Disciplinary procedures at university

Disciplinary procedures at universityFind out about the procedures you might face if you break the rules while at university.

Compared to school, university students are expected to take much more responsibility for their work, results and attendance – but push things too far and your uni will step in. Universities are particularly likely to intervene in cases of:

  • Plagiarism
  • Cheating in exams
  • Violent, threatening or offensive behaviour
  • Fraud or dishonesty when dealing with the university
  • Damaging university property
  • Using university resources improperly – for example, downloading films illegally over the university network

You’ll probably be expected to sign an agreement when you start your course covering these kinds of behaviour.

What happens if you break the rules

Every university’s procedures will be different, but they should be available in writing so that you can check they are being followed properly. Minor issues might be dealt with informally by a tutor or other member of staff, but serious or repeated misconduct can have major consequences that could affect your degree. You’ll normally have to attend a formal hearing, where you will be able to make your case to a panel. If you’re found guilty, the panel has the power to assign punishments, such as written warnings or fines. You may be asked to take a break from university, or expelled permanently.

In cases of academic misconduct, such as plagiarism or cheating, you can expect to have your mark reduced or, in more serious cases, be made to repeat the year. If it’s very serious or repeated, you might have to leave your course.

If you’re caught misusing university resources, you might have your right to use them suspended, either temporarily or permanently. This can make your studies much more difficult.

You’ll normally have the right to appeal against any punishment. Your university should provide details of when you can appeal and how to do it. Your student union should be able to help you with both an initial hearing and an appeal.

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