Page:How to Prepare for a Disciplinary Meeting
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How to Prepare for a Disciplinary Meeting

The following information covers the most common types of University discipline meetings. Under each heading we explain the process, possible outcomes and advice about how you can prepare for the meeting.

If your department thinks you may have used unfair means in an exam or assignment, you will be asked to attend a meeting to discuss this. As a result of the meeting, your department will decide what further action is needed. The outcome of the meeting could affect your academic record so it is important to be well prepared.

How should I prepare?

The letter or email notifying you of the meeting may not provide much information about the concerns, which can make it difficult to know how to prepare. Usually you will be told what module it relates to, but not what the specific problem is.

  • It is worth looking over the work in question to see if you can identify any mistakes.
  • Collate notes/draft versions and library records, if you have them. Bring them to the meeting if they help explain your study methods.
  • If you have used unfair means, either deliberately or accidentally, it is important to consider the reasons for this so that you can explain your situation clearly at the meeting.
  • Obtain evidence of any extenuating circumstances that you want to be taken into account. But you will need to be able to demonstrate how these are relevant to the work in question.
  • Be prepared to listen to the department’s concerns and consider the evidence before responding.
Who will be at the meeting?

The meeting should be attended by at least 2 members of staff from your department. One will be the department Discipline Officer (or equivalent staff role). The module tutor may be there and/or a member of staff to take notes of what is discussed.

Can I bring someone with me?

Yes. If you don’t want to go to the meeting on your own, you can bring a friend or family member for support. But remember; they are not there to speak on your behalf.

If your situation is complex or you have specific support needs, it might be more appropriate to bring an adviser. We are independent from the University, which means we can speak on your behalf. Our availability is limited, so please contact us as soon as possible if you think you need this type of representative support.

You should let your department know in advance of the meeting if you are bringing someone.

What happens at the meeting?

At the meeting, your department will explain to you why it is concerned about your work. You will normally be shown evidence. For example, a copy of the Turnitin report or matching source material. You will be given the opportunity to explain how you produced the piece of work/prepared for the exam, and to explain how any similarities to other work might have occurred..

  • It is vital that you are completely honest about the work in question, even if that means admitting to having used some form of unfair means.
  • The University places great importance on academic integrity. Departments have probably heard every possible (and impossible!) reason over the years, investigating cases like this.
  • The Discipline Officer will be more sympathetic and supportive if you cooperate with the investigation and take responsibility for mistakes made.
  • Admitting mistakes, deliberate or accidental, makes it much easier to explain why you think it has happened.

The meeting can also be a valuable opportunity to get guidance and clarification from your department to avoid repeating mistakes in the future.

What decision can the department make?

At the end of the meeting, the department Discipline Officer will decide whether any further action is needed. You might be told their decision then, or need to wait for a letter/email. Options include -

  • If the Officer is satisfied that your work is your own, it will be marked as normal.
  • A reduced grade for the assignment or entire module
  • Not Completed result for the assignment or entire module
  • If the department penalty means you must re-sit the work, the module will be capped at pass mark
  • Written warning about use of unfair means. This would stay on your student record, but would not appear on your final degree certificate or any transcript of results
  • If the Officer does not feel any of these options are sufficient, you can be referred to the Student Conduct & Appeals Office for your case to be dealt with under the University’s discipline regulations. This will usually involve a summary or full discipline committee meeting
I can’t attend – what should I do?

It is important to attend the meeting if at all possible. If you have good reason for not being available for that date, you should contact your department straight away to ask if the meeting can be rescheduled. If you will not be in Sheffield at the time of the meeting, you can ask to participate via Skype or email.

I disagree with the department’s decision – what can I do?

You have the right to challenge the decision by making an academic appeal.

If the misconduct relates to University owned or partnership housing, you will normally be asked to attend an Accommodation Services discipline meeting to discuss this. As a result of the meeting, Accommodation Services will decide what further action is needed.

How should I prepare?

You will receive a letter notifying you of the meeting, including some information about the misconduct concerns. You should get at least 3 working days’ notice of the meeting to give you enough time to prepare for it. Many students find it helpful to send a written response in advance of the meeting. When writing this statement or simply preparing for the meeting, the following points are important to consider:

  • Read the information you have received carefully so that you fully understand the concerns.
  • Make it clear whether you accept or deny the alleged misconduct.
  • If you accept the misconduct, explain how and why the situation occurred. Try to avoid making excuses or trying to blame anyone else for your own behaviour.
  • It is important to take responsibility and apologise for things that have done wrong, even if it was an accident. The University will be a lot more supportive if you can demonstrate that you understand why your behaviour is not acceptable and have learnt from the experience.
  • Include evidence of any extenuating circumstances that you want to be taken into account. And make sure you explain how this is relevant to the incident in question.
  • If you are denying all or part of the misconduct, carefully explain your reasons for this. Where possible, provide evidence. For example if you were not in the accommodation at the time of an incident, can you prove you were elsewhere?
  • There is no right or wrong length for your written statement, but as a rough guide try to keep it to no longer than 2 pages.
Who will be at the meeting?

The meeting should be attended by at least 2 members of staff from Accommodation Services. One will be a Residential Life Coordinator (or equivalent staff role) who will chair the meeting. The other member of staff will take notes of what is discussed and may also contribute to the discussion.

Can I bring someone with me?

Yes. If you don’t want to go to the meeting on your own, you can bring a friend or family member for support. But remember; they are not there to speak on your behalf.

If your situation is complex or you have specific support needs, it might be more appropriate to bring an adviser. We are independent from the University, which means we can speak on your behalf. Our availability is limited, so please contact us as soon as possible if you think you need this type of representative support.

You should let Accommodation Services know in advance of the meeting if you are bringing someone.

What happens at the meeting?

The meeting is a formal procedure covered by the University Discipline Regulations. At the meeting, the Residential Life Coordinator will explain to you why it is concerned about your behaviour and explain the purpose of the meeting. You will normally be shown the relevant evidence. For example, a copy of incident or security reports, photographs or statements from other students.  You will have the opportunity to ask questions and to respond to the concerns of misconduct.

  • When you are asked to respond to the concerns, it is vital that you are completely honest, even if that means admitting to having done something wrong.

  • Accommodation Services has a lot of experience investigating misconduct cases, and has probably heard every possible (and impossible!) explanation over the years.

  • Your cooperation will help get things sorted out as quickly and simply as possible.

  • Also admitting mistakes, deliberate or accidental makes it much easier to explain why it happened.

  • However, if you have not done anything wrong it is equally important that you try to simply and clearly explain that you were not involved.

What decision can Accommodation Services make?

At the end of the meeting, the Residential Life Coordinator will decide whether any further action is needed. You might normally be asked to wait outside the meeting while they consider the matter, then go back in to hear what they have decided. The decision will then be confirmed by letter to you.  Possible outcomes include one or more of the following -

  • If the Officer is satisfied you have not done anything wrong, the charges will be dropped and no further action will be taken.

  • You might be asked to give an undertaking (a written promise) about future behaviour. Breaking that undertaking would be automatically regarded as misconduct and lead to further disciplinary action.

  • An undertaking may include other conditions. For example you may be required to write a letter of apology or do some voluntary work.

  • You can be fined a maximum of £200.00.

  • You can be required to pay a maximum of £500.00 compensation.

  • You can be excluded from all or part of University owned or partnership accommodation.  

  • If the Officer does not feel any of these options are sufficient, you can be referred to the Student Conduct & Appeals Office for your case to be dealt with under the University’s discipline regulations. This will usually involve a meeting with a Discipline Committee.

I can’t attend – what should I do?

It is important to attend the meeting if at all possible. If you have good reason for not being available for that date, you should contact Accommodation Services straight away to ask if the meeting can be rescheduled. If you will not be in Sheffield at the time of the meeting, you can ask to participate via Skype or email.  

I disagree with Accommodation Service’s decision – what can I do?

You have the right to challenge the decision if you feel the process was not conducted fairly, the decision is too severe or you have new evidence that you were unable to provide earlier that you believe is relevant to the decision. An appeal must be made in writing, within 15 working days of the decision you wish to challenge.  

The Accommodation Services discipline decision letter should include information about how to make your appeal. If you need further advice about appealing, please contact the Student Advice Centre to speak to our academic advisers.

The University has a ‘fast track’ administrative procedure to deal with less serious cases of behavioural misconduct. This involves a meeting with a University investigating officer to discuss the concerns.  As a result of the meeting, he/she will decide what further action is needed.

How should I prepare?

You will receive a letter from the Student Conduct & Appeals Office notifying you of the meeting, including some information about the misconduct concerns. You should get at least 3 working days’ notice of the meeting to give you enough time to prepare for it. Many students find it helpful to send a written response in advance of the meeting.  When writing this statement or simply preparing for the meeting, the following points are important to consider:

  •   Read the information you have received carefully so that you fully understand the concerns.

  •   Make it clear whether you accept or deny the alleged misconduct.

  • If you accept the misconduct, explain how and why the situation occurred. Try to avoid making excuses or trying to blame anyone else for your own behaviour.

  • It is important to take responsibility and apologise for things that have done wrong, even if it was an accident. The University will be a lot more supportive if you can demonstrate that you understand why your behaviour is not acceptable and have learnt from the experience.

  • Include evidence of any extenuating circumstances that you want to be taken into account. And make sure you explain how this is relevant to the incident in question.

  • If you are denying all or part of the misconduct, carefully explain your reasons for this. Where possible, provide evidence.  If you were somewhere else at the time of the incident, can you prove this?

  • There is no right or wrong length for your written statement, but as a rough guide try to keep it to no longer than 2 pages.

Who will be at the meeting?

The meeting should be normally be attended by 2 members of University staff. One will be the investigating officer who will chair the meeting. The other member of staff, from Student Services will take notes of what is discussed and may also contribute to the discussion.  

Can I bring someone with me?

Yes. If you don’t want to go to the meeting on your own, you can bring a friend or family member for support. But remember; they are not there to speak on your behalf.

If your situation is complex or you have specific support needs, it might be more appropriate to bring an adviser. We are independent from the University, which means we can speak on your behalf. Our availability is limited, so please contact us as soon as possible if you think you need this type of representative support.

You should let the Student Conduct & Appeals Office know in advance of the meeting if you are bringing someone.

What happens at the meeting?

The meeting is a formal procedure covered by the University Discipline Regulations. At the meeting, the investigating officer will explain to you why it is concerned about your behaviour and explain the purpose of the meeting. You will normally be shown the relevant evidence. For example, a copy of incident or security reports, photographs or statements from other students.  You will have the opportunity to ask questions and to respond to the concerns of misconduct.

  • When you are asked to respond to the concerns, it is vital that you are completely honest, even if that means admitting to having done something wrong.

  • The University has a lot of experience investigating misconduct cases, and has probably heard every possible(and impossible!) excuse over the years.

  • Your cooperation will help get things sorted out as quickly and simply as possible.

  • Also admitting mistakes, deliberate or accidental makes it much easier to explain why it happened.

  • However, if you have not done anything wrong it is equally important that you try to simply and clearly explain that you were not involved.

What decision can the investigating officer make?

At the end of the meeting, the Investigating will decide whether any further action is needed. You might normally be asked to wait outside the meeting while they consider the matter, then go back in to hear what they have decided. The decision will then be confirmed by letter to you.  Possible outcomes include one or more of the following -

  • If the Officer is satisfied you have not done anything wrong, the charges will be dropped and no further action will be taken.

  • You might be asked to give an undertaking (a written promise) about future behaviour. Breaking that undertaking would be automatically regarded as misconduct and lead to further disciplinary action.

  • An undertaking may include other conditions. For example you may be required to write a letter of apology.

  • You can be fined a maximum of £200.00.

  • You can be required to pay a maximum of £500.00 compensation.

  • If the Officer does not feel any of these options are sufficient or you have denied the charge(s) you can be referred to the Student Conduct & Appeals Office for your case to be dealt with under the University’s discipline regulations. This will usually involve a meeting with a Discipline Committee.

I can’t attend – what should I do?

It is important to attend the meeting if at all possible. If you have good reason for not being available for that date, you should contact the Student Conduct & Appeals Office straight away to ask if the meeting can be rescheduled. If you will not be in Sheffield at the time of the meeting, you can ask to participate via Skype or email.  

I disagree with the officer’s decision – what can I do?

You have the right to challenge the decision if you feel the process was not conducted fairly, the decision is too severe or you have new evidence that you were unable to provide earlier that you believe is relevant to the decision. An appeal must be made in writing, within 15 working days of the decision you wish to challenge.  

The Administrative Procedure decision letter should include information about how to make your appeal. If you need further advice about appealing, please contact the Student Advice Centre to speak to our academic advisers.

You may be referred to a summary discipline meeting if you have admitted a charge of academic and non-academic misconduct but lower level penalties are not felt to be sufficient. You will be asked to attend a meeting with the Chair of the Discipline Panel to discuss the charge.  As a result of the meeting, the Chair will decide what further action is needed.

How should I prepare?

You will receive a letter from the Student Conduct & Appeals Office, informing you about the misconduct concerns. The letter will include a form that you are required to complete and return, saying that you admit or deny the charge(s). If you admit the charge(s), you will receive a date to attend the summary discipline meeting. You should get at least 5 working days’ notice of the meeting to give you enough time to prepare for it. If you deny that charge(s), the University will usually refer the case to full discipline committee instead of a summary meeting.

We advise that you prepare a written response in advance of the meeting. You should provide this to the Student Conduct & Appeals Office at least 3 working days before the meeting. When writing this statement or simply preparing for the meeting, the following points are important to consider:

  • Before the meeting you will receive a copy of all the evidence that will be considered by the Chair. It is important to read this carefully so that you fully understand the concerns.

  • If you accept the misconduct, explain how and why the situation occurred. Try to avoid making excuses or trying to blame anyone else for your own behaviour.

  • It is important to take responsibility and apologise for things that have done wrong, even if it was an accident. The University will be a lot more supportive if you can demonstrate that you understand why your behaviour is not acceptable and have learnt from the experience.

  • Include evidence of any extenuating circumstances that you want to be taken into account. And make sure you explain how this is relevant to the incident in question.

  • There is no right or wrong length for your written statement. But as a rough guide try to keep it to no longer than 2 pages.

Who will be at the meeting?

The meeting will be attended by the Chair of the Discipline Panel and a ‘presenting officer’ from the Student Conduct & Appeals Office. There may also be an addition person to take notes of what is discussed.  

Can I bring someone with me?

Yes. If you don’t want to go to the meeting on your own, you can bring a friend or family member for support. But remember; they are not there to speak on your behalf.

Because of the formal nature of this meeting and potentially serious outcomes, it might be more appropriate to bring an adviser. We are independent from the University, which means we can speak on your behalf and have a lot of experience supporting students with discipline meetings. Our availability is limited, so please contact us as soon as possible if you think you need this type of representative support.

Sometimes is it also appropriate to bring other people as witnesses, if they are able to provide relevant evidence to help support your response to the charges.

You should let the Student Conduct & Appeals Office know in advance of the meeting if you are bringing someone.

What happens at the meeting?

The meeting is a formal procedure covered by the University Discipline Regulations. At the meeting, the presenting officer will read out the charge. The Chair will then ask you to confirm whether you deny or admit this.

  • If you deny the charge, the meeting will usually end at that point so that your case can be referred to full discipline committee.

  • If you accept the charge, the Chair will ask the presenting officer to outline the facts of the case & recommend penalty. The presenting officer will refer to the committee papers, so it is useful to take the set you have received with you to the meeting.

  • You will then be asked to respond to what the presenting officer has said. It is vital that you are completely honest, even if that means admitting to having done something wrong. This is your opportunity to raise any information or evidence you want to be taken into account. Your written statement will be included in the committee papers, so you can refer to this too. If you take an adviser to the meeting with you, normally they will speak on your behalf at this point.

  • The Chair may ask you or the presenting officer questions to make sure he or she fully understands all the relevant information.

What decision can the Chair make?

At the end of the meeting, the Chair will decide what action is needed. You will be asked to wait outside the room while the Chair considers the case. You, your representative and the presenting officer will then go back in to be told the decision. You will get a letter within a few days of the meeting, confirming the outcome.  Possible outcomes include one or more of the following -

  • Reprimand - a formal written warning that is recorded on your student record.

  • You might be asked to give an undertaking (a written promise) about future behaviour. Breaking that undertaking would be automatically regarded as misconduct and lead to further disciplinary action.

  • An undertaking may include other conditions. For example you may be required to write a letter of apology or do some voluntary work.

  • If the misconduct relates to use of unfair means, the Chair can refuse credit or reduce the grade for the affected piece or work/module.

  • You can be fined a maximum of £200.00.

  • You can be required to pay a maximum of £500.00 compensation.

  • If the Officer does not feel any of these options are sufficient, you can be referred to the Student Conduct & Appeals Office for your case to be dealt with under the University’s discipline regulations. This will usually involve a meeting with a Discipline Committee.

I can’t attend – what should I do?

It is important to attend the meeting if at all possible. If you have good reason for not being available for that date, you should contact the Student Conduct & Appeals Office straight away to ask if the meeting can be rescheduled. If you will not be in Sheffield at the time of the meeting, you can ask to participate via Skype.  

I disagree with the Chair's decision – what can I do?

You have the right to challenge the decision if you feel the process was not conducted fairly, the decision is too severe or you have new evidence that you were unable to provide earlier that you believe is relevant to the decision. An appeal must be made in writing, within 15 working days of the decision you wish to challenge.  

The decision letter should include information about how to make your appeal. If you need further advice about appealing, please contact the Student Advice Centre to speak to our academic advisers.

You will be referred to a full discipline meeting if the University feels that the misconduct concerns are too serious to be dealt with under lower level procedures, or you have denied a charge of academic and non-academic misconduct. You will be asked to attend a meeting with the University discipline committee so that the committee can consider all the facts and decide what further action is needed.

How should I prepare?

You will receive a letter from the Student Conduct & Appeals Office, informing you that you have been referred to discipline committee. There will include a form that you are required to complete and return, confirming your response to the charge. You should be given at least 15 working days’ notice of the meeting to give you enough time to prepare for it.  

We recommend that you prepare a written response in advance of the meeting. You should provide this to the Student Conduct & Appeals Office at least 3 working days before the meeting. When writing this statement or simply preparing for the meeting, the following points are important to consider:

  • Before the meeting you will receive a copy of all the evidence that will be considered by the discipline committee. It is important to read this carefully so that you fully understand the concerns.

  • If you accept the misconduct, explain how and why the situation occurred. Try to avoid making excuses or trying to blame anyone else for your own behaviour.

  • It is important to take responsibility and apologise for things that have done wrong, even if it was an accident. The University will be a lot more supportive if you can demonstrate that you understand why your behaviour is not acceptable and have learnt from the experience.

  • Include evidence of any extenuating circumstances that you want to be taken into account. And make sure you explain how this is relevant to the incident in question.

  • If you are denying all or part of the misconduct, carefully explain your reasons for this. Where possible, provide evidence to support what you are saying.

  • There is no right or wrong length for your written statement. As a rough guide try to keep it to no longer than 2 pages.

Who will be at the meeting?

There will be 5 people on the discipline committee; the Chair, 2 other staff members and 2 student members. There will be a secretary to take notes of what is discussed. There is a presenting officer whose job is to explain to the committee why you have been referred and to recommend penalties. The secretary and presenting officer do not make any decisions about the outcome of the case. The presenting officer may bring witnesses to help explain the facts of the case. For example, the department unfair means officer in a case of academic misconduct.

Can I bring someone with me?

Yes. If you don’t want to go to the meeting on your own, you can bring a friend or family member for support. But remember; they are not there to speak on your behalf.

Because of the formal nature of this meeting and potentially serious outcomes, it might be more appropriate to bring an adviser. We are independent from the University, which means we can speak on your behalf and have a lot of experience supporting students with discipline meetings. Our availability is limited, so please contact us as soon as possible if you think you need this type of representative support.

Sometimes is it also appropriate to bring other people as witnesses, if they are able to provide relevant evidence to help support your response to the charges.

You should let the Student Conduct & Appeals Office know in advance of the meeting if you are bringing someone.

What happens at the meeting?

The meeting is a formal procedure covered by the University Discipline Regulations. At the meeting, the presenting officer will read out the charge. The Chair will then ask you to confirm whether you deny or admit this.

  • The Chair will ask the presenting officer to outline the facts of the case & recommend penalty. The presenting officer will refer to the committee papers, so it is useful to take the set you have received with you to the meeting.

  • If you have denied the charge(s), the committee will make a decision about this before considering the question of penalty.

  • You will be asked to respond to what the presenting officer has said. It is vital that you are completely honest, even if that means admitting to having done something wrong. This is your opportunity to raise any information or evidence you want to be taken into account. Your written statement will be included in the committee papers, so you can refer to this too. If you take an adviser to the meeting with you, normally they will speak on your behalf at this point.

  • The committee may ask you or the presenting officer questions to make sure they fully understand all the relevant information.

What decision can the committee make?

At the end of the meeting, the committee will decide what action is needed. You will be asked to wait outside the room while they consider the case. You, your representative and the presenting officer will then go back in to be told the decision. You will get a letter within a few days of the meeting, confirming the outcome.  Possible outcomes include one or more of the following -

  • If the committee accepts you did not do anything wrong, no further action will be taken.

  • Reprimand - a formal written warning that is recorded on your student record.

  • You might be asked to give an undertaking (a written promise) about future behaviour. Breaking that undertaking would be automatically regarded as misconduct and lead to further disciplinary action.

  • An undertaking may include other conditions. For example you may be required to write a letter of apology or do some voluntary work.

  • If the misconduct relates to use of unfair means, the committee can refuse credit or reduce the grade for the affected piece or work/module. The committee can refuse your right to resit the affected piece of work. Postgraduate research students can downgraded to Masters.

  • You can be fined a maximum of £750.00.

  • You can be required to pay a maximum of £1000.00 compensation.

  • You can be excluded from all or part of the University, permanently or for a set period of time.

  • You can be suspended from attendance at University for a set period of time.

  • The committee also has the power to expel you permanently from the University.

I can’t attend – what should I do?

It is important to attend the meeting if at all possible. If you have good reason for not being available for that date, you should contact the Student Conduct & Appeals Office straight away to ask if the meeting can be rescheduled. If you will not be in Sheffield at the time of the meeting, you can ask to participate via Skype.  

I disagree with the committee’s decision – what can I do?

You have the right to challenge the decision if you feel the process was not conducted fairly, the decision is too severe or you have new evidence that you were unable to provide earlier that you believe is relevant to the decision. An appeal must be made in writing, within 15 working days of the decision you wish to challenge.  

The decision letter should include information about how to make your appeal. If you need further advice about appealing, please contact the Student Advice Centre to speak to our academic advisers.