Academic misconduct

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. 

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.

Part 3 Section 10 of the Handbook of Academic Regulations, sets out the procedures relating to academic misconduct and penalties relating to academic misconduct.

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.

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.

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 by the faculty to the Student Regulations Team.

A member of the Student Regulations 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 SRSWeb.

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 Student Regulations Team or the Research, Representation & Welfare Advisor in the Student Union as soon as possible.

What happens if I do not respond to the letter?

If you do not respond the penalty detailed in your letter will apply and you will have no further right of appeal.

If I choose to admit the allegation but not accept the penalty or deny the allegation, what happens at the meeting?

At the meeting, there will be the Chair of the Faculty Quality Assurance Committee, or nominee (usually an academic staff member from your faculty), and a member of the Student Regulations Team, who will take notes and advise on the relevant regulations. The meeting may last anything from 15 to 30 minutes, depending on the complexity of the case and other factors.

You are entitled to be accompanied by a friend, who may be a member of staff of the University of Westminster or a University of Westminster student (including a member of the Student Union Executive). Please check Section 10 for further information on the role of a friend at the meeting.

You will be asked if you understand the purpose of the meeting, and the piece of work in question will usually be viewed and discussed 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.

After you have left the meeting, a decision will be made by the Chair of the Faculty Quality Assurance Committee, or nominee. You will be formally notified of the outcome in writing by the Student Regulations Team as soon as possible after the meeting.

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 the Handbook of 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 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 Associate Director, Academic Quality and Standards will consider your appeal and any new evidence in the light of your case to date. If the Associate Director, Academic 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 if you want to appeal the outcome of an Academic Misconduct investigation.

See Part 3 Section 10 of the Handbook of Academic Regulations for full details on how and when you may appeal.

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