicant.
7. Where a Relevant Conviction has been disclosed to the University by an
applicant in the admissions process, the Relevant Conviction will be reviewed by the
Registrar and the Admissions Officer as part of the admissions process. In many cases,
the Registrar and the Admissions Officer may go on to seek further background
information on circumstances surrounding the Relevant Conviction. In particular they
may consider any or all of the following:
• whether the Relevant Conviction or other matter revealed is relevant to the
programme on offer (including any secondments or placements);
• the seriousness of any offences;
• the number of any offences;
• the time elapsed since the offences;
• whether the offences show a pattern of behaviour that seems to be recurrent and
• whether the offences involve violence or threats of violence;
• whether the circumstances surrounding the offences were unique;
• whether the applicant's circumstances have now changed; and
• what evidence the applicant produces to support the view that the applicant is
unlikely to offend again.
The University may also have regard to any representations made by or on behalf of the
applicant in relation to the application.
8. Where an applicant has declared or disclosed a Relevant Conviction to us the
applicant’s case will, as stated above, be considered initially by the Admissions Officer
and the Registrar. If the applicant’s case is straightforward, it may be decided at that
stage that an offer will not be refused because of the Relevant Conviction.
The Registrar may decide that an offer of a place will not be refused because of the
Relevant Conviction, or may refer the application to an Ad Hoc Committee on the
Admission of Students with Criminal Convictions. A decision to refuse an application
for admission or to attach conditions to an offer of a place because of a Relevant
Conviction can only be taken by the Ad Hoc Committee. The Ad Hoc Committee shall
consider the application and the evidence received in relation to it. It shall have regard
to any representations made by or on behalf of the applicant and may make such inquiries
as it sees fit. It shall notify the applicant of the outcome of its deliberations as soon as
practicable. Such notification shall always be in writing. If admission has been refused
because of a Relevant Conviction, then the notification will give the reasons why. If
admission has been approved subject to conditions, then on accepting an offer of a place,
the applicant will be deemed to have accepted such conditions.
Any of the Registrar or the Ad Hoc Committee may consult with the Head of Security
and the Director of Student Services as to whether, having regard to the Relevant
Conviction, if an offer of a place was to be made, any conditions should be attached to an
offer of a place. Depending on the nature of the conditions being considered, it may be
necessary to consult with other University staff members. As set out above, a decision to
attach such conditions can only be taken by the Ad Hoc Committee.
9. An applicant has the right to appeal any decision of the Ad Hoc Committee to
the Deputy President. Appeals must be registered by writing to the Deputy President
within 14 days of receiving written notice of the outcome of a hearing.
10. If a student obtains a Relevant Conviction after admission then the matter shall
be dealt with under the procedures set out in the Code of Discipline for Students. Factors
mentioned under paragraph 7 above may again be considered.
Indicative Ad Hoc Committee:
Director of Postgraduate Studies (for applications to postgraduate programmes)
Head of Security
Director of Student Services
Pontifical University, St Patrick’s College, Maynooth procedure for Garda
Vetting (Under review)
The Master’s Degree in Theology (specialising in Pastoral Theology) programme,
offered by the Pontifical University, St Patrick’s College, Maynooth requires students to
undertake placements, with external agencies, which will bring them into contact with the
public and in which they will assume positions of trust. To ensure the protection of the
public, and justify public trust and confidence, the University is committed to ensuring
that only suitable candidates are allowed to undertake this programme.
St Patrick’s College, Maynooth uses the Garda Central Vetting Unit (GCVU) vetting
service to assess the suitability of such applicants, and may also require applicants to
provide an Enhanced Disclosure by the completion of an affidavit at the time of
St Patrick’s College, Maynooth requires students to be Garda Vetted before they fully
complete their registration as a student of the University.
Garda Vetting Process
The following sections describe the details of the various stages that are involved in the
Garda Vetting process.
Completion of student section of form.
Applicants who have been provisionally offered, and have accepted, a place on the
programme are sent a Garda Vetting Form and the instructions for completion of the
form. This documentation highlights for students the importance of full disclosure.
Where an applicant is under 18 years of age, they must arrange the completion of an
additional form ‘Garda Vetting Parent/Guardian Consent Form’.
Students complete provisional registration during first year registration process. They
acknowledge at registration that their registration process is not complete until they
have satisfied Garda Vetting requirements for the programme.
Completion of Admissions Office section of form.
Students return their completed confidential form to the Pastoral Theology Director for
checking. The Director completes a batch summary sheet which is then forwarded to the
Authorised Signatory in the NUIM Admissions Office, along with the Garda Vetting
application form(s). Once the Authorised Signatory is satisfied that all sections of the
form are duly completed, the form is signed. Then, in line with the requirements of the
GCVU, the batch summary form and the forms are forwarded to the GCVU in Thurles.
Completion of Garda Central Vetting Unit section of the form.
The GCVU responds to the vetting request by ticking and signing one of the relevant
sections of the form. The form and any attached documentation are returned in
confidence to the Authorised Signatory.
Confirmation of GCVU response by Authorised Signatory.
Where the information supplied by the GCVU is inconsistent with the response from the
student the Authorised Signatory will meet with the student to clarify if the information
supplied by the GCVU is correct. If the student does not agree that the information
supplied by the GCVU is correct, the Authorised Signatory will request the GCVU to
review their information and confirm or change their initial response.
Evaluation of information.
Once the information has been confirmed, it is then reviewed by the Registrar, Director
of Pastoral Theology and Authorised Signatory and classified as follows: · No previous 6
convictions recorded · Minor Offence · Serious Offence · Very Serious Offence.
Thereafter the information will be dealt with by the University as outlined in Stage 7.
University Response to information provided by GCVU
(a) No previous convictions recorded
The names of all students where no previous convictions have been recorded are
indicated to the Pastoral Theology Director. Then the Director sends a copy of this
information to the student and to the placement agency if a request is received from them.
If a conviction is recorded, or is pending, the Authorised Signatory meets with the
Director to consider the convictions.
(b) Minor Offence
With regard to minor offences, i.e. offences which, within the absolute discretion of the
University, are not considered to pose any risk to children or vulnerable adults, the
University response is different depending on whether or not the student openly disclosed
(i) If the offence has been disclosed, the Director of the programme will notify the
student, and the placement agency if a request is received from them. The full
information will be provided to the placement agency if a request is received from them.
(ii) If the offence has not been disclosed the Authorised Signatory will meet with the
student to seek an explanation for the non-disclosure.
If a satisfactory explanation is received the information will be provided to the placement
agency by the Programme Director, and to the student. If a satisfactory explanation is not
received the offence will be deemed to be a serious offence and will be dealt with as for
section (c) (ii) below.
(c) Serious Offence
With regard to serious offences, i.e. offences, the nature of which could potentially
indicate a risk to children or vulnerable adults, the university response will be different
depending on whether or not the student openly disclosed the offence.
(iii) If the offence has been disclosed the Authorised Signatory, Programme Director and
Registrar will meet with the student to discuss the circumstances of the offence:
If there has been evidence of significant rehabilitation and/or evidence of appropriate
behaviour modification by the student since the event took place, then the student will be
advised that he/she will be allowed to continue in the programme and that all placement
agencies, whether or not they request the information, will be advised of the offence.7
If there is no evidence of significant rehabilitation and/or evidence of appropriate
behaviour modification by the student, the student will be advised that their offence is
being treated as a very serious offence and the procedure outlined in section (d) below
will be followed.
(iv) If the offence has not been disclosed the Programme Director and the Authorised
Signatory will meet with the student. Other than in very exceptional circumstances, the
student will be advised that their offence is being treated as a very serious offence and the
procedure outlined in section (d) below will be followed.
(d) Very Serious Offence
With regard to very serious offences, i.e. offences, the nature of which could
potentially indicate a serious risk to children and vulnerable adults or other members
of the public, the student will be required to meet with the Authorised Signatory,
Programme Director and Registrar and advised that owing to the nature of their
conviction(s) they cannot continue in that programme of study.
Following the meeting the student will be advised in writing of the University’s
decision. The student may, within two weeks of the date of the letter, make an appeal
to the Registrar to have his/her case reviewed by an Appeal Committee on Garda
Vetting comprising of the Registrar and two members of the Faculty, duly appointed.
Students who have satisfactorily completed Garda Vetting (and any other
requirements of the registration process) will be deemed to be fully registered as
students of the Pontifical University, St Patrick’s College, Maynooth.
Additional Documentation Requirements
An applicant who has resided outside of Ireland, including Northern Ireland, for three
years or more, after the age of 18, is required to provide the following supporting
documentation when submitting their Garda Vetting Application Form:
A recent (less than one year old) original police clearance from the jurisdiction(s) of
* St Patrick’s College, Maynooth reserves the right to seek a sworn declaration where a
satisfactory police/criminal records disclosure is not available.
Admissions Office, Pontifical University, St Patrick’s College, Maynooth, Co. Kildare,
Tel: +353 1 7084772 | Fax: +353 1 7083441 | E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.