Academic Misconduct Guidance

What is academic misconduct?

There are many forms of academic misconduct, which includes plagiarism, cheating, and collusion. Some of these are deliberate attempts to deceive but others can occur as a result of a student’s misunderstanding. Being aware of the risks will help to avoid unintentional misconduct.

What is the difference between minor and serious academic misconduct?

Minor academic misconduct presents a minimal threat to the integrity of the assessment process, and may be a result of a student’s poor understanding of referencing or academic practice. Serious academic misconduct however presents a more significant threat and may reflect evidence that a student has knowingly contravened university regulations. It should be noted that when academic misconduct has been admitted or proven on one occasion, a second instance will normally be treated as serious.

What happens when academic misconduct is suspected in an assessment?

Informal procedure: When academic misconduct is suspected in an assessment, the lecturer will advise the student(s) of the suspicion and further investigation will take place. No mark or result will be entered onto the student’s record(s) until the suspicion has been resolved. Using their professional judgement as to the circumstances of the case, staff may decide not to initiate any formal procedures but will admonish the student(s) and counsel them with regard to good academic practice. Notification will be sent to the student’s Personal Academic Tutor and the relevant Quality Manager.

Formal procedure: The lecturer and/or module leader will make a written report providing evidence of alleged academic misconduct to the programme leader, which triggers the formal investigation process. A formal interview will be arranged with the student(s) in order to gauge their knowledge and ascertain if they are the author of the assessment. This interview also offers an opportunity for the student(s) to present their case. The interview will be held within 5 working days of receipt of the report from the lecturer. The student(s) will be informed of details of the process and the purpose of the interview at least 3 working days prior, and they may wish to be accompanied at the interview by a friend or the students’ association representative. Where the student(s) decline to or do not attend an interview without good reason, the programme leader will report the matter and the circumstances to the Dean of Students, who will convene an Academic Misconduct Panel. If the allegation of academic misconduct is proven and deemed minor, an appropriate penalty will be agreed. The student(s) will be advised of the outcome in writing with 2 working days of the interview. Details of the offence and penalty will be held on their record for five years, or the maximum registration for the award, whichever is longer. If the allegation of academic misconduct is proven and deemed to be serious, the matter will be reported to the Dean of Students, who will convene and Academic Misconduct Panel.

What happens when academic misconduct is suspected in an examination?

Formal procedure: Suspected academic misconduct in an examination will automatically be formally investigated. The invigilator(s) will inform the student of their suspicions and clearly annotate the student’s script. This process will be conducted with the minimum of disruption to other candidates within the examination room. The invigilator(s) will confiscate any relevant evidence (for example, any unauthorised material) and allow the student to continue with the examination. However, if the student persists or if they refuse to submit any suspected material, they will be expelled from the examination room. Immediately following the examination the invigilator(s) will submit a report of the matter to the examination officer. This report will immediately be sent to the programme leader and relevant Quality Manager, accompanied by any relevant evidence.

What happens if an Academic Misconduct Panel is convened?

Where an allegation of serious academic misconduct has been made, or where a student(s) has not attended a formal interview, the matter will be investigated by an Academic Misconduct Panel.

The Dean of Students is responsible for convening the panel, but does not sit on the panel themselves nor review the evidence submitted.

The panel will normally be chaired by a Dean of Faculty and comprised of;

  • 2 other members of staff not directly involved with the student(s)
  • President of the students’ association (or nominee) not directly involved with the student(s)
  • The clerk, who will make a written record of the panel hearing

The panel will be convened within 10 working days of the receipt of notification from the programme leader.

Notification of the date, time and place of the hearing will be provided to the student(s) in writing at least 5 days prior. Both the panel and the student(s) will be provided with full details of the alleged academic misconduct and any supporting documentation. The panel have the right to request the attendance of relevant staff members at the hearing.

The student(s) will be advised of their rights and that they may be accompanied by a friend or the students’ association representative. The definition of ‘friend’ does not include members of the legal profession engaged to act in their professional capacity. It is not mandatory for the student(s) to attend the hearing, however they should be aware that if they not attend (without good reason) they will forego the opportunity to present their case directly to the panel.

The student(s) may also submit a written statement of mitigation concerning the alleged academic misconduct.

Following the hearing, the panel will report its conclusion to the Dean of Students, including the penalty to be imposed if academic misconduct has been proven. The Dean of Students will inform the student(s) in writing of the outcome of the panel within 2 working days of the hearing. The programme leader, Personal Academic Tutor, and relevant Quality Manager will also be informed.

Penalties can include, but are not limited to;

  • An admonition (informal warning)
  • A reprimand (a formal written warning to remain on the student’s record for a specified period)
  • A reduction in the mark awarded for one or more assessments in one or more modules, with the opportunity to resit
  • A mark of zero/fail grade with the opportunity to resit
  • A mark of zero/fail grade with no opportunity to resit
  • A suspension from the university for a specified period
  • Permanent exclusion from the university

Any penalty imposed will be held on the student(s) record for five years, or the maximum period of registration for the award, whichever is the longer.

The proceedings and report of the Academic Misconduct Panel will be confidential to the parties involved, the programme leader, Personal Academic Tutor, and the relevant Quality Manager.

Right of Appeal

Students have the right to appeal against the outcome of a formal investigation or the decision of an Academic Misconduct Panel. This must be submitted, in writing, to the Deputy Principal of the University within ten working days of the receipt of any decision.

A complete list of the grounds on which an appeal can be considered can be found in section 19.49 of the Academic Standards and Quality Regulations.

Useful Information

Full details of the academic misconduct procedures and penalties can be found in the Academic Standards and Quality Regulations.

Additional guidance which will help with becoming an effective learner, assessments, examinations, and avoiding academic misconduct can be found in our online Essential Student Skills resource.