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UTS STUDENT RULES

Schedule 5 — Guidelines for Handling Student Misconduct Involving Plagiarism

These guidelines have been prepared for the benefit of all people involved in the processes established by the University to deal with allegations of student misconduct involving plagiarism pursuant to Rules 16.6.2 and 16.10.

These guidelines have been prepared with a view to providing consistency in process and outcome.

1. Definitions

Academic judgment is the process by which a student's performance is measured in an assessment task, taking into account the stated learning outcomes and assessment criteria set for that assessment and based on the professional judgment of the academic staff member concerned.1

Plagiarism is taking and using someone else's ideas or manner of expressing them and passing them off as his or her own by failing to give appropriate acknowledgement of the source to seek to gain an advantage by unfair means (Rule 16.2.1(4)).

Responsible Academic Officer means a person appointed as such by the Vice-Chancellor or the Provost on the advice of the Dean and such other persons as the Vice-Chancellor approves (Schedule 1 (Definitions)). (Also see the current list of Responsible Academic Officers.)

2. Principles

2.1 All actions taken under these guidelines must be fair and reasonable, implemented in a timely fashion, and with due regard to privacy of all involved in the matters under consideration.

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

2.3 The Responsible Academic Officer must be supplied with all relevant information by the relevant staff members upon which to base a decision.

2.4 Students must be informed of their rights with respect to appeal under Rule 16.15.

2.5 No person involved may divulge to any unauthorised person any information related to an individual student's personal information, circumstances, marks/results/grades or any other matters relating to an allegation of misconduct.

3. Conflict of interest

3.1 A Responsible Academic Officer must not deal with or determine an allegation of student misconduct if he or she is personally involved in any aspect of the allegation (Rule 16.5).

3.2 In the event that a Responsible Academic Officer, an officer of the University, or a student believes that the involvement of a Responsible Academic Officer in a matter would lead to a conflict of interest, he or she must consult with the Dean. The Dean will determine another appropriate Responsible Academic Officer to deal with the matter.

3.3 A Responsible Academic Officer is not personally involved in any aspect of an allegation by reason only of the fact that he or she hears or deals with the allegation under the Rules.

4. Notification of an allegation

4.1 When an academic staff member, in his or her academic judgment, identifies a possible incident of plagiarism the matter may be referred as an allegation of misconduct to the Subject Coordinator (if applicable).

4.2 The academic staff member and/or the Subject Coordinator will obtain and collate all information relevant to the allegation of plagiarism (supporting evidence) and submit this to the Responsible Academic Officer.

4.3 The Responsible Academic Officer may make such other inquiries as he or she considers necessary in order to consider the allegation.

4.4 If, after considering the supporting evidence and any other relevant information, the Responsible Academic Officer determines that the allegation is without foundation, or that there is insufficient information to support the allegation or to warrant further investigation, the Responsible Academic Officer may determine not to take further action in relation to the allegation.

4.5 In all other cases, the Responsible Academic Officer must, in writing, and as soon as possible:

(1) notify the student of the allegation and provide a copy of the supporting evidence, or if it is not appropriate for the student to receive a copy of the whole of the supporting evidence (for reasons including but not limited to privacy issues), provide a redacted copy of the supporting evidence which includes all of the information on which the Responsible Academic Officer's decision will be based; and

(2) provide the student with a copy of, or an electronic link to, the relevant Rules and guidelines; and

(3) give the student a reasonable period, being a period of not less than five working days, to respond in writing; and

(4) if the Responsible Academic Officer considers it necessary, request the student to attend a meeting with the Responsible Academic Officer and the Subject Coordinator at least five working days after the date of notification; and

(5) in the event that the student is requested to attend a meeting, advise the student that he or she is entitled to bring a support person to the meeting.

4.6 The Responsible Academic Officer may place limitations on the role of any such support person. For example, in some circumstances it may be appropriate for such a support person to assist by answering questions, or addressing issues raised, on the student's behalf. A support person will not be permitted to act as an advocate or legal representative on behalf of the student unless the Responsible Academic Officer determines that this is warranted by exceptional circumstances.

5. Meeting with the student (if required)

5.1 If the student has been requested to attend a meeting with the Responsible Academic Officer, he or she must:

(1) explain the nature of the allegation of plagiarism;

(2) provide an explanation of plagiarism and the reasons why the student's work appears to constitute plagiarism;

(3) inform the student that the University views plagiarism as serious misconduct and that a record of the meeting and the outcome will be placed on the student's confidential file; and

(4) invite the student to provide an explanation about the allegation.

5.2 At the conclusion of the meeting the student will be requested to sign a statement about good academic practice.

6. Matters to be referred to the Director, Governance Support Unit

6.1 If at any time during his or her consideration of the allegation the Responsible Academic Officer believes the alleged misconduct involves:

(1) misconduct other than plagiarism; or

(2) plagiarism and any other form of misconduct the Responsible Academic Officer must refer the matter to the Director, Governance Support Unit to be handled in accordance with Rule 16.12.

7. Responsible Academic Officer's decision

7.1 If a student fails to respond to reasonable attempts by the Responsible Academic Officer for the student to provide a written response to the allegation of plagiarism, or fails to provide acceptable reasons for not complying with a request to attend a meeting, the Responsible Academic Officer must proceed to handle the matter in accordance with these guidelines and based on the supporting evidence.

7.2 In determining what penalty, if any, to impose, the Responsible Academic Officer may have regard to:

(1) the extent of the alleged plagiarism as it relates to the work being assessed;

(2) the proportion of the overall mark for the subject represented by the assessment item;

(3) any conventions associated with the discipline to which the subject relates and the academic discipline overall;

(4) whether the student has a previous record of plagiarism;

(5) whether the student is inexperienced or demonstrates a genuine lack of understanding of academic integrity and honesty;

(6) whether the circumstances reveal confusion among students enrolled in a subject about assessment (for instance, confusion about acceptable levels of cooperation among students involved in collaborative group work); and

(7) in relation to group work, if a particular student responsible for part of an assignment or project submits plagiarised work, another individual in the group should not be penalised unless that other individual in the group has knowingly participated in the submission of the plagiarised work.

7.3 In coming to a decision, the Responsible Academic Officer must have regard to:

(1) the student's written representation or representations at the meeting (if any); and

(2) any previous case of student misconduct which the Responsible Academic Officer believes is similar to the case that he or she is considering.

7.4 In cases where there is no record of previous misconduct involving plagiarism and the matter is found not to have involved a deliberate attempt to deceive or to gain an unfair advantage, or a clear disregard of assessment requirements including but not limited to situations where:

(1) the student is inexperienced or demonstrates a genuine lack of understanding of academic integrity and honesty; or

(2) the circumstances reveal confusion among students enrolled in a subject about assessment (for instance, confusion about acceptable levels of cooperation among students involved in collaborative group work). The Responsible Academic Officer may do one or more of the following:

(a) impose no penalty;

(b) issue the student with a formal warning;

(c) permit the student to re-do and submit the assessment item with appropriate acknowledgement of source material included with a reduced mark to no more than a specified percentage, normally 50 per cent, of the maximum possible mark in the assessment task;

(d) allow further work to be submitted (normally a revised submission of the original work). The revised assignment or further work can only be awarded a specified percentage, normally 50 per cent, of the total possible marks for the assessment item. For subjects where the submission of a revised assessment item is not practical, the Responsible Academic Officer may determine another penalty as appropriate.

7.5 If the Responsible Academic Officer finds that there has been misconduct involving plagiarism, the Responsible Academic Officer must also inform the student that any similar incident occurring at any time in the future may result in a further penalty such as a zero mark, suspension or exclusion.

7.6 If there is a record of previous misconduct involving plagiarism, and/or there is clear evidence of an attempt to deceive, gain an unfair advantage, or a clear disregard of assessment requirements, the Responsible Academic Officer may impose any of the penalties below as appropriate, as provided in Rule 16.3.1(9):

(1) a reduction in marks for any part or parts of the assessment;

(2) a zero mark and 'Fail' result for any part or parts of the assessment of the subject;

(3) a requirement that the student re-write and submit a specific assessment task, with a reduction in marks to no more than a specified percentage, normally 50 per cent, of the maximum possible mark in the assessment task;

(4) a requirement that the student must undertake another alternative assessment task, 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;

(5) a zero mark and 'Fail' result for the subject, in which case the zero mark and 'Fail' result will be denoted on the official record of the student in the same way as a 'Fail' result awarded in the usual way.

7.7 Where one of the above penalties has been imposed, the Responsible Academic Officer must notify the student in writing of the decision and the student's right of appeal under Rule 16.15.

7.8 If the Responsible Academic Officer determines that a more serious penalty is appropriate, such as suspension or exclusion from the course or the University, the Responsible Academic Officer must refer the matter to the Director, Governance Support Unit to be handled in accordance with Rule 16.12. The Responsible Academic Officer must notify the student in writing that the matter has been referred to the Director, Governance Support Unit and that the student may within five working days make written representations to the Director, Governance Support Unit about the recommendation.

7.9 A copy of all relevant documentation must be sent to the Student Misconduct and Appeals Team, Governance Support Unit, or as directed by the Director, Governance Support Unit, for relevant details to be entered on the student system as appropriate and to file the documentation on the student's confidential file. Where a zero mark for the subject has been imposed an Authority to Vary Results (AVR) form must be submitted with the documentation.

8. Records

8.1 A copy of all records must be sent from Student Misconduct and Appeals Team, Governance Support Unit to Student Administration Records to be scanned.

8.2 Records of previous misconduct involving plagiarism may be accessed via Student Administration Records by a Responsible Academic Officer and taken into account in determining an appropriate penalty under Section 7 in Schedule 5.

Footnote 1. Definition from Australian Learning and Teaching Council (ALTC) Good Practice Guide for Handling Student Grievances and Discipline Matters 2009.