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Information for Students
Below are some frequently asked questions for the Student Misconduct Rule. This Rule applies to all University and University Affiliate (including The College) students, and is effective from 1 January 2016.
What is student misconduct?
Student misconduct can be academic misconduct (which also includes research misconduct) or general misconduct.
Academic misconduct is conduct by a student that is in breach of any academic policy of the University or in any way undermines or otherwise puts at risk the academic integrity of any course, unit of study or assessment (including examinations) or the University's academic reputation.
Examples of academic misconduct include but are not limited to:
- bringing unauthorised materials or devices into an examination or assessment activity;
- working with another person in order to gain an unfair advantage in assessment;
- copying another person’s answers or improperly obtaining answers to questions in an examination or other form of assessment;
- submitting work for assessment that is not the Student’s own work;
- communicating in an examination, or other test, with other students, or bringing into the examination room any textbook, notebook, memorandum, other written material or electronic device or any other item not authorised by the person who set the examination or the examinations supervisor in charge or other supervisor of a test;
- writing an examination answer, or consulting another person or materials, for an examination answer, outside the confines of the examination room, without permission to do so;
- attempting to read another student’s work in an examination, or, in other circumstances, without their permission;
- where individual work is required, making or receiving available notes, papers or answers related to the content of an examination or assignment (in whatever form) to or from another student, without the permission of the teacher of the unit;
- not following the directions about seating location and movement about the examination room;
- where a student submits work in which ideas, words or other work are taken from a source and presented as if these are the student's own work, without appropriate acknowledgement of the original author, 'Appropriate acknowledgement' being the conventions of citation recognised as acceptable to the University.
Research misconduct is conduct by a student in connection with research that breaches the University’s Research Code of Practice and/or other applicable law, regulation or code relating to research, such as the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research.
General misconduct involves behavior that has an adverse impact on others or on the operations or business of the University. It can occur on or off campus while the student is undertaking course related activities, such as placements or field work. Common examples include:
- bullying, harassing, vilifying, victimising or threatening another person, including because of that person’s cultural or religious identity, gender, sexual orientation or disability;
- behaving in an unreasonably antisocial or offensive manner for any reason;
- not following a direction reasonably and lawfully given by a staff member of the University or a University Affiliate, including non-compliance with a Temporary Restriction Order or a Suspension Order;
- refusing to produce identification, including a student identification card, when asked lawfully to do so by a University staff member or University Affiliate;
- engaging in unprofessional behaviour while undertaking a practicum or placement as part of the student’s course;
- engaging in hazing, motting or other unauthorised initiation activities of a similar kind;
- unauthorised access to or use of any University property, systems or facilities or those of another organisation or person;
- submitting forged or fraudulent medical or other documentation;
- any other conduct that is in breach of any policy of the University in relation to acceptable standards of behaviour.
What do I do if I need to talk about a letter or email I have received with misconduct allegations?
Students are encouraged to utilise the University's welfare and counselling services available which are confidential and available for all students at no cost.Please visit the services and facilities for current students (opens in a new window) webpage for information on how to access this.
Is support available through the University?
Students have the right to access support services offered by the University. They can be found on the Student Welfare Service page (opens in a new window).
If you identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, you are encouraged to contact Badanami Centre for Indigenous Education who will be able to provide you with counselling support. For more details, contact the Badanami Infoline on 1300 897 669 or visit the Badanami website (opens in a new window).
International student may wish to visit the International student support website (opens in a new window).All students can have a support person or an advocate (for example, a family member or welfare officer) with them at any interview or hearing for misconduct. The University recognises that this can be a very stressful experience for students and strongly encourages students to seek support or help.
Which University documents include student misconduct?
The University has a number of policies and rules in place that are designed to promote ethical and safe behaviour among students. These set out important information about standards of behaviour expected from all students at Western Sydney University. This includes when students go on placements or undertake fieldwork or research.
Relevant policies include:
- Bullying Prevention Policy and Bullying Prevention Guidelines;
- Discrimination, Harassment, Vilifiction and Victimisation Prevention Policy;
- IT Acceptable Use of Resources Policy;
- Research Code of Practice (for students undertaking research);
- Research Ethics Policy (for students undertaking research);
- Respect and Inclusion in Learning and Working Policy;
- Sexual Harassment Prevention Policy;
- Student Code of Conduct;
- Student Misconduct Rule;
- Work Health and Safety Policy;
- Motting and Hazing Prevention Policy.
How is misconduct handled at Western Sydney University?
The University has two sets of procedures. All reports of alleged misconduct are referred to an Authorised Officer under the Rule for preliminary investigation. For very minor, first time offences, the Authorised Officer may deal with the matter under the Inappropriate Behaviour Guidelines (PDF, 65.72 KB) (opens in a new window), if certain conditions are met.
More serious matters are dealt with formally under the Student Misconduct Rule. The most serious matters (where the penalty could involve suspension or exclusion if the allegation is sustained) are referred to a Student Misconduct Committee for a hearing.
In all cases, students will have an opportunity to present their version of events, and to review any evidence.
How do I report misconduct?
If you think another student has committed misconduct, please report it to a trusted staff member, who will be able to report this to the appropriate area of the University, as soon as you can. If the misconduct involves a criminal-type offence (eg, stealing or assault), please contact Campus Safety and Security on 1300 737 003 as soon as you can.
Please note that you will probably be asked to provide an account of what you saw or heard to assist the University in dealing with the matter.
If you decide to later withdraw your complaint, the University may continue to run with the complaint.
How do I know if I have been involved in misconduct?
Descriptions and examples of misconduct are included in the Student Misconduct Rule, as well as other related polices that cover misconduct, as listed above.
It is your responsibility to know and understand what misconduct is and it is in your interests to make yourself familiar, particularly with plagiarism and class collaboration. University staff have various strategies to try to detect and discourage students from being involved in misconduct, particularly cheating in exams, plagiarism and submitting work purchased online.
If you find that you are struggling academically, it is very important that you seek help and guidance from your Unit Coordinator as early as possible. Your Unit Coordinator is there to help you find strategies or resources to help you do your best academically.
What do I do if I am accused of misconduct?
You are encouraged to utilise the welfare and counselling services available to you which can be access through the Services and Facilities (opens in a new window) website.
The University’s Student Legal Service is unable to give you legal advice in relation to misconduct matters or represent you at misconduct hearings but they may be able to refer you to an independent legal service provider if you require legal advice. The Student Legal Service can be contacted on (02) 9685 4788 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more details, visit the Student Legal Services website.
The University offers a free Individual Advocacy Service. For more details, please visit the Individual Advocacy (opens in a new window) website.
If you find yourself in this situation, stay calm, and try not to become angry. If you are called into a meeting, ask for details of what is alleged and why. You will have an opportunity to give your version of events. Please remember that pleading ignorance of the rules is not a defence, but if you have a reasonable explanation that provides some context about what occurred and why, then you should explain this. If you have any witnesses you think that support your version of events, you should ask for them to be interviewed also.
What does it mean for my future studies or professional career if I there is a finding of misconduct?
Depending on its seriousness, and whether it is a single incident, it may not affect your future studies or career. However, it will be recorded on your student file, which is a permanent record. Also, if you're studying a professional degree (XLSX, 51.42 KB) (opens in a new window) you may be required to disclose the allegation of misconduct, or the University may be required by law to report it. It is your responsibility to ensure that you understand the requirements of your professional body. The University takes no responsibility for the consequences arising out of a failure to disclose any finding of misconduct.
What are my rights and responsibilities as a student during a misconduct process?
The University believes it is very important that any student misconduct process is fair to students, and seen to be fair to students. Importantly, all students have the rights to:
- Be informed about the allegation, with a reasonable level of detail to enable them to respond;
- Have a reasonable opportunity to respond to the allegation, including reviewing any evidence and an opportunity to present their own evidence;
- Appeal on specified grounds any finding of misconduct made or sanction imposed;
- Expect that those who hear the allegation of misconduct will act fairly and impartially;
- Access Student Support Services for assistance.
Students also have certain responsibilities throughout the process, including:
- Not to intimidate, harass or threaten any witnesses, tamper with evidence or interfere with any investigation
- To conduct themselves in a civil and courteous fashion at any interview or hearing, and not be disruptive
Information on procedural fairness can be found here (opens in a new window).
Will I be notified if there is a misconduct hearing?
Yes. The University will send you an official notice via your student email account. The notice will include details of the alleged misconduct including what you are alleged to have done, and when and where it happened. It will also advise when and where the hearing will take place, and support options available to you. A Notice of Hearing must give you a minimum of 10 business days notice. You will be given copies of the Student Misconduct Rule and any evidence that is available.
How do I prepare for a hearing?
It's very important that you attend any hearing so you have an opportunity to give your version of what happened. If you don't, you run the risk of an unfavorable finding and sanction being made in your absence. If you receive a notice, you should:
- Call the contact person listed to confirm your attendance. If for some valid reason you cannot attend that day (eg, if you are overseas), tell the contact person who will try to make other arrangements to ensure you can attend
- Confirm whether you will bring a support person or advocate with you. Please note that it is very important that your support person or advocate is available on that day, as the hearing won't be delayed for their convenience
- Consider preparing a written submission and attach any evidence you have so you can hand it in either before or at the hearing. This can help you to provide some context to what happened. Also, you may not have time or forget to cover off all points at the hearing, so a written submission might be useful.
What can I expect at the hearing?
The procedures used at student misconduct hearings are not as formal as those used in courts, but they are designed to ensure fairness.
An Authorised Officer (often the Deputy Dean) will facilitate the hearing or if your matter has been referred to the Student Misconduct Committee the Chair of the panel (consisting of three people) will have this role. How the Committees are formed is set out in the Student Misconduct Rule. All of them are required to be impartial.
Student Misconduct Committees are not bound by the normal rules of evidence that apply in court proceedings and the standard of proof applied is not the criminal standard of "beyond reasonable doubt". The applicable standard is the civil "balance of probabilities" standard.
At the hearing, all evidence (including any evidence you put forward) will be considered.
There may also be witnesses called to give evidence in person. There is no automatic right to cross examine witnesses as per clause 12 of the Rule.
Can the University record interviews and/or hearings? Am I able to receive a copy of any recordings?
As per clause 52 of the Student Misconduct Rule, all proceedings before a Student Misconduct Committee or an Appeals Committee will be recorded in an audio or audio visual format. An Authorised Officer or Senior Authorised Officer may also designate any interviews or proceedings before them to be recorded at their discretion.
If the meeting is recorded, you may request a copy of this at the conclusion of the interview and/or hearing. It is advised that a written transcript will not be created from the recording and as such would not be provided.
Who will be at the hearing?
In addition to the student, the following people will be present:
- An Authorised Officer (often the Deputy Dean) or if your matter has been referred to the Student Misconduct Committee this consists of two staff members and a student representative. University staff involved in assisting the Committee or Authorised Officer (including someone to take notes of the hearing);
- Any support person or advocate you bring along with you;
- Any witnesses (including University staff who claim they saw the misconduct occur).
Do I have the right to cross-examine witnesses?
Will I be told about the outcome of any hearing of misconduct?
Can I be suspended?
Yes, depending on the seriousness of the allegation, and whether your continued attendance while the misconduct investigation and proceedings under way presents a risk. The University will try its best to take into account all your circumstances to ensure you are not unreasonably disadvantaged, however, please be aware that a Student Misconduct Committee must consider their objectives of preventing future incidences of misconduct and protecting the University community.
The length of suspension will vary depending on the circumstances. To return to studies after your suspension has expired, please email email@example.com.
What could be a possible outcome of my misconduct?
This document called Sanctions for Academic Misconduct (PDF, 66.77 KB) (opens in a new window) provides you with actual examples of sanctions that students have received if they have been found to have engaged in academic or general misconduct. Further details of sanctions can be found in Clause 22 and Clause 23 of the Student Misconduct Rule.
Will the process be confidential?
Yes. All interviews and hearings will be conducted and treated as confidential. Only those who are involved in managing the process will have access to this information. However, if a finding of misconduct is made, and a sanction imposed, then other staff may need to know of the outcome in order to implement it (for example, staff in your School). This information is high level only and details will not be provided.
In some circumstances, the University also has a legal duty to notify law enforcement agencies or government agencies (such as the Healthcare Complaints Commission) about misconduct.
Will there be a record on my student file?
What if the misconduct includes fraudulent behaviour?
If the misconduct involves a criminal offence and the police charge me, will the University still proceed with a misconduct hearing?
Do I have a right of appeal if a finding is made against me?
How do I submit an appeal?
Your appeal will need to clearly specify and explain which of the three grounds of appeal you are relying on. These grounds of appeal are listed in clause 15 of the Student Misconduct Rule and are listed below:
- the finding of Misconduct was made in breach of the requirements of procedural fairness or of a material requirement of the Student Misconduct Rule;
- there is new or fresh evidence that is relevant to the original finding(s) of Misconduct and that evidence was not known or reasonably available to you before the funding of Misconduct was made and could reasonably be expected to affect the finding of Misconduct or the sanction imposed;
- In addition to submitting the new or fresh evidence, you must also explain (with supporting documentation if relevant) why this evidence was not available to you at the time a finding was made.
- the sanction imposed is:
- inconsistent with Part 5 - Sanctions for Misconduct; or
- excessive and out of proportion to the Misconduct, taking into account any current and relevant Guidelines.
Your appeal may not proceed until you have provided the information above in enough detail.
How long can this process take?
What if I am cleared of misconduct?
If you have any questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.