The University needs to ensure that students behave appropriately and adhere to its regulations, and do not behave in ways that adversely affect the safety, interests or reputation of the University, its staff or students.
The Senate has jurisdiction over all registered students in respect of both their studies and conduct. Action can also be taken against former students, if the alleged offence took place while they were registered.
There are several Codes which are designed to address concerns regarding behaviour. The Complaints Procedure has provision for grievances regarding bullying, harassment or discrimination, which can include grievances about student behaviour, though these would be treated as student conduct matters.
What are the Codes and when should they be used?
Code of Student Conduct
This is the main procedure for registered students and former students who were registered at the time of an alleged offence. The Code lists a series of defined breaches of conduct (which is not exhaustive), and there are separate procedures relating to academic and non-academic misconduct. All academic allegations are considered by the Senior Senate Assessor for Student Conduct so that they can decide how to deal with the allegation. In most cases students are then interviewed by two Senate Assessors for Student Conduct. Some allegations of exam misconduct may be dealt with in the student's absence, instead referring to any statement submitted by the student. More serious cases, both academic and non-academic, are referred to the Senate Student Conduct Committee which has greater powers, including the power to expel students from the University. Occasionally, the matter may be considered under the Code of Practice on Unacceptable Behaviour, Fitness to Study, or Fitness to Practise.
Examples of use: academic misconduct such as plagiarism, contract cheating (e.g. purchasing essays) or examination misconduct; dishonest conduct; violent or sexual behaviour; disruptive, harassing or threatening behaviour.
Procedure for Determining Fitness to Practise
This is for students registered on specific programmes of study which are subject to fitness to practise procedures (e.g. Medicine, Teaching). If there are concerns regarding students’ behaviour in the professional context (e.g. on placement), or if they are considered to have breached their School’s Code of Professional Conduct and Fitness to Practise they should be considered under the Fitness to Practice Procedure.
Examples of use: inappropriate interactions with patients, clients, children or service users; ill health which prevents the demonstration of standard professional competencies; any behaviour which indicates the student may not be a fit and proper person to enter the profession.
Cases of general misconduct, or academic misconduct which would be problematic on any programme of study should be considered under the Code of Student Conduct first. If a case is established, the Head of School will be notified so that they can decide whether specific consideration of Fitness to Practise is also required. In some cases, referral to the Fitness to Practise Committee may be recommended or required by the Senate Assessors or the Conduct Committee.
Procedure for Determining Fitness to Study
This procedure can be applied to any student on any programme. If there are concerns regarding students’ behaviour that may be related to their health or wellbeing (including mental health), they should be considered under the Fitness to Study Procedure. The aim of this procedure is to support the student to complete his/her studies (which may include taking some time out of study) while minimising any negative impact on the student and other students.
Examples of use: disruptive behaviour in class or in group work; lack of attendance, engagement or progress because of ill health; use of unsafe working practices (e.g in labs).
Code of Practice on Unacceptable Behaviour
The Code of Practice on Unacceptable Behaviour may be applied to any member of the University community including its students, or anyone communicating with the University. The aim of the procedure is to ensure that any unacceptable behaviour is ended. The Code defines unacceptable behaviour and if there are concerns about a pattern of behaviour which is aggressive, unreasonable, or disruptive the individual will be asked to modify their behaviour. Ultimately, if this is refused contact can be restricted or ended. Since the changes to the Code of Student Conduct in 2021-22, which include local resolution, it is anticipated that students will not typically be interviewed under this Code, and that it may more usually be applied to non-students communicating with the Univeresity.
Examples of use: students who make unreasonable demands or display harassing or abusive behaviour whilst engaged in another of the University Codes e.g. an academic appeal or formal complaint; parents of students who communicate with the University in an unreasonable, abusive or demanding way.
Allegations of violence or threatened violence (including sexual violence) by students should be dealt with under the Code of Student Conduct as should any other serious incident of misconduct. Typically, such allegations would be escalated directly to the Senate Student Conduct Committee for consideration, and a precautionary suspension may be applied by the Clerk of Senate pending investigation.