Academic misconduct is where a student gains, or seeks, attempts or intends to gain, advantage in relation to assessment, either for him/herself or for another person, by unfair or improper means.
Purchasing work and presenting it as your own is academic misconduct. Essay mill websites are not trustworthy and have been known to financially blackmail students.
Please see the following video originally published on BBC Three Youtube Channel – Inside the essay writing industry - Credit: BBC Three
An act of academic misconduct is committed regardless of whether or not you intended to commit the act. For example, plagiarism may be committed irrespective of whether or not you intended to deceive the examiners. The intention or otherwise of a student to deceive the examiners will not normally influence the penalty imposed.
The University treats academic misconduct cases very seriously and imposes strict penalties on any student found guilty of committing an assessment offence. Therefore it is vital that you familiarise yourself with the regulations as soon as you begin your studies.
If you are not sure about any rules regarding academic writing, citation or exam conduct, guidance is available from many sources, including Blackboard, Learning Resource Centres and from your module leaders/personal tutor. You may also find additional advice and guidance on the University’s referencing your work webpage.
How does the University notify students of academic misconduct cases?
Where a member of academic staff believes that you may have committed an assessment offence, all relevant evidence will be sent to the Academic Standards Team.
A member of the Academic Standards Team will send you a letter notifying you of the allegation and the penalty to be applied. You will also be provided with a copy of the evidence received.
Important: The letter and all subsequent correspondence will be sent via email to your University email account. Hard copies of letters will also be sent to the contact address held on your student record – make sure we have the right address by checking your details on My Student Record.
What should I do if I receive a letter regarding academic misconduct?
Do not ignore the letter. You must read the letter carefully and decide what action you want to take, based on the options indicated in the letter and outlined in Section 10 of the Academic Regulations.
If you have any queries about the letter, get in touch with the Academic Standards Team or the Student Union Advice Team as soon as possible.
How long will it take to deal with my case?
The time it takes to resolve your case will depend on a number of factors, including the type and complexity of the case, and whether or not you contest the allegation. Particular times of year are also much busier than others (for example assessment periods), and cases may take longer to resolve at these times.
Will my mitigating circumstances be considered?
Evidence of mitigating circumstances shall not normally be considered under any stage of the academic misconduct investigation procedures.
Where a penalty is imposed under the academic misconduct regulations, this will override any decision to accept a claim of mitigating circumstances in respect of the assessment in question (see Section 10 and Section 11 of the Academic Regulations).
I've been asked to attend a Viva. What does this mean?
A viva voce examination may be held to verify the authenticity of the student’s work.
A viva voce is a meeting between you and a panel of academic staff, at least one of whom will be a subject specialist. The relevant piece of your assessment will be discussed with you. The academics may ask questions about how you researched and prepared your work. They may ask you to explain particular statements or terms which you have used in your assignment. It is your opportunity to answer questions in person. A record of the meeting will be taken.
Part 3 Section 10 of our academic regulations sets out the procedures for conducting a viva.
I don’t agree with the outcome of my case, what can I do?
If you attend an Academic Misconduct Meeting or Academic Misconduct Panel Hearing you may be able to appeal against the outcome if one of the following applies:
- that new evidence has become available which has a direct bearing on the case which was not, and which could not reasonably have been made available at the time the case was considered; or
- that there has been a material irregularity in the conduct of the academic misconduct process
In any of these cases, you should submit your appeal using the relevant form, together with any new evidence. Your appeal must be submitted within ten working days of receiving the outcome of the allegation.
The Deputy Registrar (Quality and Standards) will consider your appeal and any new evidence in the light of your case to date. If the Deputy Registrar (Quality and Standards) believes that your case should be reconsidered, your case will be referred back to an Academic Misconduct Meeting or the Academic Misconduct Panel Hearing, as appropriate, to be considered afresh.
We recommend you ask for help from the Students' Union Advice Team if you want to appeal the outcome of an Academic Misconduct investigation.
See Part 3 Section 10 of our academic regulations for full details on how and when you may appeal.
For specific queries regarding Category 1 or 2 offences please check the frequently asked questions below.
Category 1 offence frequently asked questions
Once you receive the Category 1 Notification letter (sent via email/post), you must read the letter carefully and decide which of the following options you wish to respond to the allegation with:
Option 1. Admit the allegation and accept the penalty – the penalty above will be applied without further right to appeal
Option 2. Admit the allegation and not accept the penalty – a meeting will be arranged
Option 3. Deny the allegation – a meeting will be arranged
Should you select either Option 2 or 3, then this matter will be referred to an Academic Misconduct Meeting under Regulation 10.50. At the meeting, you will be able to present your case in person where you can provide any evidence or written statement to support your reason(s) for denying the allegation or disputing the penalty.
Failure to respond with any of the above 3 options will result in the penalty being applied with no further right of appeal (in accordance with the letter you’ve already received).
Please note – you are given a 10 working day deadline to confirm your option response, as stated in your letter.
The meeting will take place with the Chair of the College Teaching Committee, or equivalent, and a member of the Academic Standards Team.The meeting should last no longer than 15 minutes depending on the complexity of the case. At the meeting you will be given the chance respond to the allegation, present any evidence of your own that you may consider as supportive to your case defence and explain your reasons for denying the allegation or requesting a lesser penalty.
The proposed penalty may or may not be reconsidered, depending on the evidence provided, therefore attending an Academic Misconduct Meeting is your opportunity to present any information to support your case and explain how you have come to be in this situation.
Please note: In accordance with Regulation 10.51, if you cannot attend a meeting at the proposed date and time, you will be offered one more alternative meeting time. However, if you do not reply to the second meeting invitation within 5 working days, or decline all dates without good reason, the penalty will be applied and the case will be considered closed. If you do not attend a confirmed meeting, the meeting will proceed in your absence and your case will be reviewed in your absence.
Yes, you have the right to:
Be accompanied by a friend, who may be a member of staff of the University of Westminster or a UoW student (including a member of the Students' Union Advice Team)
The role of the friend is to provide moral support during a meeting or hearing. They may make representations on behalf of the student. The friend cannot be a witness to the case under consideration. Please also note: Legal representation is not permitted at any meeting or hearing convened under the provisions of these regulations (Regulation 10.15)
A member of the Student Union’s Advice Team are available to offer advice and guidance on a number of matters including allegations of academic misconduct. For information about their service and how to contact them please visit the UWSU website. You may also arrange for a member of the Student Union Advice Team to accompany you at the meeting.
You may also:
Submit a written statement as evidence to support your case
Call witnesses or friends to attend in person
Any names of witnesses or friends that you invite and any written statements must be submitted to the Academic Standards Team ([email protected]) at least 4 days before the scheduled hearing.
Your module result will be held/frozen whilst this investigation is open.
The penalty detailed in your letter is the proposed penalty for the allegation, this penalty is not yet confirmed or applied until a response is received from you by the deadline specified, or the deadline has elapsed.
If you have selected option 1 – accept the allegation and penalty – your mark will be updated accordingly, and My Student Record should display your results within 2-3 days.
If you have selected either option 2 – admit the allegation and not accept the penalty or option 3 – deny the allegation, you will be invited to a meeting as described above. After the meeting has taken place, you will receive the outcome of your case via email and post within 10 working days. Your result will be updated on My Student Record accordingly.
Queries regarding referral opportunities and how this affects your progression should be sent to your Campus Registry after you have received the outcome letter. Only the Registry would be able to confirm and process any referral opportunities, as the referral period is timetabled in accordance with the academic year and the Assessment Boards. Visit the Campus Registry Offices page for contact details.
Category 2 offence (hearing) frequently asked questions
Once you receive the Category 2 Notification letter (sent via email/post), the Academic Standards Team will work on organising your Hearing date and arranging a full independent panel to review your case as soon as possible.
You will be written to with further details once the date, time and location of the hearing has been confirmed. Please ensure you check your Westminster email account for this information.
The Panel will consist of a quorum of 3 members. This includes:
Head of College, or nominee (Chair)
at least one independent academic staff member
a Student Union representative
The Academic Standards Manager will act as Secretary to the Panel.
Please note: the Module Leader will also be invited to attend to confirm the details of the assignment in question and clarify any points for the Panel.
The ‘zero for all assessment components’ is the proposed penalty for the allegation, however this penalty is not yet confirmed or applied until your case has been reviewed at a Hearing.
Your module result will be held/frozen while this investigation is open.
The proposed penalty of 0% for all assessment components may be reconsidered, therefore this is your opportunity to present any information to support your case and explain how you have come to be in this situation. We are unable to consider evidence relating to mitigating circumstances, when investigating academic misconduct allegations.
Once you have been sent a confirmation of hearing letter informing you of the date, time and location of the hearing, you must confirm your attendance.
If the Academic Standards Team do not receive a response from you regarding your attendance at the hearing by the deadline outlined in your letter, you will not be permitted to attend.
Please note: if you fail to attend, the hearing will proceed in your absence and your case will be reviewed by the Panel members in accordance with regulation: 10.63.
You have the right to attend this academic misconduct panel hearing and you will be asked about the piece of work in question in relation to the allegation. You will be given the chance to respond to the allegation and to present any evidence of your own that you may consider relevant to your case.
At least three working days before the hearing, you will be sent a copy of all the documentation to be reviewed at the hearing.
Yes, you have the right to:
Be accompanied by a Friend, who may be a member of staff of the University of Westminster or a UoW student (including a member of the Students' Union Advice Team). Please refer to Regulation 10.6 and 10.15 for further information on the role of a friend at the Hearing
- Please also note: Legal representation is not permitted at the hearing convened under the provisions of the Regulations
A member of Students’ Union Advice Team are available to offer advice and guidance on a number of matters including allegations of academic misconduct. For information about their service and how to contact them please visit the UWSU website. You may also arrange for a member of the Student Union Advice Team to accompany you at the hearing.
You may also:
- Submit a written statement as evidence to support your case
- Call witnesses or friends to attend in person
Please note: Any names of witnesses or friends that you invite and any written statements must be submitted to the Academic Standards Team ([email protected]) at least four days before the scheduled hearing.
Following the hearing, the outcome of your case will be sent to you via email and post within 10 working days and your result will be updated on My Student Record accordingly.
Queries regarding referral opportunities and how this affects your progression should be sent to your Campus Registry after you have received the outcome letter. Only the Registry would be able to confirm and process any referral opportunities, as the referral period is timetabled in accordance with the academic year and the Assessment Boards. Visit the Campus Registry Offices for contact details.
You can also refer to Section 17 (for Undergraduates) or Section 18 (for Postgraduates) of the Academic Regulations to check the referral eligibility across your level of study. See below: