Academic Manual


Student Academic Misconduct Changes 2019-20

Upcoming Changes to the Student Academic Misconduct Procedures in 2019/20

Click here to go to Chapter 6, Section 9: Student Academic Misconduct Procedure 2019-20

Education Committee formed a Working Group in 2018-19 to review and update the UCL's Academic Misconduct Procedures (formerly the 'Examination Irregularities & Plagiarism Procedures'). The Working Group consulted with Chairs of Boards as well as provided opportunities for feedback from a wide range of colleagues via the Exam Board Briefing events in Term 2 and Term 3 on the proposed changes.

The following are some of the key changes that have been agreed by Education Committee for 2019-20:

Update August 2019: The following has been amended:

Under the text has been adjusted to correctly read 'Academic Misconduct Panel', rather than 'Departmental Panel

Under 9.4.5 the line referring to Departental Panel appeals has been moved to correctly sit under the Departmental Panel procedures under 9.4.4.

Contact: academicregulations@ucl.ac.uk

1. Renaming of Procedures

The former title was the ‘Examination Irregularities and Plagiarism Procedures’, which no longer accurately reflects the scope of offences. This be updated to the ‘Student Academic Misconduct Procedures’ so they are wider in scope, and to specifically cover student offences.

2. Structured Table of Penalties

One of the most commonly criticised areas of the former procedures was the lack of guidance on appropriate penalties. Given the size of UCL, this often resulted in inconsistencies in penalties applied in different areas of the institution, even if the offence is the same. A structured table of penalties has now been introduced that limits scope to ensure equitable treatment for students regardless of which Faculty they are studying in.

3. Poor Academic Practice

The introduction of the concept of, and a procedure for, ‘Poor Academic Practice’ and the clarification of the line between that and plagiarism. Its application is also being limited to cases occurring prior to the student receiving teaching or guidance on referencing protocols and academic misconduct by the department, so as to address concerns that the concept may have been used in the past to avoid the application of plagiarism regulations. The current procedure is framed more as a learning tool rather than a punitive measure; for example, by requiring the student to resubmit corrected work. 

4. Teaching and Learning Provisions

The introduction of an online course to help educate students about Academic Misconduct. This has been developed by the IoE and it is intended that it will form part of the Induction offered by departments. All students found to have committed Academic Misconduct (or Poor Academic Practice) will be required to retake it, and meet with the Departmental Tutor, Departmental Graduate Tutor or Programme Leader, to discuss the Academic Misconduct - this replaces the former Informal/Formal Warnings.

5. Greater flexibility on central panel membership

The creation of greater flexibility in central panel membership by including the possibility of Faculty Tutors from the student’s teaching department being permitted to be members of the panel if it is determined that their disciplinary expertise is required on the panel. 

6. Contract Cheating

As a growing issue in the sector, the Working Group discussed Contract Cheating at length and under the new procedures this is tackled by the following:

  • The Departmental Panel can conduct investigatory Vivas, with the Faculty Tutor’s approval, to investigate suspicions of Contract Cheating to escalate to the Academic Misconduct Panel.
  • UCL is testing and investigating new technologies in the area – particularly software that uses forensic linguistics to compare an individual student’s assignments to determine authorship.
  • A zero tolerance approach - as per QAA guidance, proven cases will result in expulsion, on a ‘balance of probabilities’ basis.

7. Adjudication of offences

The former distinction of ‘Minor’ and ‘Major’ caused a great deal of confusion as to where cases should go, and the Adjudication process has been simplified so Departmental Panels in particular can take on some second offences where the extent of the Academic Misconduct is within certain parameters. The new Table of Penalties also make it very clear at a glance where certain cases go.

8. Streamlined Appeals Process

Under the new procedures there have been the following change to the Appeals Process, for each decision:

  • Module Organiser – if grounds for appeal, goes to a Departmental Panel (no change).
  • Departmental Panel – if grounds for appeal, goes to Appeals Panel (change: currently appealed to an Academic Misconduct Panel).
  • Academic Misconduct Panel – appealed to the Appeals Panel (no change).

The grounds for appeal have also been updated due to the introduction of a Table of Penalties. Previously students could appeal on the basis that the penalty was “inappropriate in relation to the offence”. This is no longer applicable if panels adhere to the table of penalties, and the grounds for appeal are now limited to the decision or panel not being conducted in accordance to the procedures, or new evidence being made available that was not available at the time of the original panel.

9. Miscellaneous changes

The following miscellaneous changes are also been made:

  • Making it clear a third attempt at assessment due to Academic Misconduct is not permissible.
  • The clarification of the application of the procedure to study abroad arrangements.
  • The introduction of a statement relating to proofreading and clarifying the distinguishing line between proofreading and academic misconduct. 
  • Working Group in discussions to allow students to have work checked for language and writing under strict criteria.
  • Service standards included to ensure students do not wait longer than necessary to receive a decision – once the student receives notification of an allegation, a panel should be organised within four weeks.

For more information or to provide additional feedback, please email us via: academicregulations@ucl.ac.uk