1.1 The purpose of the Disciplinary Procedure is to manage risk and support the constructive engagement of students with the learning community.
1.2 The Student Code of Conduct details what is expected from students in terms of their behaviour and the following of University rules and regulations. This procedure applies to all students engaged in any University activity whether on or off site.
1.3 If there is cause for concern over a student behaving in an unacceptable way the student may be subject to the Disciplinary Procedure. Examples of unacceptable behaviour, and the stage of disciplinary action within which they might fall, are given in the Final Section of the procedure.
1.4 The disciplinary procedure may also be used to consider a risk to the University and its community following actions that may not directly contravene codes, rules and regulations referred to above, for example, criminal investigation/conviction post-enrolment.
1.5 Information relating to a disciplinary allegation will be kept confidential and will not be divulged to parties not involved in the disciplinary process. Where an outcome of a disciplinary investigation requires ongoing action, input, awareness of a sanction, limited information will be communicated to the individuals concerned. Possible recipients include but may not be limited to: Programme Leader, Personal Tutor, College Advisor, Security, Student Wellbeing, College Student Centre, University Halls of Residence, Sports Centre and Reception points.
1.6 This procedure is not intended for use where an academic offence is suspected. For regulations relating to this please see Part J on Academic Offences.
1.7 If a matter relates to allegations regarding conduct in halls of residence, please consult the DSRL disciplinary procedure in the first instance.
1.8 If a matter relates to allegations regarding conduct on Union of Students business, please consult the US disciplinary procedure in the first instance.
1.9 When an allegation is made, students are recommended to seek independent advice and support from a trained advisor at the Union of Students Advice Team.
1.10 It is not possible to submit a complaint arising from or connected with a student disciplinary matter until all relevant elements of the Student Disciplinary Procedures have been completed. Concerns about the operation of the disciplinary process should be submitted as an appeal (See Section 9).
1.11 Matters relating to Fitness to Practice on professional programmes will be considered through the General Procedure D on Professional Conduct and Professional Suitability. If the findings have an institutional impact they may subsequently be referred for consideration under the disciplinary procedure.
1.12 Matters raising concern that are the result of the student’s mental health or disability may be referred to “Fitness for Participation in University Life” procedures.
1.13 Where a student withdraws from the University prior to completion of disciplinary investigation, a decision on the outcome of the situation will be made by the Dean of College or nominee based on the information available at that point in time.
1.14 The Student Complaints and Conduct Team oversee the student disciplinary process. They monitor, keep central records and provide advice and support on the procedure to students and staff.
2 Informal Approach
2.1 The Disciplinary Procedure is designed to ensure that students accept responsibility for their actions and put minor problems right before they become serious.
2.2 It is anticipated that an informal approach will resolve many issues and this will normally be used first. When this is possible and the issue is resolved a summary note may be placed on the student file with a copy to the student and copy provided to the Personal Tutor. Part of the resolution could involve the student making appropriate recompense.
2.3 Where an informal approach has not been effective or where offences are serious or repeated the formal stages of the Disciplinary Procedure will be used, as set out below.
2.4 Outcomes of both informal and formal stages of discipline will include positive support for the student wherever possible.
3 Criminal Investigation/Prosecution
3.1 Any behaviour which is suspected of being of a criminal nature may be referred to the police.
3.2 A matter may still be considered through the disciplinary procedure even if there is a decision not to pursue criminal investigation/prosecution. The internal procedure would consider the alleged behaviour as misconduct in terms of the expectations of student behaviour as detailed in the Student Code of Conduct and other policies of the University.
3.3 Where an issue of alleged misconduct would also constitute a criminal offence if proved in a court of law, the University may defer any action pending any police investigation or prosecution. In such cases, guidance will be sought from the investigating police force.
4 Precautionary Action
4.1 This involves managing the potential risk posed by a student while an investigation is ongoing where risk is identified by the nature of the alleged misconduct that:
- the student's continued presence represents a threat to themselves or others
- the suspected behaviour seriously breaches the regulations or infringes a Code of Conduct
- the suspected behaviour compromises the reputation of the University
Precautionary action may be considered/taken prior to investigation under disciplinary procedures, professional conduct and professional suitability (PCPS) procedures and those for Fitness to Participate in University Life.
4.2 Following report of an incident/issue, the Dean of College (or nominee) will consider the potential risk and determine the appropriate precautionary action to be taken. This may include:
- An immediate temporary suspension from the University and/or exclusion from any of its facilities by a Dean/Director
- Agreement of a behavioural contract between the student, Programme/College, Student Wellbeing and/or other areas as appropriate
- Support provision for both the student subject to investigation and others involved in the situation.
4.3 Temporary suspension
a) Where the student's continued presence represents a serious threat to themselves or others, it may be appropriate to issue a Temporary Suspension. A Temporary Suspension Form setting out the reasons for the suspension will be provided directly to the student by the college and a copy of the form lodged with the Student Complaints and Conduct team. Summary details of the temporary suspension will be notified to key areas for enforcement and support purposes.
b) Such a suspension will be temporary until the student can attend a disciplinary meeting unless the review finds that a suspension is no longer appropriate (4.3h below).
c) The fact of being suspended will not itself be used in evidence against the student.
d) During a period of suspension, the student may not be entitled to engage with teaching, learning and assessment activities. Entitlement to access some or all University facilities may be withdrawn. The extent of this will be considered at the point of suspension and will be confirmed on the Temporary Suspension Form. Where possible, subject to the safety and welfare of staff and other students, efforts will be made to minimise disruption to the student’s programme of study.
e) During a temporary suspension a key point of contact will be identified for the student. All communication from the student should be via this contact who will also maintain communication with the student on a regular basis ensuring that any external factors affecting the investigation reported by the student are fed in to the internal investigator.
f) Fees will not be refundable for the period of the precautionary suspension.
g) A period of temporary suspension resulting in a University level disciplinary hearing will normally last for a minimum of 20 working days.
h) The decision to suspend will be reviewed by the Academic Registrar within 10 working days of the decision. The student has the right to make written representation to the Academic Registrar which will be taken into account as part of the review. The outcome of the review may include the following:
- To continue the suspension without amendment,
- To continue the suspension with amendment,
- To end the suspension.
The outcome of the review will be confirmed to the student in writing.
i) The reason for the action and arrangements in place will be reviewed by the college on a monthly basis or in response to the report of a change of circumstances from the student. An update will be provided to Student Complaints and Conduct.
4.4 Agreement of a behavioural contract
a) Where the level of potential risk is of a less serious level, arrangements can be made in agreement with the student for certain measures to mitigate any risk allowing the student to continue with some or all aspects of their studies. Any such agreement must be agreed between the parties involved and will require the student to sign agreement to comply with the measures identified. Signed copy of the agreement will be provided to the student.
b) Failure to comply with the agreement, will lead to the contract being reviewed and to the issue of a temporary suspension as detailed in point 4.2.
4.5 Support provision
Following report of a suspected conduct matter both the student and a student complainant should be directed to sources of support including Student Wellbeing and the Union of Students Advice Team. A student who has been temporarily suspended may still access these facilities although this will need to be managed.
5 Preliminary Investigation
5.1 Any member of staff can bring allegations of misconduct against a student. Alternatively through grievance procedures there is a potential for a student to raise allegations against another student. The member of staff, student or third party raising the matter is called "the complainant".
5.2 Following report of allegation an investigator will be appointed by a senior member of the College/Department to which the student is aligned.
5.3 The investigator will notify the student of the initial allegation ideally within 5 working days, but no more than 10 working days of the matter coming to light.
5.4 The purpose of the preliminary investigation is to gather evidence to allow consideration of whether an allegation can be dismissed or requires further action through informal or formal procedures.
5.5 The investigator will consult a senior member of the College/Department, normally Dean/Director or nominee, in order to determine the appropriate stage at which to consider the alleged misconduct. In cases of uncertainty, advice may be sought from the Student Complaints and Conduct team.
5.6 The outcome of a preliminary investigation will be to either:
i. Dismiss the complaint
ii. Issue a caution through informal procedures to be recorded on the student’s record
iii. Refer the matter for consideration through Formal Disciplinary Procedures
5.7 Where the decision is to refer the matter for consideration through formal procedures, details of the allegation and a written report with accompanying evidence including witness statements, code of conduct/policy contravened, other documentary evidence will be submitted by the investigator to the Dean/Director or nominee, copied to Student Complaints and Conduct Team. In compiling the report, the investigator will give due regard to data protection legislation in ensuring that use of statements/third-party information is in agreement with the data owner.
6 Formal Disciplinary Procedures
6.1 Students who are subject to these procedures are encouraged to take advantage of the advice and support available to them from the Union of Students. At all points of the procedures a student has the right to be accompanied by a friend from within the University or Union of Students and, in addition, if the student is under eighteen years of age, by their parent or guardian.
6.2 Following submission of an allegation to formal procedures, the Dean or nominee will decide on the most appropriate level of investigation and communicate this to the student within 10 working days with copy to the Student Complaints and Conduct Team.
6.3 There are two stages in the procedures as set out below. If, after being formally disciplined through local procedures, a student repeats the offence or commits another s/he will normally be referred to a University Level hearing (point 6.9). In cases of serious misconduct, the appropriate formal stage will be used immediately without recourse to any previous stage (see guidelines below.)
6.4 At both stages there will be a meeting with the student where the evidence for the unacceptable behaviour will be clearly stated by the complainant, who call witnesses, and the student will have the right to state their case and bring witnesses. Disciplinary meetings will be conducted in accordance with paragraph 7 below.
6.5 The process, record of meetings and outcomes of the stage(s) will be recorded on the student's file the duration of the student’s registration on the programme and for six years after registration ceases, and they will be taken into account in any subsequent disciplinary meeting.
6.6 In the event that a student cannot attend a disciplinary meeting owing to illness or other good reason they must let the Chair know as soon as possible, indicating the reason why and, if appropriate, submitting a medical certificate. Where there is good reason for a student's non-attendance, and the Chair is notified in advance of the meeting, another meeting will be arranged.
6.7 If a student fails to attend a disciplinary meeting and/or does not provide good reason for non-attendance the meeting will proceed and a decision may be taken in their absence.
6.8 Local Procedures:
i. A Disciplinary Meeting will be arranged (see Section 7), chaired by a senior member of the College or Department accompanied by another member of the College or Department.
ii. On the balance of probabilities, the outcome of the meeting will be one of the following:
a) To find the allegation not proven. Under such circumstances no further action will be taken.
b) To find the allegation proven. Under these circumstances, the meeting will give the student a written warning and a clear statement of what is expected from them in the future. One or more of the consequences set out in paragraph 8.1 below may also be applied.
c) To refer the matter for consideration under University procedures (see 6.9 below).
d) To refer the matter for consideration under professional suitability procedures (See General Regulations D).
iii. Where given, copies of the written warning and notes/minutes of the meeting will be sent to the relevant Dean/Director and the Academic Registrar (or nominee). This record may be taken into account in any subsequent disciplinary meeting or in giving any reference on behalf of the student.
iv. If a student holds Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) registration and the findings of the investigation present cause for concern in relation to their ISA registration, the University may have a duty to refer its concerns to the ISA.
6.9 University Procedures:
i. Allegations of serious misconduct will be considered by a panel of four people at a Disciplinary Hearing (See Section 7). The Panel will consist of:
- The Chair: Appointed by the Academic Registrar and will normally be a Dean/Director or nominee from outside of the College/Department related to the student’s programme of study.
- A senior manager from within the University.
- A member of University or Derby Student Residences Limited staff or Union of Students employee.
- A student representative, normally an Officer Trustee of the Union of Students.
ii. No member of the panel will have had any prior involvement with the student's formal disciplinary or programme history.
iii. The panel will be supported by a secretary, nominated by the Academic Registrar, who will record details of both the meeting and the outcome.
iv. On the balance of probabilities, the outcome of the meeting will be one of the following:
a) To find the student not guilty of the allegation. Under such circumstances no further action will be taken.
b) To find the case not proven. Under such circumstances no further action will be taken.
c) To find the student guilty of the allegation. Under these circumstances, the meeting will give the student a written warning and a clear statement of what is expected from them in the future. One or more of the consequences set out in paragraph 8 below may also be applied.
v. Copies of the outcome and any warning and notes/minutes of the meeting will be sent to the relevant Dean/Director and the Academic Registrar (or nominee). This record may be taken into account in any subsequent disciplinary meeting or in giving any reference on behalf of the student. UCAS may be informed.
vi. If the student is being sponsored copies of the warning may also be sent to the sponsor.
vii. If the student is on a professional programme, details of the outcome may be sent to the professional body.
viii. If a student holds Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) registration and the findings of the investigation present cause for concern in relation to their ISA registration, the University may have a duty to refer its concerns to the ISA.
7 The Conduct of a Formal Disciplinary Meeting
7.1 Disciplinary meetings will be held in order to consider evidence and the student’s response to the allegations and to decide whether the alleged behaviour is unacceptable and if so to determine the appropriate course of action.
7.2 The student will be given written notice of the time and place of the meeting and the names and titles of the panel members. They will also be provided with a clear statement of the nature of the alleged unacceptable behaviour and any documentation to be considered at the meeting including investigator’s report.
The period of notice for a meeting will be:
- a minimum of 5 working days for local procedures
- a minimum of 15 working days for University level consideration
These may be reduced with the express agreement of the student.
7.3 The preference of the panel will be to receive written statements in advance rather than to include multiple witnesses in attendance particularly at Local Level.
If the student wishes to call witnesses to a University level hearing, it is the student’s responsibility to:
- Notify the panel of their intent to call witnesses and provide summary of witness statement at least 5 working days prior to the hearing.
- Make necessary arrangements for witness attendance.
Additional witness statements not included in the investigation report will be made available in advance of the meeting to the student and to the panel.
7.4 The student is entitled to be accompanied by a friend who is a member of the University or Union of Students and, if the student is under 18 years of age, by their parent or guardian.
7.5 During the meeting, the student is entitled to question both the complainant and investigator and (if present) witnesses. The student’s friend is entitled to make a statement on the student’s behalf.
7.6 Witnesses will be asked to leave the meeting once their evidence has been presented and questioned.
7.7 Once all the evidence has been heard the Chair of the meeting will also ask the complainant/investigator and the student and their friend (and, if present, the parent or guardian) to leave the meeting while a decision is reached.
7.8 The outcomes of the meeting will normally be communicated to the student immediately after the meeting and confirmed in writing by the Chair normally within 5 working days of the meeting, copied to the Student Complaints and Conduct Team.
If, exceptionally, a decision cannot be reached at the end of the meeting, the student will be informed of an anticipated date by which the decision will be given. This will normally be no longer than 5 working days after the meeting.
8 Consequences of Misconduct
8.1 At both levels of the procedures (Local and University) a student may:
i. Receive an oral or written warning;
ii. Be required to pay compensation for damage and/or cost;
iii. Be excluded from any of the University's premises or facilities for a defined period;
iv. In the case of University facilities, incur a penalty determined by procedures or agreements relating to the use of those facilities.
8.2 In addition at University level a student may:
i. Be suspended from their programme of study for a defined period; or
ii. Be expelled from the University.
Where the panel recommends that the student be suspended or expelled from the University, this will require the confirmation of the Academic Registrar. In considering the recommendation the Academic Registrar will be provided with the written material presented in the earlier proceedings, the record of those proceedings and the decision(s) reached.
8.3 Following expulsion or suspension, the student has no right to return or annulment of tuition fees.
8.4 Further detail relating to termination of registration can be found in Part D8 of 3R’s Withdrawal from a Programme of Study and Termination of Registration.
8.5 At the point of exclusion, the student will be considered for entitlement to an exit award.
8.6 Following a period of suspension or exclusion, the student will be required to apply for re-admission to the University through standard Admissions procedures.
9.1 Students have the right to appeal against the outcome of a disciplinary meeting.
9.2 An appeal will only be considered on one or more of 3 grounds:
i. If new evidence is available that for good reason was not available at the time of the original meeting
ii. If it can be demonstrated that the correct procedures were not followed
iii. If the consequence is out of proportion with the offence.
9.3 The appeal explaining the grounds for the submission must be submitted in writing within 10 working days of the communication of the outcome of the disciplinary meeting.
9.4 Appeals should be submitted to the Student Complaints and Conduct Manager. Receipt of the request for appeal will be acknowledged and the Student Complaints and Conduct Manager or nominee will consider whether the case for review is properly made. The student will be advised within 5 working days of whether the request for a review has been accepted and if not, reasons why it has not been accepted.
If accepted, a Student Disciplinary Appeal Panel will be established. The Panel will consist of:
- a member of the Executive Team (Chair)
- 2 members from either Academic Board or Academic Development and Quality Committee.
No member of the Appeal Panel will have any prior experience of the matter.
9.5 The Student Disciplinary Appeal Panel will be given the written material presented to the disciplinary meeting, the notes of the proceedings and the decision of that meeting. No witness present at the disciplinary meeting will be recalled, nor will the evidence presented to the disciplinary meeting be reheard, unless the panel is satisfied that it is necessary in the interests of justice. The student is entitled to attend a meeting with the panel in order to state their case, and to be accompanied in such a meeting by a friend, who is a member of the University or Union of Students, and, if the student is under 18 years of age, by their parent or guardian.
9.6 The outcome of the review will be to:
i. Confirm the original decision,
ii. Annul the original decision or
iii. Amend the original decision which may include a reduction in the original penalty
9.7 The Panel will keep a record of the appeal proceedings, and will communicate their decision to the student in writing, giving reasons for that decision. The Panel will aim to conclude its deliberations and respond to the student within 20 working days of the appeal being accepted.
9.8 If a student has completed this procedure and they are still dissatisfied with the outcome, they may be able to refer the issue as a complaint to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education (OIA) providing that it is eligible under the OIA’s rules. Information is available from the OIA’s website.
Students on a further education programme may be able to refer any unresolved concerns to the appropriate funding body for example Skills Funding Agency and the Education Funding Agency.
10 Guidelines for the Appropriate Use of the Disciplinary Procedure
10.1 If after informal processes, which include support, the student's unacceptable behaviour continues, the formal procedures will be used.
10.2 It is reasonable and necessary to assess how appropriate the stages are in relation to the student's maturity, level of ability and personal circumstances. The level of response must not only reflect the student's individual circumstances but communicate the values of the University and how it defines itself as a community.
10.3 Below are examples of the appropriate levels of response to students' behaviour. These examples are indicative only and are not exhaustive. Offences that can be dealt with under local procedures can include:
i. Refusing to give name, address or course, or giving false information, to a member of the University staff.
ii. Smoking in a non-smoking area.
iii. Not taking proper care of equipment or facilities.
iv. Dropping litter.
v. Being inappropriately noisy or inconsiderate.
vi. Contravening parking regulations.
vii. Damage or defacement of equipment, facility or property belonging to an individual or the University.
viii. Failure to observe instructions from University staff in relation to safety or the use of facilities or resources.
ix. Verbally abusive behaviour.
x. Wilful disregard of Health and Safety Regulations including driving too fast on campus, tampering with fire extinguishers, fire alarms or electronic equipment, misuse of or altering electrical fittings or unauthorised use of electrical appliances.
xi. Possession of illegal substances - this includes alcohol for under-18s.
xii. Possession of an offensive weapon.
xiii. Contravention of the University's Equality and Diversity Policy, including behaviour which is perceived as intimidating or harassing or which interferes with the personal and academic wellbeing of others.
xiv. Activities likely to disrupt teaching, study or research or any other activity of the University or obstructing any member of or visitor to the University in the performance of their duties.
xv. Wilful removal of any equipment or property belonging to an individual or the University.
10.4 Offences that might be considered under University procedures can include:
i. Wilful contravention of the University's Equality and Diversity Policy, Codes of Conduct or other Regulations.
ii. Behaviour which has a direct and damaging effect on the health and safety of others.
iii. Advice of a criminal offence post enrolment which requires consideration of the potential impact on the University community.
iv. Use of illegal substances or providing them to others.
v. Use or threatened use of an offensive weapon.
vi. Theft from individuals or the University.
vii. Physically violent behaviour.
viii. Failure to disclose a criminal conviction obtained after registration with the University.
ix. Referrals from University Academic Offence procedures and the Derby Student Residences Limited (DSRL) disciplinary process.
x. Any further or repeat incident as listed in the previous section.