Breaches of Student Discipline
The University expects all students to maintain acceptable standards of behaviour at all times within the University community and not to damage the University’s reputation. The University may decide to investigate any behaviour which they consider falls below acceptable standards and is in breach of the Student Code of Conduct and Regulations on Student Discipline.
Below are some examples of what is considered unacceptable behaviour. This could be where a student:
- Behaves in such as violent, offensive, riotous, disorderly, grossly offensive or inappropriate way, including sexual violence and hate crime.
- attempts to gain unfair advantage in any formal assessment, for example, through plagiarism, collusion, or cheating
- disrupts or improperly interferes with the academic, administrative, social or other activities of the University or with the functions, duties or activities of any student, member of staff or visitor
- contravenes the University’s policy on the prevention of harassment, to include sexual harassment and hate crime
- assaults another person
- prevents the University from carrying out its due responsibilities
- wilfully or negligently defaces, injures or harms the property of the University or of an institution attended as part of a University course
- refuses to make good damage done in the University or elsewhere
- falsifies or misuses University records, including falsification of evidence of mitigation
- disregards any Ordinance, Regulation, or Code of Practice governing the conduct or obligations of students in any part of the University
- is convicted of an offence or accepts a police caution
- engages in conduct prejudicial to the good order, safety, operation and discipline of the University, its students, staff and visitors
- commits fraud including identity and/or student finance fraud
- misuses, or uses in an unauthorised way, the University’s intellectual property (including the sale of essays or other work produced by Aston University students as part of their programme of study)
- behaves in such a way as to bring the University into disrepute
- is enrolled on the basis of a fraudulent application
How to make a complaint about another student
If you wish to make a complaint about the conduct of another student you may find it helpful to first discuss the matter with your Personal Tutor (who may be able to resolve the matter informally) and/or our service the Advice and Representation Centre in the Students' Union for advice by phone 0121 204 4848 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you wish to pursue the matter formally you will need to provide information about the matter to the University Discipline Officer Gemma Dawson (G.DAWSON@aston.ac.uk). Gemma will arrange for your complaint to be investigated and any appropriate, subsequent action to be taken.
What should I do if concerns are raised about my conduct?
If you are contacted by the University to attend a meeting in relation to any allegations or any concerns relating to your conduct or behaviour, we strongly advise you to contact us via email@example.com for advice as soon as possible.
The University’s student discipline regulations and processes can be difficult to understand and there can be serious consequences. Don’t wait until it’s too late. The sooner you contact us the better placed we are to provide you with the best advice right from the beginning.
Request further information
If you are unsure about what the issue relates to you should request detailed information about the allegations or concerns being raised. This can include the following:
- Details about the reason for the meeting including the time, date and location that any incident/concern took place.
- A copy of all of the relevant documentation such as statements or reports made or received by the University in relation to this matter.
- When you can expect to receive all of the relevant evidence and documentation regarding this matter
Writing a draft statement
Once you have the detailed information about the allegations or concerns, you should try to write a draft statement to help you to respond to respond. Although a statement might not be required it will help you to think carefully about your response and prepare for any meetings. This should be an honest and reflective statement that includes:
- A timeline of events covering when any incident occurred including what happened leading up to any incident and at the end of any incident.
We can review your statement and provide feedback. Once you have received detailed information about the allegations from the University, you will be able to fully respond to their concerns.
Before submitting any statements, we would strongly advise you to contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org for advice.
Attend the meeting
You will usually be invited to attend a meeting to discuss the allegations. We would strongly advise attending as this will give you the best opportunity to understand the University’s concerns and respond to the allegations. If you would like someone to accompany to the meeting to provide representation please let us know.
A precautionary exclusion from classes or any part of the University may also be imposed if the alleged conduct is considered to pose a serious and immediate risk to the health and safety of yourself and/or others at the University. This exclusion may last until the end of the disciplinary process. You should be informed of this in person and writing as well as your right to appeal. Please email us via email@example.com for advice is you are excluded from the University and ensure that you follow the University’s instructions regarding your exclusion.
Allegations of breaches in student discipline are initially handled by an Authorised Officer or the University Discipline Officer who will contact you as part of their investigation. You would usually be invited to a meeting to establish the facts of the case. You have the right to attend any meeting(s) with a representative (such as one of our advisors) to represent you at the meeting. You would need to inform the University in advance of anyone accompanying you.
At the end of the investigation they will decide whether to charge you with being in breach of discipline. If you are not charged no further action will be taken.
If you are charged with breaching student discipline
You should be informed in writing of the details of the alleged offence, given the option of having your case heard by the Disciplinary Board, and an opportunity of defending yourself.
You will also be asked whether you admit or deny the charge:
- If you admit the charge, an Authorised Officer will usually invite you to a meeting to provide further information and evidence relating to your charge. The Authorised Discipline Officer will then determine the severity of the offence and appropriate penalty. In serious cases the Authorised Officer can request via the University Discipline Officer that the case be referred to the Disciplinary Board.
- If you deny the charge, do not wish to answer at this time or do not respond, your case will be referred to a Disciplinary Board to hear your case in defence of the charge and the University’s case in support of the charge, including evidence from invigilators or other witnesses, where appropriate. The Disciplinary Board will determine whether the charge is proven and, if so, determine an appropriate penalty (see page 17 of the Regulations on Student Discipline).
University Disciplinary Board Hearing Process
If your case is referred to the University Disciplinary Board. You can be accompanied by a representative and a friend.
In such an event, you would be sent an invitation at least 21 days before the hearing. You would be required to answer the charge in writing at least ten days before the hearing date by either admitting, denying or challenging it as not being properly brought. If you do not respond, the case would proceed as if you were denying the charge. Any written statements or details of witnesses or representatives usually needs to be provided at least 10 days before the hearing. The case documentation including any reports the University have made about your case is usually sent to you approximately 7 days before the date of the hearing. It is helpful to send a written statement and any relevant mitigation in advance but you can read a statement and provide evidence on the day at the hearing if you prefer to wait until you have seen all of the case documentation.
During the Hearing
The Disciplinary Board will consist of at least a Chair, an academic and a student from the Students’ Union. They will sit opposite you and if you don’t accept the charge they will first hear from the University Presenter who will present the case against you. You will then be given the opportunity to provide your own statement and defend yourself against any allegations. The Board can ask questions before they make their decision in private.
If the Board finds the charge to be proven on the balance of probabilities, or if you have admitted the charge, you will have the opportunity to mention any mitigating circumstances either personally or through your representative before any penalty is determined. However, please note the following:
- The Board is unlikely to accept mitigation when considering a repeat offence of (i) plagiarism, (ii) collusion or (iii) cheating.
- The Board can also take into account any aggravating factors including but not limited to premeditation, previous offences and the impact on others and the University’s reputation.
The Board has a wide range of penalties available and will choose one depending on the severity of the offence and any mitigating or aggravating factors they deem relevant. The penalties range from a warning to expulsion (see page 16 of Regulations on Student Discipline) and they will either tell you the outcome on the day and/or by writing usually within 5 working days.
Appealing a decision
If you were dissatisfied with the decision or the penalty you have the right to appeal against the penalty within 10 days of the date of being notified of the decision otherwise the penalty will stand. If you admitted the charge you can only appeal against the penalty. An appeal can be made if you wish to appeal in mitigation of penalties imposed by Authorised Officer or the decision and/or penalty in a case initially heard by the Disciplinary Board.
However in order for any appeal to be considered you must demonstrate how it falls into one of the following categories:
- procedural irregularity of a material nature, including the commission of an error during the disciplinary hearing;
- new evidence material to the case which the student can demonstrate was for good reason not previously available.
Any appeal would be made to the Secretary of the Disciplinary Appeals Committee and must explain in writing how you meet one or both of the grounds of appeal within 10 days of being notified of the decision.
Please contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org for more advice if you are considering appealing.
How we can help
- We can help you understand the allegations and the evidence provided by the University
- Provide advice on the options available and the possible consequences
- We can provide feedback on any statement you wish to submit in response to the allegations
- We can accompany you to meetings or hearings and provide representation
- We can advise on the options available if you are unhappy with the outcome of your case
More information on the process for dealing with disciplinary offences can be found in the Regulations on Student Discipline. Information on the potential penalties for most academic offences can be found in the attached Tariff of Penalties. Disciplinary Board penalties can be found on page 17 of the Regulations on Student Discipline. Rules regarding your conduct in exams can be found in the Examination Regulations.