The University may take disciplinary action against students in cases where misconduct has occurred. Examples might include the use of unfair means in the assessment process (e.g. plagiarism or collusion), misconduct in the community, aggressive or fraudulent/dishonest behaviour.
Following an initial investigation, a student may be referred to a Discipline Committee or Discipline Chairman, either of whom have the power to impose a range of penalties under the Discipline Regulations. The University's Investigating Officer also has powers to respond to student misconduct, under the Disciplinary Administrative Procedure, as does the Director of Accommodation and Commercial Services (ACS), in accommodation owned or managed by the University. See also the Regulations on the Use of Computing Facilities, the Library, General Regulation 24 concerning Ethics Approval and the Students' Union bylaws.
On the rare occasions that students are required to serve a prison/custodial sentence, consideration needs to be given to taking disciplinary action when the student returns to their studies.
A student may appeal against a disciplinary decision on grounds specified in the Regulations, within 15 working days of the letter of notification.
The Student Conduct & Appeals Team
|Advice for Students
The Student Advice Centre can advise a student on their position.
|Regulations and Procedures
Click on the Regulations as to the Discipline of Students for the relevant academic year in the University Calendar.
Report of Misconduct Form
Interview Notes Template
Guidance for Staff on the Use of Unfair Means in the Assessment Process
|Managing Inappropriate Behaviour
Guidelines for Managing Inappropriate Behaviour by Service Users
- These Guidelines set out the University’s approach to managing incidents where a service user (eg a student) exhibits behaviour which is considered unacceptable and inappropriate by the person engaging with them (whether by means of face to face contact, telephone, email, social networking or any other form of communication).
- Examples of inappropriate behaviour might include angry, demanding, coercive or persistent customers who might be exhibiting unusual behaviours (even in the most subtle of ways), incidents of verbal or physical assault (eg shouting/swearing or pushing staff), harassment (eg an unacceptable number of visits/telephone calls/emails or inappropriate comments).
- The University expects service users to treat staff with courtesy. This expectation is in line with the right of staff to carry out their normal work duties in a safe environment.
- The University considers it important to make service users aware that inappropriate behaviour is not acceptable.
- It is acknowledged that service users (eg students) will at certain times be under stress, for example from academic pressures, personal and medical difficulties and that they may act out of character at times. Staff may also need to be aware of any cultural issues.
- The University reserves the right, where certain behaviour is considered to be unacceptable, to put on hold, restrict or withdraw access to various services for example by restricting access to various parts of the University campus (but not normally the University Health Service or the Counselling Service) or not progressing an appeal or complaint. Information about unacceptable behaviour may be passed on to other departments or external organisations as appropriate (in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998 and other relevant legislation).
How to Manage Inappropriate Action or Behaviour
- It is entirely appropriate for a member of staff to indicate that they find certain behaviour unacceptable and bring a meeting or phone call to a close, first warning the customer that they intend to do so. It would also be appropriate for staff to reserve the right not to accept phone calls under certain circumstances.
- Alternatively, support might be sought from a colleague or line manager if the member of staff recognizes that they can’t deal with the situation themselves. Panic alarms are available in certain areas and security staff may be alerted in case of need.
- Persistent inappropriate behaviour needs to be managed differently, for example by means of working out a longer term plan for interacting with a user. Drawing up an agreement (setting out examples of acceptable behaviour) might be appropriate in certain circumstances, with a view to taking positive action to change behaviours. Suspending any interaction with a user, withdrawing services or restricting access to certain parts of the campus will only take place after consultation with relevant senior members of staff. A written explanation will also be sent to the user. In certain circumstances, action under the Harassment Guidelines or the Regulations as to the Discipline of Students might be considered.
- A Notice of Inappropriate Behaviour may be issued to a student who is deemed to be behaving inappropriately. Guidelines for using the Notice can be found below. Notices can be obtained from the Critical Support Team on email@example.com.
- If there are concerns about a student’s health, advice might be sought from the relevant members of staff (e.g. a Mental Health Adviser).
- Staff should make a record of any incident, noting the main action points and keeping their line manager and other relevant staff informed of the situation.
- A member of staff who has been subject to an incident involving inappropriate behaviour may need the opportunity to talk about the situation afterwards with colleagues. Other means of support (such as counselling) might also be accessed, to allow closure of the incident.
- Training in dealing with difficult circumstances is provided by Human Resources within their staff development programme. External training programmes are also available.
Guidelines for using the Notice of Inappropriate Behaviour
The Notice of Inappropriate Behaviour is an additional tool which can be used within the above guidance. Training is provided through the Supporting the Supporters programme www.shef.ac.uk/ssd/support/training. This training can be tailored for individual departments and services as required.
- Either academic or service departments may hand the Notice to a student who is deemed to be behaving inappropriately. Guidance can be sought from the Critical Support Team when coming to a decision about whether or not to issue a Notice in a certain situation.
- The level at which behaviour is deemed to be inappropriate and necessitates this card being issued to a student has to be judged by the individual involved (in consultation with others as appropriate). As a guide it is expected that one or more of the following applies:
- Further communication at that point is no longer productive.
- A colleague needs to be alerted to help manage the situation.
- A senior member of staff needs to be involved with discussions about a particular incident.
- The behaviour is ongoing, coercive or persistent.
- Any member of the University (staff or students) feels intimidated and/or worried about their own well-being.
- Consideration is being given to involving Security Services, to help manage the situation.
- Consideration is being given to put on hold, restrict or withdraw access to services, for example by restricting access to various parts of the University campus.
- The Notice may be used, alongside verbal guidance, as a way of helping draw a difficult situation to a close. However, issuing the Notice may not de-escalate a potentially volatile situation, and could actually make it worse. It may therefore be appropriate at times to issue the Notice at a later point, and this perhaps could be done by the Critical Support Team in Student Services.
- When a Notice has been issued to a student the member of staff should contact the Critical Support Team on firstname.lastname@example.org, and provide the name of the student, registration number, the time and date the Notice has been issued and a brief summary of any relevant incident and the inappropriate behaviour involved.
- When advised that a Notice has been issued the Critical Support Team will:
- Contact the student advising that the Support Team are aware of the incident/behaviour and to offer support if required (considering any well-being and cultural issues).
- Contact colleagues advising them that a Notice has been issued, where appropriate, including (but not limited to) the academic Head of Department, Taught Programmes Office, Student Conduct and Appeals Office, Security Services and Accommodation and Commercial Services (if the student is in University owned or managed student accommodation). Colleagues will be asked to note that the Critical Support Team is the main point of contact.
- Provide information on harassment procedures and the Discipline Regulations as necessary.
- Put a case note on the student’s record.
- Teams/sections/departments may wish to record the incident locally.
- If a member of the University feels that the safety of any member of staff is at risk then Security Services should be contacted on 24085 or in emergencies 4444.
- The record that a Notice has been issued and the details of an incident may be used as evidence in any future discipline case.
The University has an obligation to investigate and respond to concerns of potential research misconduct on the part of both staff and students. Unacceptable research and innovation practices are defined on the Research Services web page in the Good Research and Innovation Practices (GRIP) Policy.
Where there are concerns of potential research misconduct on the part of a student, these will need to be investigated and action may be taken under the University's Regulations as to the Discipline of Students; General Regulations as to Progress of Students; and the General Regulations relating to Student Fitness to Practise.
The University's Regulations relating to Intellectual Property, Regulations on the Use of Computing Facilities and Regulations relating to the Library may also be of relevance.
Lindsay Unwin of Research Services (email@example.com), and Sally Sutton of Student Conduct and Appeals (firstname.lastname@example.org / Tel Ext. 29622), can be contacted for further guidance.
A student may seek to raise concerns about research misconduct on the part of a member of staff, either with another member of staff direct or through the Academic Appeals Procedure or the Student Complaints Procedure. Such concerns should be referred to the Head of Department in the first instance, who should report them to the Faculty lead in the Department of Human Resources for consideration in line with the Investigating and Responding to Allegations of Research Misconduct Policy outlined in the Research Misconduct Toolkit.