Student Disciplinary Procedure: Non-Academic Misconduct

STUDENT DISCIPLINARY PROCEDURE: NON-ACADEMIC MISCONDUCT

Introduction

Purpose

This Policy explains the procedures that LSME will use to consider allegations of non-academic misconduct by students. To operate effectively, LSME has set standards of conduct to which students are expected to adhere. These standards are supported by procedures that ensure that alleged breaches are dealt with in a way that is fair, consistent and transparent. It is also important that disciplinary procedures are accessible to those engaged in the process (in whatever role) and treat those subject to disciplinary action in a similar way irrespective of their age, race or ethnicity, religion or belief, gender or sexual orientation, or any disability.

This policy defines what counts as non-academic misconduct and explains the various roles involved in considering allegations, the range of penalties that may be imposed, avenues of appeal and reporting and monitoring arrangements.

Expectations of student behaviour

As members of the LSME community, students are expected to be aware of and to adhere to the College’s regulations, policies and procedures, including those relating to codes of conduct for students; to show respect for persons and property, and to behave in a way that does not interfere with the normal operations of the College. Our search for knowledge requires an environment in which all members are free to question, explore and debate new and challenging ideas. It requires the College community to be tolerant of the views and beliefs of others but the College will not tolerate behaviour which incites hatred or which seeks to coerce others into accepting those views or beliefs.

Scope

These disciplinary procedures relate to non-academic misconduct and apply to all students registered with the College. It should be read in conjunction with the College’s Anti-Harassment and Bullying Policy which may result in referral for action under these disciplinary procedures and the College’s Student Complaints Procedure. Issues of academic misconduct are considered under the Academic Misconduct Policy.

Definitions

Misconduct

Misconduct that is dealt with under these procedures may fall into one of the following categories:

a) Conduct that is in breach of applicable College policies and procedures.

b) Conduct that causes actual or potential distress or harm to others.

c) Conduct that causes actual or potential damage to the property of others.

d) Conduct which constitutes a criminal offence.

e) Conduct which impedes or interferes with the pursuance of work or study of members of the College or which impact upon the normal functioning of the College.

f) Conduct that causes actual or potential reputational damage to the College.

Misconduct may have differing gravity and may be categorised as ‘minor misconduct’ or ‘gross misconduct. In that regard, different levels of penalties may be imposed.

Examples of minor misconduct include:

a) Failure to comply with explicit rules or regulations: for example, smoking in non-designated areas, causing a disturbance in class.

b) Infringement of the College’s Health and Safety rules: for example, failure to vacate premises during fire alarms.

c) Refusal to respond to reasonable requests by relevant College staff: for example, refusing to confirm identity when requested to do so by College staff during the normal course of their duties.

d) Causing distress to others through excessive and unacceptable levels of noise.

e) Causing minor property damage.

f) Anti-social behaviour which causes distress to others and/or reputational harm to the College’s relationship with its stakeholders, including the local community.

The list is illustrative and not exhaustive.  Besides, the inclusion of an example in the list does not mean that the misconduct can only be dealt with as minor: judgments will always need to be made about the scale of the misconduct and any aggravating circumstances which may justify the misconduct being dealt with as gross misconduct.

The following list provides examples of gross misconduct; again, the list is illustrative and is not exhaustive:

a) Verbal abuse or intimidation.

b) Assault or behaviour causing physical harm.

c) Threatening, offensive or indecent behaviour.

d) Possession and/or intent to supply controlled drugs.

e) Serious or persistent acts of bullying or harassment.

f) Theft, fraud, or deliberate falsification of records.

g) Arson or otherwise causing serious or deliberate damage to property.

h) Misuse or unauthorised use of the College premises and equipment including, for example, the unauthorised possession of a key or identity card giving access to College premises.

i) Serious or persistent failure to comply with the College rules and regulations, including Health and Safety rules.

j) Offering or giving money, gifts or any other advantage to any employee of the College to induce the employee to perform their job improperly or of rewarding them for having done so or obtaining any advantage not otherwise entitled to. k) Actions that are likely to bring the College into disrepute and/or cause interference to the normal functioning of the College, particularly when the student is acting on College business (for example participating in a field trip).

l) Failure to respect the rights of others to freedom of belief and freedom of speech.

m) Refusal to pay a fine or observe another penalty imposed by the College.

n) Multiple or repeated instances of minor misconduct.

Roles

Board of Directors has delegated to the College’s Executive Director (the Chair of the Attendance and Attendance and Disciplinary Committee) the authority and power to suspend, exclude, or expel or to impose any such other penalty as may be appropriate on any student deemed to have been guilty of misconduct. Where the alleged misconduct is considered to be minor, the Executive Director can authorize another member of staff to investigate and, where appropriate, agree on the informal resolution of the issue or impose penalties where they find the alleged misconduct to be proven. This authorized person could be:

  1. Programme Leader
  2. Senior Lecturer who are both members of the Attendance and Attendance and Disciplinary Committee

Any allegations of misconduct must be made to the Principal. The allegation should set out the nature and time of the alleged misconduct, the identity of the person(s) involved and available evidence.  On receipt of the allegations, the Principal will first decide whether the allegation being made is properly described as minor misconduct and appropriate to be dealt with under Minor Misconduct Procedures or whether the allegation is more serious and should be referred to the Executive Director to be dealt with under Gross Misconduct Procedures.

Where Gross Misconduct Procedures are invoked, the Attendance and Discipline Committee will convene a meeting chaired by the Executive Director of the College and other members of the Committee that are not connected in any way with the allegation.

General Principles

  1. If the College has reason to consider that a crime may have been committed contrary to UK criminal law, the College will normally report the matter to the police and/or other appropriate UK authority. If alleged misconduct is subject also to criminal or civil proceedings, the College may decide to hold the disciplinary process in abeyance until the legal proceedings have concluded. The student has the responsibility to keep the College informed of the progress and eventual outcomes of the legal proceedings as the College may be able to rely on a legal verdict from the courts in their disciplinary process.
  2. Where the nature of the alleged misconduct suggests that there may be a risk to the safety of others or that the student accused of the misconduct may be at risk of harm, a risk assessment will be undertaken, taking account of any representations made by the student. This may result in either no action; a requirement that the student complies with specific conditions (for example, not to contact certain other students, not to enter certain premises); or a decision to suspend the student from any class or classes and/or to exclude the student from any part of, or all of, College premises or grounds or the use of College facilities until the disciplinary procedure has concluded.
  3. The precautionary action is not a penalty and is without prejudice to the deliberation of issues that will take place as part of the disciplinary process: it does not indicate a presumption that the student is guilty of the alleged misconduct.
  4. There shall be no right of appeal against a decision to take precautionary action but a student may request a review at any time if there is a relevant change to his/her circumstances. The request should be made in writing to the Principal who will endeavour to respond within five working days.
  5. If circumstances arise where a student fails to abide by the requirements of precautionary action, that shall itself constitute gross misconduct and the Executive Director under the directives of the Attendance and Attendance and Disciplinary Committee will consider whether it is appropriate to refer the matter to the police, take civil legal proceedings and/or initiate gross misconduct procedures or include the matter within gross misconduct procedures already in hand.

Establishing Proof

These procedures seek to ensure that the College acts fairly and reasonably in relation to all parties to disciplinary proceedings. They comply with the rules of natural justice which give a student the right to know the case against him/her; the right to be allowed to defend himself/herself; and the right for the case to be considered by an impartial intermediary. The standard of proof used to consider whether or not alleged misconduct is found to have been proven will be the civil standard, i.e. on the balance of probabilities.

Service of Notice

All communications with students required under these procedures will be sent to the student’s email address with a hard copy sent by post to the student’s home address as held on his or her records at the time. The College will regard notice of the contents of such communications as duly served on the day after the e-mail was sent and a hard copy sent via post. Where an e-mail address is not available, the administrator will identify an alternative means of communication.

Students’ Right to be Accompanied

A student subject to disciplinary proceedings has the right to be accompanied by a friend or supporter of their choice if they wish but not to a legal representative. The friend or supporter must be a member of the College community or a student representative

Rights Reserved by the College

Wherever possible and practical, the College will allow students to attend investigative meetings or disciplinary hearings to give their account of events or defend themselves in person. The College reserves the right, however, to proceed with any investigative meeting or disciplinary hearing in the absence of the student, if the student has been properly notified of the date, time and venue for the hearing. This right is similarly reserved in cases where criminal proceedings do not allow the student to attend in person.

The College will wherever possible adhere to the time limits specified in these procedures but reserves the right to adjourn any investigation or hearing and reconvene at a later date or otherwise vary the time limits specified. Where such circumstances arise, the student will be advised of the adjournment or other change in time limits and the associated reasons by the member of staff handling the investigation.

Abandonment or suspension of cases where a student withdraws from the School

Where a student withdraws from the School before the conclusion of disciplinary proceedings, the Executive Director will determine whether the proceedings should continue at that time. This also applies to the situation where the student appears to have withdrawn even though they have not notified the College formally of a decision to withdraw. If the Executive Director decides that the disciplinary proceedings should not at that time continue, consideration of the case may be abandoned or suspended. In either case, the School may refuse admission to any programme of study or the provision of any other service to the former student concerned until consideration of the suspended disciplinary case is properly concluded.

Confidentiality and disclosure of information

All information presented in the course of the investigation of allegations of student misconduct will be treated as confidential to the disciplinary proceedings. Such information will normally only be available to those involved in the disciplinary proceedings The College may, however, where it is under a duty or considers it right to do so, disclose any information from these proceedings at any stage to professional, statutory or regulatory bodies, legal representatives or government and law enforcement agencies in the UK or overseas, as appropriate.

Interpretation

Except for matters relating to the conduct of College Discipline Committee hearings, if the need arises to interpret the meaning of any part of this document, it will be the responsibility of the Executive Director (Chair) to do so, giving reasons. His decision will be final and binding on all parties

Minor Misconduct Procedures

Establishing the facts/ initial investigation-Once an allegation of misconduct has been received, it will be important to establish the facts. Depending on the circumstances and the amount of information available, it may be necessary for the authorised person to conduct an initial investigation.

If an investigative meeting is to be held, the student should be invited in writing to attend, normally with two days’ notice, and informed of the nature of the alleged misconduct. The authorized person will prepare a report after the investigative meeting and decide as to whether there is a case to answer.

If there is, the authorised person will decide whether it is appropriate for the alleged misconduct to be considered as a matter of minor misconduct which is appropriate for informal resolution warnings or to be dealt with using Minor Misconduct Procedures.

If the authorised person considers the alleged misconduct is not appropriate to be dealt with as a matter of minor misconduct, he/she will refer the allegation to Executive Director with a view to the allegation being considered under Gross Misconduct Procedures Requirement to notify the student.

The authorised person will inform the student, following an investigative meeting, whether or not he/she intends to instigate disciplinary action or to seek informal resolution of the complaint.

If the authorised person decides to proceed with disciplinary action, he/she will inform the student whether the alleged misconduct will be considered as a matter of minor or gross misconduct. The student will be advised the student in writing of the allegation made, and all relevant information and evidence will be disclosed to them. They will be invited to make a written response to the allegations and allowed to include any information they consider should be taken into account as mitigating factors for their actions. This should be done within 5 working days

Consideration of Allegation/Conduct of the Hearing

The student is given at least five working days’ notice of the meeting in writing. The authorised person may request one or more members of staff relevant to the case to attend the meeting and the student may be accompanied by a friend or supporter in accordance with provisions elsewhere in these procedures. Where the authorised person decides the alleged misconduct should be considered as a matter of minor misconduct and considers there is sufficient information to proceed directly to a hearing, he/she may, with the student’s consent, combine the investigatory, notification and hearing stages into one. In cases where the student does not agree, the arrangements for separate investigatory, notification and hearing stages described above stand.

The Outcome of Consideration/Hearing

The outcome of consideration by the authorised person will be one of the following:

a) To dismiss the allegation

b) To refer the case to be considered under other, more appropriate procedures of the College

c) To find the allegation of minor misconduct proved and to impose a penalty.

d) To reclassify the misconduct as gross misconduct and refer the case to the Executive Director to convene a Discipline Committee to consider the allegation.

Penalties

The penalties the authorised person may impose may be one or more of the following:

a) A formal warning, orally and in writing, advising the student as to their future conduct.

b) A behavioural contract including requiring, for example, attendance at an appropriate workshop or seminar.

c) A compensation payment to meet the direct cost of reparations to property (whether belonging to the College students, staff or other person or a fine.

d) Restorative justice, including voluntary or community work for a specified period.

Notification of Outcome

The authorised person will endeavour to inform the student in writing of the outcome within five working days of the hearing/their consideration. This notification will also advise the student of the right of appeal available and the procedure to be followed if he/she wishes to exercise that right

The authorised person will also inform the Principal or Executive Director of the outcome of the disciplinary proceedings, including cases resolved without invoking formal disciplinary procedures.

Gross Misconduct Procedures

Establishing the Facts

Where there is a reason to believe that the alleged misconduct may be classified as gross misconduct, the Executive Director will appoint an Investigating Officer to conduct an initial investigation to establish the facts of the case. The Investigating Officer will invite the student in writing to attend an investigative meeting, normally with two days’ notice, and inform the student of the nature of the alleged misconduct.

The Investigating Officer will submit a written report to the Executive Director who will decide whether there is a case for the student to answer and, if so, whether that case should be dealt with as a matter of gross misconduct under Gross Misconduct Procedures or minor misconduct under Minor Misconduct Procedures.

The Requirement to Notify the Student

The Executive Director will notify the student of his/her decision. Where the alleged misconduct is to be considered as a matter of gross misconduct, the student will be informed that the Attendance and Discipline Committee will be convened to hold a hearing to examine the evidence and reach a decision. The student will be informed of the opportunity to be accompanied by a friend or supporter and to call witnesses and seek written statements.

Once members of the Attendance and Discipline Committee who will be attending the hearing is decided they will notify the student of the allegations made and disclose all evidence and other relevant information available at that time to the student and endeavour to give at least ten working days’ notice of the hearing.

The student or the Committee may wish to invite witnesses to appear at the hearing or to provide written statements if they consider that would help the Committee’s consideration of the issues. The names of any witnesses to be invited to the hearing or of those to be invited to submit written statements should be provided to the Committee at least ten working days in advance of the date of the hearing to allow time to advise potential witnesses, collect statements and circulate copies to Committee members and the student.

The Committee will endeavour to send copies of statements and other documentation to all members of the Hearing Panel and the student five working days in advance of the date of the hearing.

It is the responsibility of those calling witnesses to ensure their attendance at the hearing or to ensure any written statements they are seeking are provided. If the student wishes to be accompanied by a friend or supporter again, it is their responsibility to ensure their friend or supporter’s attendance at the hearing and to provide them with copies of relevant documentation.

The Disciplinary Hearing

The ruling of the Chair of the Attendance and Discipline Committee (the Executive Director) will be final and binding on all parties on issues relating to the conduct of the hearing, including in particular:

a) The admission of evidence (written or oral) submitted for consideration by the Committee. This includes the power to refuse to admit evidence or hear witnesses on the grounds of lack of relevancy.

b) Whether the Committee should proceed with its consideration in the absence of the student, the student’s friend or supporter or any particular witness or written statement.

The Committee hearing will proceed in line with the following:

a) The person presenting the case against the student shall set out the allegations and evidence in the case and may, during the hearing, ask questions of the student.

b) The student (with the help of their friend or supporter if they wish) is invited to respond to the allegations, answer questions and ask any of their own. Only the student, not their friend or supporter, can answer questions addressed to the student, although the student may take advice from their friend or supporter in determining their response.

c) All questions will be asked through and answer given to, the Chair.

d) With the agreement of the Chair, any party to the hearing (including the Committee) may call witnesses or refer to written statements that have been submitted for consideration by the Committee.

e) Any party to the hearing (including the Committee) may question witnesses.

f) The Committee will hear concluding remarks from the person (if any) presenting the case against the student and from the student (or their friend or supporter).

The Committee will determine the outcome of the hearing by a simple majority vote of its members.

Outcome of Hearing

The outcome of the hearing by the Committee will be one of the following:

a) To dismiss the allegation.

b) To refer the case to be considered under other, more appropriate, procedures

c) To find the allegation of gross misconduct proved and to impose a penalty.

d) To find the allegation proved as a matter of minor misconduct and to impose a penalty. 

Penalties

If the student is found guilty of gross misconduct, the School Discipline Committee may impose one or more of the following penalties:

a) Any of the penalties available as set out above.

b) Suspension of the student’s registration with the College and exclusion from premises and use of facilities for a specified period.

c) Expulsion from the College.

If the student is found guilty of minor misconduct, the Attendance and Discipline Committee may impose one or more of the penalties available as set out above.

Notification of Outcome

The student will be informed in writing by the Attendance and Discipline Committee of the findings in respect of the alleged misconduct normally within five working days following the hearing. Where the Committee found the allegations proven and imposed a penalty, the Committee will notify the student of their right to appeal and the procedure to follow if he/she wishes to exercise that right

Right of Appeal

  1. Appeals against determinations resulting from the use of Minor Misconduct Procedures

In cases where an allegation of minor misconduct against a student has been considered and proved through the use of Minor Misconduct Procedures the student may appeal against the determination and associated penalty.

Students wishing to exercise their right of appeal must do so within ten working days of being notified of the authorised person’s decision and must do so by submitting an appeal in writing to the Executive Director. Submissions by students must make clear whether the appeal is made against the finding of guilt, the penalty imposed, or both and must state the grounds for appeal.

For a submission to be considered it must demonstrate evidence of at least one of the following:

a) That evidence put to the authorised person was not fully and properly considered or that there was another form of procedural irregularity in the consideration of the case by the authorised person.

b) That there was prejudice or the appearance of prejudice against the student in the consideration of the case against him/her.

c) That the decision reached was perverse in that it was one which no reasonable person could have reached on the available evidence.

d) New and significant information have become available that was not available to the authorised person at the time the case was considered and there is a good reason why this information was not presented to the authorised person at the time.

e) The penalty imposed was excessive.

Where the Executive Director is satisfied that the appeal is in time and provides evidence of the grounds to be considered on appeal, he/she will refer it for determination to the Principal who will undertake a review of the papers but will not re-hear the case or interview the student.

Determination of the appeal will take the form of one of the following:

a) Upholding the original decision.

b) Upholding the original finding of guilt but changing the penalty.

c) Overturning the original decision and removing the penalty.

The student will be informed in writing of the outcome of their appeal, and the reasons, normally within ten working days of its receipt.

  1. Appeals against determinations resulting from the use of Gross Misconduct Procedures

In cases where an allegation of gross misconduct against a student has been considered and proved through the use of Gross Misconduct Procedures the student may appeal against the determination and associated penalty to an Appeal Panel comprising members of the Attendance and Attendance and Disciplinary Committee who were not originally involved in the initial hearing.

Students wishing to exercise their right of appeal must do so within the time limit to the Executive Director of the College. The Executive Director will endeavour to consider the submission within five working days of receipt and, were satisfied that the appeal is in time and provides the evidence required he will refer it to the Appeal Panel for determination. The Appeal Panel will not re-hear the case but undertake a review of the papers normally within ten working days and may, at their discretion, invite the student to present their case in person. If so, the Chair (or another member) of the College Attendance and Discipline Committee will also be invited to attend to respond to the appeal.

The Appeal Panel will determine the outcome of the appeal by a simple majority vote. Determination of the appeal will take the form of one of the options itemised (a) – (c) above.

The student will be informed in writing by the Chair of the Appeal Panel of the outcome of their determination of the appeal, and the reasons, normally within ten working days of their hearing.

Monitoring and Reporting

The College Administrator will keep records of the use of Minor Misconduct and Gross Misconduct Procedures and cases resolved without invoking formal disciplinary procedures. These records will be treated as confidential subject to certain qualifications.

An anonymised report will be submitted annually to relevant committees of the College. The admin department will also report findings in individual cases to relevant professional, regulatory or law enforcement bodies for them to consider any additional issues. This does not apply to cases resolved without invoking formal disciplinary procedures.

External Review – The Role of OIA

Following the completion of the appeal procedures provided by this guidance, there is no further right of appeal within the College and the student’s notification will include a ‘Completion of Procedures Letter. If on receipt of a ‘Completion of Procedures Letter’ the student is still dissatisfied with the School’s disciplinary process or how it has been applied to their case, they may submit their concerns to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education (OIA).

 

Next Review Date: October 2022

 
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