What is an academic offence?
An academic offence may be defined as any attempt by a student, or any attempt by an individual to aid a student, to gain an unfair advantage in any assessment (including an assessment of practice or an assessment in practice) by deception or fraudulent means.
Why have I been asked to attend a panel?
The purpose of an academic offence panel is for staff and the student(s) to discuss causes of concern within a student’s assessment and then a panel of staff decide on what the best course of action is. You have been asked to attend as an issue has been found within your work and the Faculty would like to understand what has occurred.
Plagiarism is the most common academic offence committed by BU students. This can be due to poor referencing, lack of understanding or done intentionally. Check out this video on plagiarism to ensure you don't end up attending an academic offence panel.
What does a panel look like?
The panels are formal meetings but are usually managed as informally as possible to ensure the student is comfortable. A set agenda is followed to ensure all students are treated the same and they usually take place in seminar/teaching rooms. There are Faculty Academic Offence Panels and University Academic Offence Boards. A University-level panel is more serious as the penalties available to the Board are more severe, although it does not necessarily mean that they will choose the most severe penalties available to them.
What documents should I have to help me prepare for the panel?
You should normally have 10 working days’ notice of the panel and be provided with a set of documents normally at least 5 working days before the panel. The documentation may include
- Notes of a Preliminary Consideration meeting
- Complete annotated assessment, excluding any mark and any feedback to the student
- Electronic copy of the assessment under consideration (if required)
- Evidence (e.g. website copies of source material)
- Unit Guide / Assessment Brief
- Witness Statements
- A copy of 6H - Academic Offences: Policy and Procedure for Taught Awards
- If you have been found guilty of an academic offence before, the report from that panel will also be included
Contact SUBU Advice if you have not been provided with any of these documents.
Can I take someone with me?
You are able to take one person in with you to the panel. SUBU Advice would suggest that this is one of us – a trained Advice Worker who is used to attending such Panels, and who understands the rules and regulations of the University. If, however, you would prefer to take a family member or friend instead you are able to do so.
What do I do if I’m unable to attend the panel?
Where possible we strongly advise that you attend the panel. If this isn’t possible (health issues, bereavement, out of the country etc…) then you can request it is conducted via Skype, or that it is postponed until a time you can attend. Ultimately, a SUBU Advice Worker can represent you in your absence and you would need to inform the Faculty that you are unable to attend and that we will be representing you.
In order to represent you, the SUBU Advice Worker will need a copy of all the documents provided to you and a written statement from you that addresses the evidence. We can support you in writing this statement and discuss your case in detail to ensure we understand everything and can put your views across. We will contact you to inform you of the outcome as soon as practically possible after the panel has sat.
What do I write in my statement?
A student has the opportunity to present their side of the issue by submitting a statement regarding the case. We have a few guidelines to help you and would request that when you have finished the statement you let us check it over, prior to submitting it. Submitting it early means the panel can read your statement prior to the panel and this may save time and emotion for you on the day.
- Try to keep this to one page of A4
- Be open and honest – did you intend to do what they are accusing you of?
- Explain how you prepared for the assignment/exam/group work
- Explain what you would do next time to avoid this situation again
- If the offence is related to plagiarism, state what information you have been given about plagiarism and your understanding of plagiarism
If you have had any personal issues you have not made the University aware of – now is the time to tell them. They will treat it with confidence so please be honest. If you have already applied for exceptional circumstances and this had an impact on the work in question ensure you mention this in your statement. If you have yet to submit exceptional circumstances then you should complete the Exceptional Circumstances Form and submit this to your Programme Support Officer.
If you are not from the UK and your academic culture is different from ours, consider if this has had an impact and on your understanding of academic rules and regulations.
Submit any supporting evidence to back up your claims, e.g. witness statements, previous assignment drafts, screen shots of document properties.
What do I wear to the panel?
Please attend the panel dressed smartly, as if you were attending a job interview. If you feel you may cry or get angry during the meeting then please prepare yourself for managing these emotions on the day e.g. bring tissues and request breaks during the panel when you feel it is getting too much.
What are the potential outcomes?
The potential outcomes are explained in Appendix 2 of the Academic Offences Policy and Procedure for Taught Awards. Refer to Appendix 1 to help you identify what potential penalties there are for the offence you have been accused of. If the panel believe an offence has occurred then the offence will be deemed either minor or major. There may be an indication of whether the Faculty are considering your case as minor or major in the preliminary notes. Please be aware that this is an indication and the panel may decide on the day that although the preliminary meeting stated minor, they may decide it is in fact a major offence and will act accordingly.
If after reading the Academic Appeals Policy and Procedure you find out that you are being accused of a major offence, it is still possible to receive a minor penalty and visa versa. Please ensure to refer to 6H Academic Offences Policy and Procedure for Taught Awards.