Conduct Regulations – A Student Guide

All students are expected to conduct themselves at all times in a manner which demonstrates respect for the University, its staff, fellow students and the wider community. At enrolment you gave an undertaking to do so (Regulations for Students 5.6).

As a student, you are expected to behave in a responsible manner on and off campus, and on social media and other forms of communication, and to ensure that your actions do not have an adverse impact on the University’s reputation, its environment, your neighbours, the local community or those who work or study at the University.

You should treat fellow students, University staff, visitors and persons in the wider community with respect regardless of gender, religion, community background, nationality, race/ethnic origin, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, age or whether or not they care for dependants. 

Examples of Misconduct What happens if I am accused of a Conduct Offence? What should I do if I am accused of a Conduct Offence?
What happens next? I have attended an Investigating Officer’s Meeting – What happens next? Disciplinary Officer’s Hearing
Disciplinary Officer’s Hearing - Possible Outcomes I have received a Conditional Discharge – what does that mean? I have received a fine but I may have difficulty paying it – what should I do? 
I don’t agree with the decision of a Disciplinary Officer Committee of Discipline Committee of Discipline - Possible Outcomes (referrals to the Committee)
Committee of Discipline - Possible Outcomes (appeals to the Committee) What if I am unhappy with the decision made by the Committee of Discipline? Student Discipline Appeals Committee
Student Discipline Appeals Committee – Possible Outcomes What if I am unhappy with the decision made by the SDAC? What if I withdraw from my degree course during the course of an investigation or proceedings under the Conduct Regulations
Frequently Asked Questions    

Examples of Misconduct

Off campus

  • Causing disruption to your neighbours.
  • Excessive noise/music.
  • Drinking alcohol in a prohibited area.
  • Anti-social or offensive behaviour.

Other examples of off campus misconduct can be found here.

On Campus

  • Submitting forged or falsified evidence to the University (e.g. in support an application for exceptional circumstances or an academic appeal).   
  • Abusive or intimidating behaviour towards other students, members of staff or members of the public.
  • Misuse of your student card.
  • Possession of an illegal substance.
  • Failure to disclose a relevant offence as required to the Director of Academic and Student Affairs as required (see regulation 9).

Other examples of on campus misconduct can be found here‌.

In University Accommodation

  • Misuse of fire or other safety (covering a fire sensor) is an extremely serious offence as it endangers the lives of anyone in your building; it is also a criminal offence. Any student found to have tampered with this equipment will be referred to a Committee of Discipline to face a fine of £500 and/or expulsion.
  • Smoking or vaping in a non-designated or prohibited area.

Other examples of misconduct in University Accommodation can be found here.

On Social Media

  • Posting inappropriate, discriminatory or defamatory comments including comments about other students, staff, or work placement employers or their clients.
  • Using social media, text or email to make abusive, threatening or intimidating comments to or about other students, members of staff or members of the public.
  • Using social media, text or email to harass another person.
  • Posting comments or photographs on social media or by text or email which are intended or are likely to humiliate or degrade another person.
  • Posting obscene or profane comments or comments likely to or intended to incite hatred against a section of the community.

Other examples of misconduct on Social Media can be found here.

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What happens if I am accused of a Conduct Offence?

The University may receive complaints from other students, University staff, members of the public (including local residents), the Belfast City Council Noise Team or the Police.   

The complaint will be forwarded to the relevant department (i.e. Accommodation Services, Community Affairs or your School) to be investigated.

If the alleged offence is of a serious nature and/or the alleged behaviour is deemed to put other students or staff at risk, the University may impose a precautionary suspension (or emergency precautionary suspension) or exclusion from University premises (including University accommodation) pending a disciplinary hearing.

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What should I do if I am accused of a Conduct Offence?

This flowchart explains the Disciplinary process.

You are strongly advised to do the following:

Respond, when asked, to all correspondence from the University regarding the investigation into the alleged offence.

Seek advice: the Students’ Union will be able to explain the disciplinary procedures and may be able to attend the meetings with you.

Attend all meetings you are invited to. The University takes disciplinary matters seriously and students are expected to attend disciplinary meetings (whether with an Investigating Officer, a Disciplinary Officer, a Committee of Discipline or a Student Discipline Appeals Committee).

In cases of non-attendance, without good cause, your case or appeal will be considered on the paperwork alone; work commitments or holiday arrangements will not be considered good cause, particularly in light of the importance to your academic career. You may face an additional allegation of misconduct, if it is considered that you have demonstrated contempt for the University’s discipline procedures or have failed to co-operate with the University’s disciplinary authorities.

Should you be unable to attend for a genuine reason (scheduled medical procedure, examination, funeral etc.) the disciplinary authorities will try to be flexible. 

Be honest: if you are found to have been untruthful you may face an additional allegation of misconduct.  A Disciplinary Officer or University committee will appreciate your honesty and may consider it in mitigation when considering an appropriate penalty.

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What happens next?

If you are facing an allegation of misconduct, you will normally be invited to meet with an Investigating Officer. This is your opportunity to answer any allegations of misconduct, provide an explanation of your behaviour and submit any evidence that you wish to be considered in your defence or in mitigation.

On campus: Any incident that occurs on campus i.e. in University accommodation or in a University building will be investigated by Queen’s Accommodation or by your School respectively.

Off Campus: Any incident that occurs off campus will be investigated by the University’s Community Engagement Office.

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I have attended an Investigating Officer’s Meeting – What happens next?

Once the Investigating Officer is satisfied that they have sufficient information about the alleged misconduct, they will send a report, including a recommendation on how the case should be dealt with, to a Disciplinary Officer. The Disciplinary Officer will read the report and make one of the following decisions:

  1. Take no further action
  2. Consider your case on the paperwork alone (summarily) and make a decision
  3. Invite you to a Disciplinary Officer’s Hearing
  4. Refer your case to a Committee of Discipline (if the allegations are deemed to be serious in nature and/or you already have a disciplinary record – see Conduct Regulations, regulation 3.13).

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Disciplinary Officer’s Hearing

A Disciplinary Officer will consider allegations of misconduct as outlined in Conduct Regulations, regulation 3.12. You will be invited to the hearing and will be questioned about the allegation(s) of misconduct.

 

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Disciplinary Officer’s Hearing - Possible Outcomes

Following the Disciplinary Officer’s Hearing, the Disciplinary Officer will make a decision and may:

  1. Dismiss the case against you
  2. Give advice and warning
  3. Impose a conditional discharge – that no further action be taken provided you fulfil the conditions laid down by the Disciplinary Officer.
  4. Impose a written warning which will stay on your Student Record until graduation. (For a first offence involving excess consumption alcohol, a Disciplinary Officer may offer the option of attending the Alcohol Education Initiative to offset a penalty of a written warning and/or a fine.)
  5. Impose a fine, up to a maximum of £250.
  6. Require the payment for any loss or damage that resulted directly or indirectly from your misconduct.
  7. Refer your case to the Committee of Discipline, in consultation with Academic Affairs.*
  8. Refer your case to Academic Affairs for the Fitness to Practise Procedure to be invoked*
  9. Impose an exclusion (involving a selective restriction on, or access to, the University, or prohibition on exercising the functions and/or duties of any office or committee membership in the University or Students’ Union, the exact details to be specified in writing. This does not include exclusion from your course).
  10. Impose an exclusion for a specified period from accommodation.

* There shall be no appeal against a referral to a Committee of Discipline, where a finding of guilt has not been made, nor shall there be any appeal against a referral for the University Fitness to Practice Procedure to be invoked.

 

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Alcohol Education Initiative (AEI)

The AEI provides an opportunity for students who accept that alcohol played a part in the disciplinary offence they committed to learn about, and consider, the risks of excessive alcohol consumption. 

You may be offered the opportunity of attending an AEI as an alternative to a written warning and/or a fine.  You must complete all elements of the AEI; if you do not complete all elements, the original fine and/or written warning will be imposed.

I have received advice and warning – what does that mean?

It means that you have been found to have committed a disciplinary offence.  No further action will be taken against you but if you commit a further disciplinary offence of a similar nature, the Disciplinary Officer or committee may take into account that you were given advice and warning on a previous occasion when deciding the penalty for the subsequent disciplinary offence.   

I have received a Conditional Discharge – what does that mean?

It means that you should avoid being involved in any further incidents of misconduct during the remainder of your time at Queen’s.  If you do become involved in any further misconduct during your time at the University, the original offence may be reconsidered and a penalty imposed for it in addition to any penalty imposed for the further offence(s).  The outcome is likely to be more severe (see Standard Penalties for Disciplinary Offences).

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I have received a fine but I may have difficulty paying it – what should I do?

The University recognises that students may have difficulty paying a fine.  Should you receive a fine for misconduct you are advised to contact the Advice SU who can advise you on paying a fine, by instalments if necessary.  

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I don’t agree with the decision of a Disciplinary Officer

If you are unhappy with the decision of a Disciplinary Officer you have one opportunity to appeal that decision.  You cannot appeal the decision to refer your case to a Committee of Discipline.

The Disciplinary Officer’s decision letter will outline the date by which you must submit your appeal and the grounds of appeal.  You must submit your appeal on the appropriate ‌form‌ and must set out clearly the ground/s of appeal and how you consider that you meet the ground/s of appeal.

The grounds of appeal are:

  1. New evidence has become available which could not have been provided to the Disciplinary Officer.
  2. There has been a procedural irregularity.
  3. The decision of the Disciplinary Officer was too severe or inappropriate.

Please note that the outcome of an appeal may result in a more severe penalty being imposed.

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Committee of Discipline

A Committee of Discipline considers allegations of more serious misconduct or misconduct by students who already have a disciplinary record (see Conduct Regulation 3.13).  It also considers appeals against the decision of a Disciplinary Officer.

The members of a Committee of Discipline are:

  1. A Dean, Professional Support Director or senior member of academic / academic support staff (who will normally act as Chair)
  2. A Head of School or Director of Education*
  3. A Disciplinary Officer
  4. A Students’ Union Sabbatical Officer.

*A Disciplinary Officer may attend in the place of a Head of School or Director of Education

You will be invited to attend the Committee of Discipline to answer questions about your alleged misconduct. If the Committee is considering an appeal against a Disciplinary Officer’s decision, you will be expected to present your appeal against that decision.

 

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Committee of Discipline - Possible Outcomes (referrals to the Committee)

If your case has been referred to a Committee of Discipline by a Disciplinary Officer, the Committee of Discipline may deal with your case by one of the options available to a Disciplinary Officer (see above).  In addition to those options, the following penalties are also available to a Committee of Discipline:

  1. A fine, not exceeding £500 per offence.
  2. Suspension involving the total prohibition on attendance at or access to University facilities and on any participation in University activities; but it may be subject to qualification, such as permission to attend for the purpose of an examination.   Students under suspension will not be eligible to enrol or graduate.
  3. Exclusion from University accommodation.
  4. Expulsion from the University. 
  5. Referral to the Fitness to Practise Procedure 

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Committee of Discipline - Possible Outcomes (appeals to the Committee)

If the Committee of Discipline was considering your appeal against the decision of a Disciplinary Officer it will deal with your appeal as follows:

  1. Uphold the appeal and rescind the original penalty imposed by the Disciplinary Officer.
  2. Confirm the original penalty imposed by the Disciplinary Officer.
  3. Impose a different penalty, which may be more or less severe than the original penalty imposed.

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What if I am unhappy with the decision made by the Committee of Discipline?

If your case was referred directly to a Committee of Discipline and you are unhappy with the outcome, you may appeal to a Student Discipline Appeals Committee. The Committee of Discipline decision letter will outline the date by which you must submit your appeal as well as the grounds of appeal. You must submit your appeal on the correct form.

If you appealed the decision of a Disciplinary Officer to the Committee of Discipline, there is no further internal right of appeal.  However, if you are still unhappy with the outcome, you may make a complaint to the Northern Ireland Public Services Ombudsman within six months of the notification of the decision of the Committee of Discipline (see below). 

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Student Discipline Appeals Committee

A Student Discipline Appeals Committee considers appeals against the decision of a Committee of Discipline. The members of a Student Discipline Appeals Committee are:

  1. A Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Dean or Professional Support Director or nominee (Chair)
  2. The Registrar and Chief Operating Officer or nominee
  3. Two Heads of School or Directors of Education
  4. The President of the Students’ Union or nominee

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Student Discipline Appeals Committee – Possible Outcomes

The Committee will consider your appeal in relation to the ground/s of your appeal and will make one of the following decisions:

  1. Uphold the appeal and rescind the original penalty imposed by the Committee of Discipline.
  2. Confirm the original penalty imposed by the Committee of Discipline.
  3. Impose a different penalty which may be more or less severe than the original penalty imposed.

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What if I am unhappy with the decision made by the Students Discipline Appeals Committee?

If you have exhausted all internal appeals procedures and feel aggrieved by the process or outcome of the disciplinary process, you may make a complaint to the Northern Ireland Public Services Ombudsman.  If you wish to submit a complaint to the Ombudsman, you must do so within six months of notification of the University’s decision.

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What if I withdraw from my degree course during the course of an invetsigation or proceedings under the Conduct Regulations?

If you withdraw from your course during the course of an investigation or proceedings under the Conduct Regulations, the University may either:

i.  Continue with the investigation and hear the allegation of misconduct in your absence without further notice; or

ii.  Suspend the investigation and recommence it if you apply for re-admission to the University. Any offer of a place will be conditional on completion of the investigation and your compliance with any penalty or Future Conduct Agreement applied (in addition to any other applicable conditions e.g. academic conditions).

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Frequently Asked Questions

Why is the university concerned about off campus behaviour?

I live in a student area so why can’t I have a big party in my rental accommodation?

My neighbours are causing excessive noise, what can I do?

Can I bring someone with me to an Investigatory meeting?

I’ve received a fine, how do I pay it?

I can’t afford to pay a fine, what should I do?

What is a written warning on my Student Record?

What is advice and warning?

What is a Conditional Discharge?

What is the Alcohol Education Initiative (AEI)?

What can I do if I am not happy with the University’s final decision?

Why is the university concerned about off campus behaviour?

The Conduct Regulations are in place to protect the well-being of the students, staff, the wider community and the reputation of the University. As a Queen’s student, you have a responsibility to follow the University’s rules and regulations and ensure that your behaviour does not have an adverse impact on the University’s environment, its reputation, your neighbours, the local community and those who work or study at the University.

Engaging in misconduct may prevent you from obtaining your degree, could result in a criminal record and may jeopardise your career.  For more information please see Students in the Community

I live in a student area so why can’t I have a big party in my rental accommodation?

Despite being home to large groups of students, the area around the University is not solely occupied by students. You share the area with long term residents both from Northern Ireland and abroad, young professionals as well as other students. Everyone, including you, is entitled to live without being disturbed by excessive noise or other annoyance.  

My neighbours are causing excessive noise, what can I do?

The Belfast City Council Noise Team and the PSNI will deal with complaints about excessive noise. They will attempt to resolve the situation but will also report the property address to the local universities who will then investigate the incident further.  You, as a resident of the local area, may make a complaint about excessive noise.

In order to prevent students being brought before the courts for incidents of minor anti-social disturbance, the Belfast City Council and the Police have agreed that they will report off campus student misconduct to the local universities who will deal with it under their respective conduct regulations. Therefore, the main role of the statutory agencies is to record the details of the incident of misconduct and forward to the universities.

Can I bring someone with me to an Investigatory meeting?

You have the right to be accompanied by a registered student of the University, a member of staff, or University Chaplaincy or a staff member or officer from the Students’ Union

I’ve received a fine, how do I pay it?

The letter that you receive informing you that you have received a fine will also give you details on how to pay it. If you require further clarification please email the University’s Community Engagement office (A.D.Charles@qub.ac.uk or call 02890 973758).

I can’t afford to pay a fine, what should I do?

If a Disciplinary Officer or Committee of Discipline has issued you with a fine, the University will work with you to agree a payment schedule. You can meet with the Money Management Advisor in Advice SU who will be able to assist you with calculating a manageable monthly payment schedule.

What is a written warning on my Student Record?

Your School will be informed that you have been involved in an incident of misconduct and have received a written warning.  This will remain on your student record until you graduate from your programme of study.  A written warning is like a ‘yellow card’; there will be more serious consequences if you are involved in another incident of misconduct.

If you are studying on an accredited programme (such as Medicine, Dentistry, Nursing, Social Work, some Psychology and Education programmes), your School may also consider invoking the Fitness to Practise Procedure.

What is advice and warning?

This means that you have been found to have committed a disciplinary offence.  No further action will be taken against you but if you commit a further disciplinary offence of a similar nature, the Disciplinary Officer or committee may take into account that you were given advice and warning on a previous occasion when deciding the penalty for the subsequent disciplinary offence.

What is a Conditional Discharge?

This means that, if you are not involved in any further incidents, no further action will be taken against you in relation to this offence. However, if you are involved in any further breach of the University’s Conduct Regulations, a penalty may be imposed for this offence in addition to any penalty imposed for the further breach.

What is the Alcohol Education Initiative (AEI)?

This initiative is for students who have accepted that alcohol was a factor in a disciplinary offence they have committed.  It was developed in consultation with the Students’ Union to provide an opportunity to learn about, and consider, the risks of excessive alcohol consumption, in recognition of the fact that alcohol is a factor in the majority of disciplinary cases.

If you do not complete all elements of the AEI, the original fine and/or written warning will be imposed. 

What can I do if I am not happy with the University’s final decision?

If you have exhausted all internal appeals procedures and feel aggrieved by the process or outcome of the disciplinary process, you may make a complaint to the Northern Ireland Public Services Ombudsman.  If you wish to submit a complaint to the Ombudsman, you must do so within six months of notification of the University’s decision.