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General Provisions Relating to Academic Appeals, Conduct, Academic Offences and Student Complaints

1. Equality, Diversity and Fair Treatment

1.1 The University has a legal, as well as a moral duty, to treat all students fairly. The University values and promotes equality and diversity and will seek to ensure that it treats all individuals fairly and with dignity and respect. The University seeks to provide equality of opportunity and treatment to all, regardless of a person’s gender identity/expression (this includes Transgender and Non-Binary people); pregnancy or maternity status; marital or civil partnership status; whether or not they have dependants (including caring responsibilities); religious belief or political opinion; race (including colour, nationality, ethnic or national origins, including Irish Travellers); disability; sexual orientation and age.

1.2 The University will seek to ensure that it discharges its duty to make reasonable adjustments in relation to any individual who is disabled under the the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA).

1.3 Where possible, there will be an equal gender balance on committees.

1.4 Persons involved in cases dealt with under the University Procedures and Regulations set out above, and in particular, Committee members, will be independent and will have no prior knowledge of the student or their circumstances.

2. Fair Treatment

No person who is subject to investigation, who submits an appeal and / or a complaint under University procedures will be treated less fairly as a result. Allegations of victimisation shall be considered under the Student Complaints Procedure or the Conduct Regulations as appropriate.

3. Confidentiality/Disclosure of Information

3.1 The University will take all reasonable steps to limit the disclosure of information as is consistent with investigating the issue(s) raised and the provisions of the Human Rights Act 1998, the General Data Protection Regulation 2016, the Data Protection Act 2018, the Freedom of Information Act 2000, and any other relevant legislation.

3.2 There may be circumstances where it is necessary for the University to share information either within the University or with external organisations, including to allow the University to discharge its safeguarding obligations or as required by law.

3.3 In order to protect all individuals involved in University procedures and to ensure a fair investigation, all staff and students are expected to respect the integrity of University processes and the confidentiality of information arising from them, unless there is an overriding reason to disclose information. This does not constitute a non-disclosure agreement.

3.4 Staff or students who are found to have breached the confidentiality of a University process may face disciplinary action under the relevant regulations and associated procedures.

4. Duty of Candour/Fabricated Evidence

4.1 It is expected that any person involved in any University process will treat all others involved with respect and courtesy and will behave honestly and with integrity throughout the process. It is also expected that evidence (written or oral) provided to the University by any person will be true to the best of that person’s knowledge.   

4.2 Staff or students who are found to have made false allegations, acted dishonestly, provided false evidence or made defamatory comments may face disciplinary action under the relevant regulations and associated procedures.

5. Frivolous or Vexatious Complaints

The University will not accept complaints (of misconduct or otherwise) by students which are deemed to be frivolous (i.e. a complaint which has no reasonable chance of success) or vexatious (i.e. where there can be no additional remedy in addition to one that the student has already been offered, or where the complaint is found to be mischievous). If a complaint submitted by a student is found to be frivolous or vexatious, the matter may be considered as a misconduct offence under the Conduct Regulations, or may be considered under the Guidelines on Fitness to Continue in Study on the Grounds of Health and/or Safety.

6. Defamatory or Derogatory Comments

Students should be careful not to make unsubstantiated or defamatory allegations or comments about students, members of University staff or any other person.  If the University considers that an allegation or comment may be deemed to be defamatory, it may require it to be retracted or deleted before permitting the investigation and /or appeal to continue.  If a student refuses to do so, the offending material may be deleted by the University and the student may be referred for a separate investigation under the Conduct Regulations.

7. Evidence

The University reserves the right to request and consider independent evidence, including medical evidence, as it deems appropriate.  Where considered necessary, a committee may adjourn a meeting in order to allow time for such further evidence to be obtained. However, should a student wish for specific evidence to be included in support of their case, the onus is on the student to obtain and present this evidence by the specified deadlines.

8. Standard of Proof

The University procedures are evidence-based processes and the standard of proof shall be on the balance of probabilities.

9. Right to be Accompanied

9.1 Any student has the right to be accompanied at any stage in the proceedings by a registered student of the University (which includes a Students’ Union Sabbatical Officer), or a member of staff of the University, or University Chaplaincy. The role of the person accompanying a student is one of support, not representation, and the student will be expected to answer questions themselves and make their own representations.

9.2 A student may be permitted, exceptionally, to be accompanied by an additional internal member of the University or a member of an external organisation to ensure that the pastoral needs of the student are fully met.

10. Recordings

Meeting participants are not permitted to make electronic or digital audio or visual recordings of any meetings or proceedings under these regulations without the express consent of all participants. Any unauthorised recording may lead to action under the Conduct Regulations.

11. Communication

The University will normally communicate by email with anyone involved in University processes. In the case of students or University staff, this will normally be to their University email address. Where correspondence is sent to a student by post it will be sent to their current term-time address registered with the University.

12. Late Appeals/Complaints

Appeals or complaints received after the specified deadline will not be considered unless the student can evidence circumstances beyond their control (e.g. hospitalisation) which meant that they were unable to submit their appeal/complaint by the relevant deadline.

13. Relevant Regulations/Procedure

13.1 For Conduct and Student Complaints: In the event that a case extends over more than one academic year, the applicable University regulations and/or procedures shall be those in place at the time when the case was first instigated.

13.2 For academic appeals and academic offences: In the event that an appeal extends over more than one academic year, the relevant University regulations and/or procedures shall be those in place at the time when the relevant assessment was taken by the student.

13.3 In complex cases, where more than one procedure may apply, the Director of Education and Student Services (or nominee) and a senior colleague shall decide which University Regulations shall be followed.

14. Central Monitoring and Record Keeping

Data will be retained in line with the University’s Records Retention Schedules.