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Admissions Guidelines for Applicants and Students under the Age of 18 Years

This document defines the policy for applicants under the age of 18 applying for admissions. The procedure notes are provided as an appendix to this document. 

Responsibility of:   

Head of Registry

Produced by:  

Head of Registry and

Head of Admissions  

Approved by:

Academic Board

Approval date:  

  12th July 2022

Review date:  

  12th July 2023



1 Introduction

1.1 Although the majority of applicants are over 18, we do get a number of applications from under 18s and this document sets out how the University will deal with them in future. It should be noted that anyone under 18 years of age is, as a matter of law, defined as a child; and the University has an enhanced duty of care towards children. The following procedures and guidelines ensure that it fulfils this duty of care towards students under 18. All members of staff who come into contact with children are responsible for ensuring their role in fulfilling the University's duty of care is fully carried out.

1.2 This document should be read in conjunction with the University's policies and procedures on children, young people and vulnerable adults on campus.

1.3 Safeguard and Prevent strategy

1.4 Safeguarding policy on children, young people and vulnerable adults

2 Duty of care: General principles

2.1 The traditional view of an education provider's duty of care towards a child was that of the reasonably careful parent. The education provider was considered to be in loco parentis.

2.2 This view has been eroded in recent case law such that the professional duty is now to take such steps to "safeguard" children. Safeguarding is defined as meaning that agencies working with children should take all reasonable measures to ensure that risks of harm to children's welfare are minimised and that, where there are concerns about children's welfare, all agencies take all appropriate action to address these concerns[1].

2.3 The responsibility for safeguarding rests with "all those who come into contact with children and families in their everyday work, including practitioners who do not have a specific role in relation to child protection"2.

2.4 Safeguarding for registered students of the University who are under 18 includes:

(i) ensuring that students under the age of 18 have the opportunity to participate in activities in a safe and secure environment;

(ii) enabling the parent/carers of the children to have confidence in the institution's care for under 18-year-olds;

(iii) ensuring that any student under the age of 18 suffering from or who has suffered significant harm as a consequence of their interaction with the University is identified and responded to appropriately and quickly;

(iv) ensuring that anyone who is unsuitable to work with under 18 year olds is identified and prevented from doing so within the University.

3 Admission arrangements relating to students and applicants who are under 18 years

3.1 The University defines its admission requirements in terms of academic achievement. Any applicant must fulfil the entry requirements in order to be admitted.

3.2 Applicants who will be under 18 on entry will be considered on the same basis as other students.

3.3 All applicants who will be 16 or under on entry will be referred to the Course Lead and Head of Department for review before an offer is made.

3.4 The University will write to parent(s)/guardian(s) of applicants under 18 before the start of their undergraduate programme:

  1. informing them that the University is not in loco parentis;
  2. reminding them that a University is an adult environment; and
  3. requesting that they advise their child that s/he may not enter licensed premises or hold office until they reach the age of 18.

3.5 The University will store a list of the student’s emergency contact details, in particular those of parent(s)/guardian(s). In the case of students from an overseas family background, the University will require the nomination of a UK based guardian.

4. Pastoral support

4.1 Personal Tutor staff with particular pastoral responsibility for registered students under the age of 18 years will be DBS checked, and provided with guidance on working with students under the age of 18. They should be made aware of the offence of abuse of a position of trust under section 2.3 of the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 2000. Resident Mentors and professional counselling staff are DBS checked and are provided with the same guidance and information regarding their duty under the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 2000.

4.2 Annex C gives details in respect of the procedure for checking of Resident Mentors and Personal Tutors, and allocation of tutees.

5. Accommodation

5.1 Registered students under the age of 18 years will not be allocated to share a room with a student of the opposite sex or an adult, or another student over the age of 18. The University will aim to offer students under the age of 18 an en suite bathroom, but where this is not possible they will have shared toilet and kitchen facilities with other residents and their guests/visitors (who may be adults or of the opposite sex).

5.2 Maintenance and cleaning staff may visit students' bedrooms. The University will not make checks to ensure that these staff have passed a DBS check but the Accommodation Office will contact relevant staff to inform them that there is student under the age of 18 living on the premises. The parent/guardian of applicants under the age of 18 years will be advised of this fact before admission.

5.3 Students will not be supervised in accommodation on a daily basis and are free to come and go without needing to sign in or out.

5.4 Students may contact their Resident Mentor concerning any matter relating to their stay in University residences or on any personal issue. Resident Mentors do not however as a matter of routine make proactive contact with students living in University residences (i.e. to check on their welfare) and are not DBS checked.

Placements, student activities (including volunteering) and study trips

6.1 The University recognises the same duty of care in connection with off campus activities it organises such as field trips.

6.2 In line with University policy, Risk Assessments will be carried out for all University organised or co-ordinated off campus activities, trips or placements. Where any participant is under 18 years of age, the evaluation will include assessment in relation to accommodation, welfare support, staff checks and guidance, health and safety and other relevant issues.

International students

7.1 The University should provide an equitable level of safeguarding toward its students who are under 18, regardless of country of origin, and no further special measures are taken in respect of non-UK students who are under 18 years of age.

7.2 The University expects that the parent(s)/guardian(s) of international applicants who are under the age of 18 years will nominate the UK guardian. This information is collected as part of the admission process.


8.1 Emergency contact information is collected for all applicants who are under the age of 18 years as part of the admissions process.

8.2 The parent/guardian of under 18-year-old applicants is invited to indicate whether they wish to be contacted in an emergency situation (which would include not only medical emergencies, but also for example situations involving other emergency services, such as the Police). The University's practice is to act in accordance with this indication until the child passes the 18th birthday when the normal policy applies[2].

[1] The Children Act (1989), and Joint Chief Inspectors (2002) Safeguarding Children: A Joint Chief Inspectors' Report on Arrangements to Safeguard Children, London: DH Publications. 2 Department of Health (2003) What to do if you're worried a child is being abused, London: DH Publications.

[2] Under the Data Protection Act the University will release next of kin information to the emergency services The University notes that hospitals and the Police contact next of kin is a matter of course, and that the release of information to emergency services for any student is allowed, as long as that release is to protect the vital interests of the individual concerned

    1. The following outlines the University procedures for handling applications from candidates who will be under 18 years of age at the start of their programme. 
    2. Applications from potential students who will be under 18 years of age at the start of their chosen programme will be highlighted.  Decisions on whether to offer places will be on the same criteria as those applied to other applications. 
    3. If the applicant will be 17 at the point of enrolment the admissions office will make an offer in the standard way, assuming all academic requirements are met and auditions/interviews have, where required, been passed.
    4. At the point of offer the applicant will be sent an email requesting contact information for a parent or Legal guardian. Once received the parent or Legal guardian will be sent an email asking them to complete an online consent form. Once received, this will be saved and stored against the applicant record on our student record system (SITS).
    5. If the applicant will be 16 or under at the point of enrolment the admissions office will forward the application to the Course Lead and Head of Department for review. If passed, the offer and contact with the parent/legal guardian will proceed in the same way as for applicants who will be 17.
    6. No applicant under 18 at the point of enrolment will be able to enrol without the parental/legal guardian consent form being in place.
    7. A copy of the online consent form will be made available to Student Services. 
    8. Student Services will coordinate arrangements arising from any interview or risk assessment process. 
    9. In September, following confirmation, the Admissions Office will create a list of under 18-year-old candidates with unconditional firm offers, to be circulated to Student Services and to the Accommodation Office, Registry Services, Course Leads, Heads of Department, the University Academic Business Manager and Wellbeing Services.
    10. The Accommodation Office will ensure that under 18-year-old candidates are not allocated to shared accommodation. 
    11. Student Services will ensure the appropriate onward promulgation of the information. 

    TO: The Parent or Guardian of:

    Dear Sir/ Madam

    Admission of applicants under the age of 18

    Student ID: 11111

    Programme: BA/BSc YYYY

    Dear Parent or Guardian of XXX,

    We are writing to you as the parent/legal guardian of XXX. As you are aware, XXX will be under 18 years of age at the start of their course at St Mary's University.

    United Kingdom law defines people under the age of 18 years as children and although not specifically covered by the legislation, higher education institutions have an enhanced implied duty of care towards students who are legally children. In order to enable us to properly fulfil this duty-of-care we would like to inform you about a number of points in relation to your child's time at University.

    1) You need to be aware that the University is not "in loco parentis". This means that the University will not act in a parental capacity towards your child.

    2) The University is taking steps to seek to ensure that staff with pastoral responsibilities for students under 18 years of age have been DBS checked. However, these checks are focussed on Personal Tutors as it is not feasible to check all staff who your child may come into contact with. A DBS checked member of staff from the relevant School will be appointed as the Personal Tutor. You therefore need to be aware that your child will have dealings with members of staff who have not been DBS checked, although their Personal Tutor will have been.

    3) The residential accommodation on campus is serviced by maintenance and cleaning staff who will not have been DBS checked. You therefore need to be aware of the possibility that University staff who may not have been DBS checked may have access to your child's room if they are living in University accommodation. Some parents may prefer to advise their child to leave their room and go to a communal area when a member of maintenance or cleaning staff is in attendance.

    4) In general, students are not supervised in accommodation on a daily basis and are free to come and go without needing to sign in or out. Further details of the University accommodation can be found in the Residents Handbook.

    5) The University catering facilities include a bar that is licensed. You may wish to advise your child that they would be breaking the law should they consume or purchase alcohol from these outlets whilst under the age of 18.

    We need to make sure that any potential students under 18 years old who apply for a place on a University programme have the permission of their parent or guardian to attend that programme. In this context, I would be grateful if you could complete and return the Under 18 parental or legal guardian permission form, confirming your permission and giving us your preferred means of emergency contact Under 18 Permission.

    Although informing you of these points is necessarily formal, we do want to reassure you that the University campus is in general a safe environment where the majority of students enjoy their time and have a trouble-free University career. When things are difficult for students, we have a high-quality and well-coordinated support network to resolve problems, including a 24-hour Security presence on campus, residential mentors who support student welfare and ensure discipline in each residence, and a range of professional support services available to all students.

    Further details can be found in the Services for Students Handbook webpages.

    If you have any queries please do not hesitate to contact us.

    Kind regards,

    Admissions Team

    If you need to contact the Admissions team and you are living in the UK or Ireland or are living outside the UK/Ireland but have applied to study a teaching course, Acting, Technical Theatre or Physiotherapy then please email or call 020 8240 2394

    All other applicants currently living outside of the UK/Ireland please email or call 020 8240 4027 if you need to contact Admissions

    Normal opening hours for the Admissions Office are Monday - Friday 09:00-17:00.

    • Student Services will ensure the DBS checks for any Wardens who will have students under the age of 18 in their hall of residence.
    • Student Services will notify all relevant staff in the appropriate School of the names of students under the age of 18.
    • Programme Directors will be informed of the names of any students under the age of 18.  Registry will ensure that a DBS checked member of staff from the relevant School will be appointed as the Personal Tutor.