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UTS STUDENT RULES

Schedule 3 — Guidelines Relating to Student Misconduct and Appeals

1. Introduction

1.1 These guidelines have been prepared for the benefit of all people involved in the processes established by the University to deal with allegations of misconduct made against students and with appeals lodged by students against decisions arising from such allegations.

1.2 The guidelines are divided into four sections: this introduction, general principles, guidelines for inquiry bodies and guidelines for student misconduct appeals committees.

1.3 The term 'inquiry bodies' refers to the University Student Conduct Committees and Student Misconduct Appeals Committees, but also extends, as necessary, to the Vice-Chancellor, Vice-Chancellor's nominee, Provost, Responsible Academic Officer and the Director, Governance Support Unit.

1.4 Notwithstanding these sectional headings, the guidelines are designed for use by all who play some role in these processes and should be freely distributed to students and their advisers and academic and support staff who have a need for knowledge of student misconduct and appeal matters. In particular, they are to be given to all students at the time formal allegations of misconduct are made against them.

1.5 The guidelines take into account the University's Rules and procedures and the principles of procedural fairness.

2. General principles

2.1 All persons who are the subject of recommendations or decisions of others are entitled to be treated fairly, with dignity and with due regard to their privacy.

2.2 Persons are entitled to be regarded as not having behaved in an alleged manner until and unless they admit that behaviour or a fair and proper inquiry leads to a reasonable conclusion that they have so behaved.

2.3 Knowledge that a person has behaved in a particular way in the past is not evidence that the person has behaved in the same manner again. Such knowledge may be evidence that the person is aware that the behaviour is an act of misconduct (or it may be relevant to the level of penalty).

2.4 Each case must be dealt with on its own terms and merits and in accordance with its own circumstances.

3. Guidelines for inquiry bodies

3.1 Before any conclusion is reached in an inquiry into alleged misconduct by a student, the student must be:

  • given the precise terms of and any reasons for the allegation;
  • given an outline or summary of all details intended to be given to the inquiry body;
  • given access to or a copy of documentation intended to be given to the inquiry body; and
  • given an opportunity to address all the information supplied.

3.2 The inquiry body must ensure that the student has a clear understanding of the allegation, of the nature of the evidence in its support and of the process which the inquiry body intends to follow and of the student's rights with respect to that process. A copy of, or an electronic link to, these guidelines is to be given to the student at the time the student is formally made aware of the allegation.

3.3 The amount of detail that is given to the student is dependent upon the circumstances. Generally, a student's request for details and access to documents relating to allegations about that student should be met, except where the information being sought:

  • is an infringement upon the privacy of others;
  • may cause the safety of others to be at risk;
  • is irrelevant and/or excessive in amount.

3.4 The student must be given adequate time to prepare for the inquiry and to deal with the information provided. What is adequate depends upon the nature of the matter and the volume and complexity of the information.

3.5 The student must have an opportunity to seek advice. In some circumstances it may be appropriate for the University to make arrangements for advice to be given. The Director, Governance Support Unit may seek advice on the University's behalf at any stage. There may be a need for translating and/or interpreting services to be provided.

3.6 If the student fails to respond to reasonable attempts by the committee to communicate or does not provide the committee with acceptable reasons for not attending a hearing, the committee will make its own determination as to whether it will adjourn or proceed in the absence of the student.

3.7 The student's opportunity to address the information should be in person, in writing or both. The student should always have the option of having a friend or adviser present during any questioning or hearing. The inquiry body may place limitations on the role of a friend or adviser, for example, in some circumstances it may be appropriate for the student's friend or adviser to assist the investigating body by answering questions or addressing raised issues on the student's behalf. In most University circumstances, a friend or adviser present is not permitted by the inquiry body to act as an advocate or legal representative. Only in exceptional circumstances will legal representation be allowed.

3.8 The student may admit or deny the allegation, correct information as presented, provide an explanation, disclose mitigating factors or address the matters in other ways which the inquiry body finds relevant.

3.9 The student must be given the opportunity of calling other persons to provide evidence in support of the student's defence against the allegation and the student should be allowed to lead any such witnesses through their evidence.

3.10 During the course of a hearing, the student should be given an opportunity of questioning any witness or other person who has supplied information to the inquiry body. A right to question does not imply a right to harass.

3.11 A person whose evidence provided to the inquiry body is questioned should be given an opportunity to respond to such questions.

3.12 During the course of inquiry, neither the fact that there is an inquiry nor any information relating to it or to the student should be disclosed to people who do not have a legitimate reason to have such information. Accordingly, hearings are normally held in camera.

3.13 Without compromising the thoroughness of an inquiry it should take place without any unnecessary delays, taking into account the reasonable needs of the student to be properly prepared.

3.14 The inquiry body should take into account all of the relevant information it has before it except any information which the student has not had an opportunity of addressing.

3.15 Knowledge which the inquiry body has of any past offences or other misconduct committed by the student may be taken into account only:

  • as evidence that the student was aware that certain actions constitute misconduct; and
  • as one factor in the consideration of the level of penalty, if the inquiry body finds that the present allegation of misconduct is proven.

3.16 The student is entitled to be given the reasons for the decision and/or recommendation at the time it is made known to the student.

3.17 The inquiry body is responsible for determining who, in addition to the student and any other person as provided for in the Rules against whom the allegation was made, should receive formal notification of the decision and/or recommendation and the reasons for it. In making this determination, the inquiry body will take into account potentially conflicting needs of the student for privacy and of others who participated in the process and who may have ongoing responsibility for University courses or facilities. In circumstances where an alleged victim of a crime of violence or a nonforcible sex offence makes a written request, the University will disclose to the alleged victim any decision and/or recommendation and the reasons for it with respect to any disciplinary proceeding conducted by the University against a student who is the alleged perpetrator of such crime or offence with respect to such crime or offence. The inquiry body may impose conditions of confidentiality on any person who is so notified.

4. Guidelines for Student Misconduct Appeals Committees

4.1 Each Student Misconduct Appeals Committee will determine its own procedures consistent with these guidelines.

4.2 Where a student does not dispute a finding of an inquiry body, but appeals against the severity of a penalty imposed, the Student Misconduct Appeals Committee may decide to rehear the matter in full or to limit its work to a consideration of the penalty.

4.3 Where the Student Misconduct Appeals Committee finds it cannot discharge its responsibilities unless it rehears the matter in full (i.e. treats it as a fresh investigation), it shall do so. There may be circumstances that make it acceptable for a committee to confine itself to dealing afresh with points raised by the student in any stated grounds for the appeal.

4.4 The student is free to raise questions of process and/or merit with respect to the original inquiry. The student may repeat, correct or otherwise amend points made at the original inquiry, provide further explanation, disclose additional mitigating factors or address the matters in other ways which the committee finds relevant. If the student advances new evidence, the committee may hear the appeal or refer the matter to the original inquiry body.

4.5 The student must be given reasonable time to prepare an appeal based upon stated reasons for the original decision.

4.6 The student must have an opportunity to seek advice; in some circumstances it may be appropriate for the University to make arrangements for advice to be given. There may be a need for translating and/or interpreting services to be provided.

4.7 The student's opportunity to address the information should be in person, in writing or both. The student should always have the option of having a friend or adviser present during any hearing. The committee may determine any limitations that may be placed on the role of a friend or adviser present at a hearing. For example, in some circumstances it may be appropriate for the student's friend or adviser to assist the committee by answering questions or addressing raised issues on the student's behalf. In most University circumstances, any friend or adviser present need not be permitted by the committee to act as an advocate or legal representative. Only in exceptional circumstances will legal representation be allowed.

4.8 If the committee considers that a student has an acceptable reason for being unable to attend a hearing (e.g. an international student who has returned home during a vacation period), the committee may permit the student to nominate a representative to attend. The committee may permit the student to use telecommunication facilities to participate in all or part of a hearing, if such facilities are readily available at reasonable cost, or may adjourn for a reasonable time until the student is available.

4.9 If the student fails to respond to reasonable attempts by the committee to communicate or does not provide the committee with acceptable reasons for not attending a hearing, the committee will make its own determination as to whether it will adjourn or proceed in the absence of the student.

4.10 The Student Misconduct Appeals Committee determines the order of presentation, i.e. whether the student should open (by presenting a case for the overturning of the original finding and/or penalty) or whether the University should commence the appeal proceedings (by defending the decision of the inquiry body). The nature of the appeal and its circumstances are the determining factors.

4.11 In presenting the appeal case, the student is normally to be given the opportunity of calling other persons to provide evidence in support of the appeal and the student should be allowed to lead any such witnesses through their evidence in which case the appeal may proceed by way of rehearing afresh.

4.12 During the course of a hearing, the student should be given an opportunity of questioning any witness or other person who is giving evidence to the committee. A right to question does not imply a right to harass.

4.13 The recommendation or decision against which the appeal is being made will be supported by the Director, Governance Support Unit (or nominee). The person providing this support must also be given adequate time to prepare.

4.14 Provided it is relevant to the approach taken by the committee, a person whose information given at the earlier inquiry is being questioned at the appeal, should be given an opportunity to respond to such questions.

4.15 The committee may appoint advisers as it deems appropriate but it will not commit itself to expenditure without the Director, Governance Support Unit's agreement. The Director, Governance Support Unit may also seek advice on the University's behalf at any stage of an appeal process.

4.16 During the course of an appeal, neither the fact that there has been an inquiry and there is now an appeal, nor any information relating to them or to the student, should be disclosed to people who do not have a legitimate reason to have such information. Accordingly, hearings are normally held in camera.

4.17 Without compromising the appeal's thoroughness, it should take place without any unnecessary delays, taking into account the reasonable needs of people involved to be properly prepared.

4.18 The Student Misconduct Appeals Committee should take into account all of the relevant information it has before it except any information which the student has not been given an opportunity of addressing.

4.19 Knowledge that the Student Misconduct Appeals Committee has of any past offences or other misconduct committed by the student may be taken into account only:

  • as evidence that the student was aware that certain actions constitute misconduct; and
  • as one factor in the consideration of the level of penalty, if the Student Misconduct Appeals Committee finds that the allegation of misconduct, the decision on which is currently under appeal, is proven.

4.20 The Student Misconduct Appeals Committee has the following options:

4.20.1 it may, for any reason, refer a matter back to the inquiry body for further inquiry and decision;

4.20.2 it may uphold an appeal against a finding that the student has committed an act of misconduct, in which case any penalty imposed shall be nullified;

4.20.3 it may uphold an appeal against the severity of a penalty and reduce it to a lesser penalty from among those provided in the Rules;

4.20.4 it may dismiss an appeal against a finding that the student has committed an act of misconduct but determine that the penalty should be reduced to a lesser one from among those provided in the Rules;

4.20.5 it may dismiss the appeal.

If the Student Misconduct Appeals Committee chooses the option in Rule 4.20.1, the Director, Governance Support Unit will notify the Student Misconduct Appeals Committee Chair of the result of the inquiry body's reconsideration and whether or not it has been accepted by the student. If the student requests it, the Student Misconduct Appeals Committee will reconvene to hear the appeal.

4.21 The student is entitled to be given the reasons for the appeal decision at the time the decision is made known to the student.

4.22 The Student Misconduct Appeals Committee is responsible for determining who, in addition to the appellant student, should receive formal notification of the result of the appeal and the reasons for it. In making this determination, the committee will take into account potentially conflicting needs of the student for privacy and of others who participated in the process and who may have ongoing responsibility for University courses or facilities. The Student Misconduct Appeals Committee may impose conditions of confidentiality on any person who is so notified.