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UTS STUDENT RULES

Schedule 4 — Guidelines on Determining an Appropriate Penalty for Instances of Student Misconduct

These guidelines have been prepared to assist all those involved in recommending, imposing and reviewing penalties for instances of misconduct, including the Vice-Chancellor, Vice-Chancellor's nominee, Responsible Academic Officers, University Student Conduct Committee, and Student Misconduct Appeals Committee.

The information contained in these guidelines may also be useful for academic and administrative staff dealing generally with cases of misconduct, as well as for any student subject to an allegation of misconduct.

The guidelines are structured as follows:

1. Principles

2. Scale of penalties

3. Issues specific to each type of penalty

4. Differential effects of penalties

5. Admissions of wrongdoing/level of contrition of student

6. Intent

7. Start/end dates of penalties

8. Status of student pending appeal outcomes

9. Timing of decisions

10. Records of misconduct on transcripts

While these guidelines provide general parameters for determining penalties, the appropriate penalty for an instance of misconduct ultimately must depend on the facts found in each case, and a body is free to depart from the principles set out in these guidelines where the facts indicate that such a course is appropriate. The appropriate penalty remains at the discretion of the body imposing it given that the circumstances of an instance of misconduct and the student present an almost infinite variety from case to case.

1. Principles

In recommending and/or determining an appropriate penalty for a proven instance of misconduct, an inquiry body and/or decision-maker must take into account:

(1) the nature and context of the misconduct, including:

  • the objective circumstances of the misconduct (the facts in relation to the gravity of the misconduct itself) in order to gauge an appreciation of the seriousness of the misconduct;
  • the subjective circumstances of the student (aggravating and mitigating factors relating to the student rather than to the misconduct);

(2) whether a student has admitted the misconduct, and/or has come forward of his or her own accord;

(3) whether intent can be proven;

(4) the student's expression of remorse or apology (where relevant);

(5) the student's past conduct (refer 3.15 in Schedule 3 Guidelines Relating to Student Misconduct and Appeals). The nature and extent of a student's previous record of misconduct should be considered in all cases;

(6) penalties imposed for previous similar cases to ensure consistency in decision-making;

(7) the consequences of the penalty for the individual student (refer Section 4 (Differential effects of penalties)).

2. Scale of penalties

This scale provides a guide as to the normal, minimum and maximum penalties for specific cases of misconduct and the circumstances in which specific penalties are appropriate. This scale is not intended to be prescriptive and the Vice-Chancellor or Vice-Chancellor's nominee, Responsible Academic Officers or committees may need to adjust the penalty in individual cases according to the circumstances of that particular case. The penalties are generally graded according to severity, although it should be noted that some penalties are only appropriate for specific types of misconduct (e.g. fines can only apply to some forms of misconduct).

Penalty Rule Examples of types of instances of misconduct
Rescission of an academic award conferred by the University where the award is as a result of fraud or serious misconduct committed by the student before the award was conferred 16.3.1(1)
  • very serious instances of misconduct, including fraud and which may or may not involve serious criminal behaviour
  • extensive plagiarism in a research thesis or major project found proven after the award has been conferred
Revocation of a recommendation to Academic Board or the University Council that a student has satisfied the requirements for an award 16.3.1(2)
  • fraud
  • major plagiarism or misconduct in a subject that has been determined to have satisfied requirements for the relevant award
Permanent exclusion from the University 16.3.1(3) Very serious instances of misconduct, which may involve serious criminal behaviour and serious repeat instances of misconduct.
Exclusion from the University for a period of up to five years 16.3.1(4)
  • fraud
  • impersonation
  • alteration of any document or record of the University
  • serious damage to University property or misuse of University facilities
  • serious disruption to University activities
  • serious misconduct including extensive plagiarism, exam misconduct
  • repeat cases of misconduct
  • failure to comply with any penalty imposed for an instance of misconduct or failure to comply with any condition agreed with the Vice-Chancellor under Rule 2.1.9
  • dishonesty in relation to admission to the University
  • inappropriate behaviour including harassment, intimidation or interference with the freedom of other persons at the University
Suspension from the University for a specified period not exceeding 12 months 16.3.1(5)
  • fraud
  • damage to University property or misuse of University facilities
  • disruption to University activities and/or freedom of other persons
  • misconduct including plagiarism, exam misconduct
  • repeat cases of misconduct
  • failure to comply with any penalty imposed for an instance of misconduct
Suspension from a course of the University for a specified period not exceeding 12 months 16.3.1(6)
  • misconduct including plagiarism, exam misconduct, repeated cheating in assessment
  • repeat cases of misconduct
Withholding of academic results for the relevant teaching period, and/or official academic records, including deferral or withdrawal of permission to graduate 16.3.1(7) Imposed when instance of misconduct occurs in the student's final teaching period before graduation, usually imposed in conjunction with suspension, or results are withheld until fines or costs are paid.
Imposing conditions on enrolment and participation in specified subjects for a specified period not exceeding 12 months; during which time if there is a further instance of misconduct, the Vice-Chancellor or Vice-Chancellor's nominee shall refer the matter to the University Student Conduct Committee for a recommendation on the imposition of a more severe penalty. 16.3.1(8)
  • inappropriate behaviour
  • damage to University property
  • misuse of facilities
If the misconduct relates to a subject in which the student is enrolled:

  • a reduction in marks for any part or parts of the assessment
  • a zero mark/fail result for the results of any form or forms of assessment in the subject
  • a requirement that the student re-do and submit a specific assessment task, with a reduction in marks to no more than a specified percentage of the maximum possible mark in the assessment task
  • a requirement that the student must undertake another alternative assessment, for which the maximum possible mark can be no greater than a specified percentage, normally 50 per cent, of the maximum possible mark in the assessment task
  • a zero mark/fail result for subject.
16.3.1(9) Misconduct (e.g. plagiarism, cheating) in relation to a subject in which the student is enrolled.

Should take into account:

  • extent of plagiarism
  • advice to student on referencing
  • stage of course (students in second or subsequent years will be expected to have more understanding of what constitutes plagiarism compared to students in first year).
Exclusion from attendance at specified classes or subjects for a specified period not exceeding 12 months, provided that these do not include the entirety of classes or subjects for which the student is enrolled or is eligible to be enrolled 16.3.1(10) Inappropriate behaviour including harassment, intimidation or interference with the freedom of other persons in classes or subjects, meetings or other activities.
Exclusion from and prohibition from use of specified facilities of the University for a specified period not exceeding 12 months 16.3.1(11) Misuse of facilities on University premises, such as the Library or IT labs, or any other premises to which the student has access for his or her University purposes.
Where the misconduct involves loss of or damage to property or facilities of the University or a third party, payment to the University or the third party of a specified amount not exceeding the amount of the loss or damage 16.3.1(12) Misconduct involving loss of/or damage to property or facilities of the University or to a third party.

Payment for loss or damages is not a fine. The amount sought as restitution cannot exceed the amount of the loss or damages.
Where the misconduct involves lengthy inquiries and proceedings, payment to the University of a specified amount for its costs, not exceeding the amount of the costs incurred 16.3.1(13) Misconduct involving lengthy inquiries and proceedings. Payment is required to cover the costs of the expense incurred by the University during lengthy inquiries and proceedings in relation to misconduct. The amount sought is not a fine. It cannot exceed the costs incurred by the University in relation to the inquiries and proceedings.
A fine of up to $5000 with maximum fines for particular types of offences 16.3.1(14) Misconduct including:

  • inappropriate behaviour
  • damage to University property
  • misuse of facilities
  • wilfully disobeying direction
  • library offences
  • (refer 3.6 Monetary penalties)
Imposition of specified conditions on attendance at specified classes or use of specified facilities or services of the University 16.3.1(15) Inappropriate behaviour in a class, meeting or other activity, and/or misuse of facilities on University premises or any other premises to which the student has access for his or her University purposes.
Reprimand 16.3.1(16)
  • first minor instance of misconduct
  • usually imposed with other penalties
  • any future instance of misconduct will be treated most seriously and will result in a more severe penalty

3. Issues specific to each type of penalty

3.1 Exclusion from the University

Refer Rule 16.3.1(4)

If a student is re-admitted to a course following a period of exclusion from the University, the student may be required to apply for credit recognition, i.e. for the subjects completed prior to the period of exclusion.

3.2 Exclusion from specified class/specified facility

Refer Rules 16.3.1(10) and 16.3.1(11)

A student who is excluded from specified classes or facilities may not be able to complete certain assessment tasks and this may impact on their final result for the subject.

3.3 Suspension from the University

Refer Rule 16.3.1(5)

Students who are suspended from the University for a specified period not exceeding 12 months will retain any credit points gained prior to the period of suspension.

3.4 Suspension from a course of the University

Refer Rule 16.3.1(6)

Students who are suspended from a course of the University will retain any credit points gained prior to the period of suspension. They may apply for admission to another course of the University during the period of suspension, except for non-award study in subjects that could be subsequently counted as exemptions towards the course from which they have been suspended.

3.5 Withholding of results/academic transcript/ permission to graduate

Refer Rule 16.3.1(7)

Students whose results are withheld may not be able to proceed to the next stage of their course and it may impact on their employment situation or applications for admission to courses at other institutions. Students whose official academic records are withheld or who are not permitted to graduate may not be able to apply for admission to other courses, or may be limited in their employment opportunities. These penalties usually apply when a student is in, or has completed, their final teaching period before graduation. The penalties are usually imposed in conjunction with suspension and/or the withholding of results until fines or costs are paid.

3.6 Monetary penalties

  • Rules 16.3.1(12) and 16.3.1(13)
    These Rules enable the University to seek restitution for costs incurred in lengthy inquiries or proceedings or costs associated with loss and/or damage. These penalties are not fines. Fines are penalties imposed for the act of misconduct itself.
  • Rule 16.3.1(14)
    This Rule enables a reasonable monetary fine to be assessed. This penalty could be applied in conjunction with others such as Rules 16.3.1(12) and 16.3.1(13).

Fines may be appropriate for incidents such as:

  • inappropriate and/or disruptive behaviour on campus (up to $1000 maximum);
  • contravening prescribed standards of acceptable conduct (up to $1000 maximum);
  • endangering the safety and/or security of people and/or property (up to $2000 maximum);
  • ignoring or disobeying a directive from a University Officer (up to $500 maximum);
  • refusing to identify oneself (up to $100 maximum);
  • allowing another person access to UTS email or computer account and facilities (up to $500 maximum with increase to $1000 for repeat offences);
  • damage and destruction where the costs cannot be adequately measured for the purposes of cost recovery (e.g. destruction of intellectual property through hacking or destroying a computer which has other persons' work on it) (up to $5000);
  • library offences (up to $150 per offence with upper limit of $250 for repeat offence).

When considering fines as an effective and appropriate penalty for instances of misconduct, the following factors should be taken into account:

  • A fine can only be imposed for certain forms of misconduct. A fine cannot be imposed for misconduct involving only plagiarism.
  • A student's financial capability must be considered in imposing a fine; and where appropriate extensions of time to pay may be granted by the Director, Governance Support Unit.

3.7 Awarding of zero marks

Refer Rule 16.3.1(9)

When considering a penalty under Rule 16.3.1(9), it should be noted that if a student is awarded zero for any assessment item, it is unlikely that the student will be able to satisfactorily complete the subject for which the assessment task is set.

3.8 Conditions on enrolment

Refer Rule 16.3.1(8)

If conditions are imposed upon a student's enrolment and participation in specified subjects, this may impact on the student's ability to complete the course within a specified time period. This penalty may impose conditions on enrolment in certain subjects involving use of a laboratory, for example, or enrolment in subjects involving use of other facilities.

4. Differential effects of penalties

When imposing penalties, it is important that each student's individual circumstances, stage of enrolment and any relevant mitigating factors are taken into account. University Student Conduct Committees, Student Misconduct Appeals Committees, the Vice-Chancellor or Vice-Chancellor's nominee and Responsible Academic Officers may encourage students to make representation or submit evidence on the detrimental impacts of specific penalties in individual cases.

Some examples of situations in which penalties may impact more harshly include:

  • Penalties of suspension or exclusion for international students
    A penalty of suspension or exclusion may impact more severely on an international student because of visa requirements which stipulate that a student must leave the country if not enrolled. There are also additional financial costs involved for international students who must reapply for a visa following a period of suspension or exclusion and pay additional course fees. In appropriate circumstances, an alternative may be to consider penalties where an international student can complete course requirements prior to the penalty coming into effect. As an example, a student facing a period of suspension (to take effect at a specified time in the future) would be able to complete the course requirements, but, at the end of their course, the period of suspension would take effect and the student would be prevented from graduating, unable to access any academic results and official academic records.
  • Stage of enrolment
    Most penalties will have a greater impact on students in their final teaching period when they are applying for jobs or for admission to graduate courses or registration/admission to professional bodies.
  • Financial penalties
    Severe monetary penalties will have a greater impact on some international students and on students from economically disadvantaged groups.
  • Professional bodies
    Certain penalties will have an impact on students who may wish to apply for registration/admission to professional bodies.

5. Admissions of wrongdoing/level of contrition of student

If a student has admitted the misconduct, and/or displays a high and genuine level of contrition for the misconduct, this may be taken into account where appropriate.

(1) The notice of penalty, the reasons and committee reports should explicitly state that the admission of wrongdoing and/or statement of contrition have been taken into account. Failure to do so would generally be taken to indicate that the admission or level of contrition was not given weight.

(2) The effect of admission or level of contrition on the penalty should be stated insofar as it is appropriate to do so. This effect could encompass any or all of the matters to which the admission or level of contrition may be relevant. Where other matters are regarded as relevant in a particular case, e.g. assistance to authorities, this should be included in the report or notice of decision and penalty.

(3) An admission of wrongdoing or statement of contrition should generally be assessed in relation to the seriousness of the misconduct. One consideration is the timing of the admission or statement of contrition. Another factor is the potential time saved by University staff to undertake investigations and attend hearings. The relevance of an early admission will vary according to the circumstances of the case.

(4) In some cases the admission or statement of contrition, in combination with other relevant factors, could lead to a degree of leniency in relation to the type of the penalties imposed. In some cases the weight given to the admission or statement of contrition will be significant in assessing parity between other students involved in the misconduct.

6. Intent

If a student is found to have acted with intent when committing an act of misconduct, the penalty imposed on that student should be more severe than in a case where intent cannot be proven.

7. Start/end dates of penalties

Penalties usually come into effect from the date of notification of the penalty to the student and last until the last day of the relevant teaching period. In determining penalties, it is preferable that start and end dates are specified on a teaching period basis (e.g. first day of teaching period to the last day of teaching period). It is important to consider the effective dates of penalties, as a penalty specified by dates as opposed to teaching periods may have the unintended consequence of preventing a student enrolling in the teaching period following the period of penalty.

8. Status of student pending appeal outcomes

Under Rule 16.15.4, a student may apply to the Vice-Chancellor or Vice-Chancellor's nominee for a stay of decision. The Vice-Chancellor or Vice-Chancellor's nominee may direct that a decision be stayed until the time for making an appeal has expired or, if an appeal is made within the permitted time, until the appeal has been determined.

In such cases the Vice-Chancellor or Vice-Chancellor's nominee will determine the status of the student during the appeal process; in other words, whether the student is to be on a restricted or conditional provisional program. This may include provisional class attendance, restricted attendance on campus, conditional use of University facilities, enrolment in online subjects, leave of absence and so on.

The following criteria will be considered in determining whether to grant a stay of decision and the student's status during the appeal process:

  • student's reasoning for requesting the stay of decision;
  • whether it is appropriate given the nature and seriousness of the misconduct to approve a stay of decision;
  • whether there is a need to implement the penalty immediately to ensure the protection of other person(s) and/or facilities and property of University;
  • an assessment of the likelihood of a successful appeal against the finding of misconduct and the penalty and, if the penalty includes payment of compensation to a third party under Rule 16.3.1(12), the capacity of the third party to repay the student if the penalty is nullified on appeal.

9. Timing of decisions

It is most important that decisions regarding penalties for misconduct and subsequent appeals are handled as expeditiously as possible to prevent lengthy delays and consequent applications by students for special consideration due to potential disadvantage. As a general guide, reports of the University Student Conduct Committee or Student Misconduct Appeals Committee can be expected within six weeks from the date of the conclusion of the committee’s first meeting.

10. Records of misconduct on transcripts

  • For suspensions and exclusions from a course or from the University the official academic transcript shows the period of suspension or exclusion.
  • A penalty of zero mark for a subject is shown on official academic records in the same way as other results.
  • All other penalties are recorded on the student system as internal comments and will only be shown on internal academic records.
  • In cases where an appeal against suspension, exclusion or zero mark is lodged, the external academic transcript will show 'appeal pending' under the relevant course and teaching period.