Man awaiting appeal on law course

September 11, 1998

Aberdeen University has begun an urgent inquiry into its acceptance of a law student revealed to have an assault conviction.

A weekend press report stated that Michael Anthony, due to start studies this term, was given a three-month jail sentence three years ago for an assault on his wife. It said Mr Anthony was released shortly after being jailed, pending an appeal that has not yet been decided.

A university spokeswoman said Mr Anthony had not told the university of the conviction. The admissions officer has now written to him requesting full details of the conviction and the appeal and personal references on his subsequent conduct.

Mr Anthony is among the last students who have not been obliged to disclose criminal convictions on Universities and Colleges Admissions Service application forms. Future applicants will have to tick a yes/no box for any criminal convictions except minor motoring offences.

Last year, a Southampton University maths student was convicted of sexually assaulting a fellow student. The university was unaware that he had eight previous convictions for sex offences.

The Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals has supported UCAS's move, saying that universities have a legal and moral duty to consider the safety of their community and can discharge this duty only with knowledge of applicants' histories.

The Aberdeen spokeswoman said that until now UCAS had in its notes warned applicants not to omit "material information", which included "criminal convictions of a serious nature". "Our policy is that prospective students with criminal records are admitted only at the principal's discretion," she said. "Where the offence is serious, they are usually denied entry until two years after the sentence has expired, and we seek suitable references.

"Until the full facts are in front of us, we cannot make a definitive statement on this case."

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