Academic Misconduct

The University has fundamental core values and expect students to abide by in their academic work. These include integrity, honesty, openness, rigour, accountability, care, and respect. A student is expected to maintain high standards of academic practice and not engage in academic misconduct.

The Advice on this webpage is for Students on Under Graduate and Post Graduate taught programmes. If you are a Research Student there advice will be different and the University has a separate procedure. If you are a research student and need advice please contact Student Advice.

Students are accused of Academic Misconduct when the University believes a student has either cheated in an exam or when the coursework submitted is for example, plagiarised, self-plagiarised, undertaken with another student (collusion) or written by an external writing service or “essay mill”.

Academic misconduct can take place irrespective of whether your actions or inactions were intended to gain an unfair advantage or not.

For this reason it is very important:

  • To seek help from academic staff if you are struggling with a piece or coursework;
  • Be very careful when seeking help or giving help to others
  • If you are rushing to meet a deadline you are most at risk making mistakes. Don’t rush. Request an extension to your deadline if you have any extenuating circumstances or submit within 24 hours of the deadline. The work will be capped at the pass mark but if you submit work that is not your own you could have your mark cancelled.
  • Know that many students who have been accused of Academic Misconduct have had some difficult circumstances that have effected there judgement. It is better to apply for Extenuating Circumstance than submit work that is not your own or where you might have made referencing errors.
  • Be aware that the University will not allow Extenuating Circumstances to be accepted if the University decides you are guilty of Academic Misconduct>
  • The University has very clear rules about how students should conduct themselves in exams. Make sure you know these rules.
  • When sitting an exam double check your phone is not in your pocket and put it in the box under then exam desk. Having a phone in your pocket is considered exam misconduct even if you don’t use it and it is turned off.
  • Remember if you are on a Professional programme with a Fitness to Practise requirement, Academic Misconduct might be regarded and dishonesty and so the School might initiate a Fitness to Practise Investigation.

If you have been accused of Academic Misconduct, Student Advice can help you. We are a confidential service and not part of the University.

What is Academic Misconduct?

The University Academic Integrity Policy states that Academic Misconduct includes;

  1. Plagiarism: the use of someone else’s words, ideas, intellectual property, or work, without proper acknowledgment by use of correct referencing conventions, or necessary permissions. Words or ideas may include: text (including paraphrasing), diagrams, formulae, software.
  2. Self-plagiarism: when work is reproduced or re-presented for assessment when it has already been part of another assessment. This includes work on your current programme of study or a previous programme of study at the University or at another educational institution.
  3. External writing service: the use of an external writing service, for example essay banks, essay mills, ghost writers, or any external essay/thesis writing service, in place of or in addition to your own writing.
  4. Collusion: presenting work as your own when it has been produced by, or with, someone else, or allowing work to be submitted in someone else’s name.
  5. Examination Misconduct: any action in an examination venue which is against examination rules and/or which may lead to an unfair advantage over other students. This may include bringing unauthorised materials or items into an examination, copying the responses of another student, communicating with any person other than the examination invigilator in an examination by speaking, text, telephone, gestures or on any other platform, impersonating another student, or allowing yourself to be impersonated.
  6. Dishonesty: when information or actions that are not true or authentic are presented or there is deliberate deception. This may include the creation of or fabrication of data, the inappropriate manipulation and/or selection of data or imagery etc., representing falsely or unfairly the ideas or work of others.
  7. Breach of rule or protocols: all staff and students taking part in research are expected to familiarise themselves with, and comply with, the Research Integrity and Governance Code of Practice, and to adhere to the ethics requirements and other requirements which relate to the conduct of academic work. Contraventions of this Code of Practice might include the failure properly to protect privileged or private information on individuals collected during research, or the refusal to allow your methods, procedures, findings, or data to be available for scrutiny, within any agreed confidentiality arrangement.
  8. Any attempt to gain an unfair advantage in an assessment.

What happens if you are accused of Academic Misconduct?

Examinations and Class Tests

Where it is alleged that a student cheated during an examination, the invigilator’s report and evidence will be submitted to the Academic Misconduct Co-ordinator who will liaise with the module leader to assess the relevance of the information to the syllabus of the examination being taken and/or the extent of the breach of the rules. You will be allowed to continue with the examination and any other planned examinations, but the invigilator will mark the answer paper with the time of the alleged misconduct. In exceptional circumstances, you may not be informed at the time of the exam that an invigilator’s report is being made, e.g. if you have left the examination room before the concern is noted. The invigilator may confiscate and/or photograph any evidence which is in your possession and this will form part of the Senior Invigilator’s report.

Other Academic Misconduct

If a member of staff has a concern about your work or the assessment task, they will report this to the Academic Misconduct Co-ordinator who may make initial enquiries to establish if the case requires formal investigation.

The Investigation

For most cases of unfair practice you will be invited to attend an ‘investigatory’ meeting with the Academic Misconduct Coordinator for your academic school. You should be given 14 days’ notice of the meeting and provided with evidence that supports the allegation within 7 days of the meeting. The meeting is to establish how or why your work may have been flagged up. This is not a meeting to be anxious about, but you can be accompanied by an adviser from the Students’ Union. You will need to reply to the letter confirming your attendance and your intention to be accompanied by a representative from the Students’ Union. We strongly advise you to attend the meeting and to meet with a Student Adviser before the meeting so the Adviser can help you to prepare. If for a very god reason you are unable to attend the meeting the School will normally re arrange this for you or offer a meeting via Skype.

Preparing for the meeting

It is important that you prepare thoroughly for the meeting so you are able to respond to the allegations made again you. A Student Adviser can help you with this. In Student Advice we refer to the OIA Best Practice Framework which states what an investigator and decision maker should consider (section 73 to 77). In light of this in your preparation you will need to;

  • Look at the evidence that has been sent to you and try and work out what went wrong.
  • Ask yourself if there are any mitigating factors that might have affected your judgment and obtain evidence.
  • If you did not intend to gain an Unfair Advantage it is important to let the investigator know this
  • That the Investigator knows how any penalty will impact upon you

You will be offered the opportunity of submitting a written statement before the meeting but we strongly advise against doing so unless for very good reason you are unable to attend. We always recommend sending your statement after the meeting, when you are fully aware of the concerns. You will then have a better idea of how to explain the possible reasons the unfair practice has occurred.

Attending the Meeting

The purpose of this meeting is to establish the facts relevant to the allegation. During the meeting the Academic Misconduct Coordinator will discuss the concerns with you. Your module leader or the person who marked the work may attend to explain the concerns about your work. A note taker may also be present. During this meeting it is important that you answer the questions you are asked as honestly as possible.

Following the meeting, the Academic Misconduct Coordinator will complete a report for submission to the Chair of the Examining Board and will send this to you, normally by email. You have 7 days to dispute the concern at this stage and/or if you have comments about the content of the meeting record. Student Advice recommend that you submit a clear statement of your case at this stage and respond fully to the record of the meeting. The statement should be sent directly to the Chair of the Exam Board via email. A Student Adviser can help you with this.

The Chair of the Examining Board will then look at your work, the report and your statement. They will decide if on the balance of probability there is Academic Misconduct. They will also take into account; the extent and nature of the concern, level of study, and any mitigating factors that might have effected judgment.

The Chair of the Exam Board can take the following actions:

  • Dismiss the concern.
  • Require your attendance at study skills sessions and advise of consequences of any future concerns (the study skills session may be provided online instead).
  • Award a mark of 0 for the assessment.
  • Award a mark of 0 for the module.
  • Refer to the University Academic Integrity Panel who will normally meet within 42 days of the referral being made. This would be when the case is considered very serious or there has been an allegation of Academic Misconduct before.
  • Refer you to other University procedures if relevant, e.g. Fitness to Practise, Student or Staff Conduct Procedures.

University Academic Integrity Panel

The Chair of the Examining Board will usually refer the case to the University Academic Integrity Panel (Stage 2) where one or more of the following circumstances are present:

  • There is more than one incident of alleged academic misconduct.
  • There has been a previous case of academic misconduct.
  • The extent of misconduct is considered to be serious.
  • The alleged case is at a higher level of study, i.e. level 6, 7, or 8.
  • There is an aggravating factor, for example bribery, threatening behaviour, or intimidation.

If you case is referred to an Academic Integrity Panel a Student Adviser can help you prepare and attend the panel hearing with you. It is important to contact Student Advice immediately so there is enough time to prepare.

In advance of the hearing you will be sent all the documents that are to be considered and will be given the opportunity to give evidence and call witnesses.

If the allegation is substantiated, the sanctions available to the panel are:

  • Require your attendance at study skills sessions and advise of consequences of any further concerns (the study skills session may be provided online instead).
  • Issue a formal reprimand.
  • Award a mark of 0 for the assessment component or module.
  • In exceptional circumstances, where the mitigating circumstances warrant this, you may be permitted a further attempt at the assessment with the mark to be either uncapped or capped.
  • Require you to be reassessed in a module or unit of study before progression or completion of your programme of study.
  • Recommend to the Academic Registrar that you are excluded temporarily for a specified period of up to 1 academic year.
  • Recommend to the Vice-Chancellor a reduction of the degree result by 1 level/class.
  • Recommend to the Vice-Chancellor that you are excluded from the programme, from University study, and from all future examinations for a fixed number of years or permanently.
  • Recommend to Awards and Progress Committee and Senate that the award of the degree be rescinded.

How can Student Advice help?

If you are facing an allegation of Academic Misconduct, you can speak to Student Advice in confidence about your case and a Student Adviser can help you to prepare your response to the allegation. Student Advice is independent from the University so we can offer you confidential and impartial advice.

It is important that you contact Student Advice as soon as you receive a letter about Academic Misconduct. A Student Adviser can explain the procedure to you, attend any meetings with you and help you draft a response to the allegation.