Student conduct

The University of Plymouth is committed to creating an environment where all members of its community are respected, treated with dignity and feel safe, as well as ensuring the proper working of the University.

The Student Code of Conduct and Disciplinary Procedure serves as a framework to help students understand:

  • what is expected them,
  • what standards of behaviour they can expect from other students,
  • what happens if those expectations are not met.

The Code of Conduct sets the scope, guiding principles and provides a definition of misconduct and the Disciplinary Procedure and associated appendices provide detail on how the disciplinary process is applied in practice.

The University has a standalone policy in relation to sexual violence and misconduct.

COVID-19

An addendum, appendix 4, has been added to the Student Code of Conduct which reflects the University’s approach in light of COVID-19. It provides information on how the University may respond when a student does not follow the University’s local social distancing and COVID-19 safety recommendations or Government requirements.

 

Frequently asked questions

Who can make a complaint about a student’s behaviour?

A complaint about a student’s behaviour can come from a fellow student, member of staff, the Police or any other third party.

What do I do if I see someone that is not social distancing or following other COVID-19 guidelines?

We are expecting our staff and students to be responsible for their own wellbeing, as well as others within our University community. If you witness any social distancing or other COVID-19 guidelines not being followed, you should respectfully remind the relevant individual of social distancing and safety recommendations and/or Government legal requirements. 

An addendum to the Student Code of Conduct has been introduced that specifically covers COVID-19, see appendix 4 in the Student Code of Conduct.

If you feel that the request is not being acted on then you can choose to report the incident via the University’s ‘Speak Up’ online reporting tool, providing the name of the student you wish to report.

What happens when a complaint is made about a student’s behaviour?

The University will always investigate any allegation of misconduct and if you report concerns about the actions of another student it will always be taken seriously.

When a complaint about conduct is received, the complainant will be contacted with a view to understand more about the incident and how they would like the matter taken forward. The process will be explained as well as sign posting to appropriate support services.

What is the difference between the Disciplinary Procedure and Fitness to Practice Procedure?

Any conduct matters that relate to a student on a professional programme are investigated through the relevant Fitness to Practice Policy and Procedure after an initial fact finding meeting has taken place.

What if I wish to raise a concern but remain anonymous?

There may be times when a complainant and/or witness gives consent but wishes to remain anonymous. Whilst this can be completely understandable from the complainant’s and a witness’ perspective, it does not lend itself to a fair and transparent process for the student that the complaint is against. The student may find that they are presented with a complaint that lacks detail and which may mean they are unable to have a right of reply. However, there may be instances where a piece of evidence is sufficient to take forward an anonymous complaint or witness statement, for example a screen shot of a group chat.

What is the difference between ‘minor’ and ‘major’ misconduct?

Misconduct at the University is classed as ‘minor’ or ‘major’. 

Matters of misconduct are not always straight forward however the table in appendix 1 of the Code of Conduct and Disciplinary Procedure aims to serve as a guide to the probable classifications for examples of misconduct.

Minor misconduct will be considered by the Head of School or Service Area whereas major misconduct will be considered by a panel at a disciplinary hearing.

What penalty might be imposed?

One or more of the following penalties can be issued for cases of minor misconduct, but are not limited to: 

a) Verbal caution (which can be given in the informal resolution stage)
b) Restorative actions: such as an apology, undertake training, reflective essay or activities that benefit the University community (which can be given in the informal resolution stage)
c) Written warning
d) Financial penalty to make good any damage made (up to a limit of £500). 

One or more of the following penalties can be issued in the cases of major misconduct, but are not limited to: 

a) Verbal warning, where mitigation is warranted
b) Written warning, where mitigation is warranted
c) Restorative actions: such as an apology, undertake training, reflective essay or activities that benefit the University community
d) Financial penalty to make good any damage made (up to a limit of £1500
e) A full suspension from the University for the remainder of the academic year, or longer as decided by the panel
f) Exclusion from a programme either temporarily (where a new application to the programme will be required), or permanently
g) Permanent expulsion from the University. 

Restrictions may also be imposed and or any other penalty that is proportionate and appropriate to the offence, such as a fine.
In cases relating to a sponsored Tier 4 responding student, and the penalty imposed falls under e, f or g, sponsorship will likely be withdrawn.

Where the student is in University managed accommodation and the outcome of the hearing means that they are no longer a student at the University, they will be required to leave halls.

Will I be told about the outcome of my complaint/concern raised?

When you have made a complaint you will receive acknowledgement that the complaint has been received and is being considered; you will also be updated: 

  • After the matter has been considered and whether the complaint is being taken forward
  • When the formal process has concluded and that any appropriate action has been taken. 

Due to data protection, you will not normally be informed of the penalty issued. In certain exceptional circumstances, and only after discussion with the Student Conduct Office, precautionary measures and/or outcomes of a disciplinary matter can be shared with you, such as when the penalty has had a direct impact on you e.g. the student the complaint was against has been required to make an apology to you.

What happens if I am unhappy with the outcome of a Disciplinary Procedure?

The student the complaint was against:

You will have a right of appeal against the outcome of an investigation that has decided that you committed an act of misconduct and/or against a penalty imposed. 

Appeals must fall under one of more of the following: 

a) The procedures were not followed properly
b) The decision reached was unreasonable
c) The student has new material that they were unable, for valid reasons, to provide earlier in the process
d) There is bias or reasonable perception of bias, during the process
e) The penalty awarded was disproportionate, or not permitted, under the procedure. 

Appeals will be considered under the University’s Complaints and Appeals Process and must be made via email to the student complaints and appeals office within 10 working days of the hearing outcome being sent. 

If, after exhausting the Appeals Stage (for the responding student) or the Complaints process (for the complaining student), you remain dissatisfied with the University’s final decision, you can submit a complaint to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education.

The student that made the complaint:

If you made the complaint of misconduct, then you do not have a right of appeal against the outcome. However, if you feel that the procedure was not followed then you can consider raising a complaint through the University’s Complaints Procedure.

What support is available to me? What do I do if I need help and advice?

The University recognises that it can be a distressing time for any student involved with the disciplinary process; be that the reporting student, the responding student, as well as any witnesses or friends, and the University has a wide range of support services for students. Students will be signposted as appropriate by the member of staff that is working with them at any stage in the process.

The services are available to all students which can be accessed online (https://www.plymouth.ac.uk/student-life/services), over the telephone (01752 587676), via email (studentservices@plymouth.ac.uk) or visiting the Student Hub in person which is located by the entrance of the library on the main campus. Support is also available through the Student Union Advice Centre (https://www.upsu.com/advice).

Can someone accompany me to investigation meetings/disciplinary hearings?

You can be accompanied by a member of University staff, fellow student, a Dignity and Respect Advisor or a member of the Student Union Advice Centre for support.

Legal representation may be considered in cases relating to professional programmes where an outcome could be exclusion from the programme.

What happens if I don’t attend a disciplinary meeting?

If you do not attend a fact finding or investigation meeting or provide a statement, without good reason, then the matter will be decided upon based on the facts and evidence that has already been established.

Will a disciplinary stay on my student record? Will it be disclosed to a future employer?

Your student record will be updated to reflect an outcome of a formal disciplinary process if a penalty that has been imposed affects your student status i.e. suspension, exclusion from a programme of study or permanent exclusion from the University.

When the University receives a reference from a future employer, then the University will normally treat each request in relation to the professional standards of the employer that has made the request. i.e. any conduct matter that has resulted in any penalty will be disclosed in cases where the reference request has come a health or education provider

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