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Important Academic Misconduct Updates

10 December 2021

Find out about all the recent updates to UCL’s Academic Misconduct Procedures

Student Academic Misconduct updates for 2022-23

December 2021 updates

Online Assessment Misconduct 

UCL has now introduced a new category of ‘Online Assessment Misconduct’ which will be adjudicated by the Central Academic Misconduct Panel and will potentially result in Expulsion. This has been added to emphasise that UCL takes Academic Misconduct in online assessments very seriously. The categories included are: 

  • Any use of unauthorised material. 
  • Any unauthorised communication or attempted communication with other students or third parties in relation to the assessment.
  • Discussion or sharing of assessment content with other students or third parties. 
  • Unauthorised collaboration with other students or third parties. 
  • Copying or attempting to copy from another student’s work. 
  • Any attempt to confer with or gain access to the script of any other candidate during the period of the assessment. 

This is now published and can be found under paragraph 9.2 Definitions within the Student Academic Misconduct Procedures

Recent QAA Briefing on Contract Cheating 

The QAA recently published a briefing to support members identify the potential use of essay mills. The briefing has been developed following an analysis of documents QAA received from the Australian Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA) under the terms of a memorandum of understanding between the two agencies. 

You may find this briefing useful in helping to identify cases and to be able to spot some of the common themes that might be indicative of assessments that are produced by essay mills. 

The briefing is available via the QAA’s Membership Resources site, which all UCL staff can gain access to for free using your staff email. 

Important Reminder: Adjudication of Casework 

In 2019-20 the Student Academic Misconduct Procedures were overhauled, and some changes to the Adjudication Process were introduced. This also included the concept of ‘Poor Academic Practice’ when a student had committed Plagiarism before receiving any guidance or teaching on Academic Integrity. 

It is important that the Module Convenor, but also the Secretary to any panel process, ensures that the correct Adjudication is being followed as this has downstream effects on student Appeals and Complaints. 

The Adjudication and Penalty Framework Table provides all of the details of who must adjudicate each kind of offence. 

Important reminder: For instances of Plagiarism, it is important to note that when determining the extent of plagiarised material this should not be made on the basis of the Turnitin score alone. Turnitin scores can be a relevant tool in the initial detection of Plagiarism, but the full extent of Plagiarism it is a matter of academic judgment to be made by the Module Convenor. 

If there is any doubt, please contact academicregulations@ucl.ac.uk for further advice. 

Expedited Academic Misconduct Process 2021-22 

The Expedited Academic Misconduct Process has been extended for the 2021-22 academic year. The process is the same as it was during 2020-21 and was originally designed to help manage the workload across UCL in relation to Academic Misconduct casework and allows case to be resolved without the need for a panel within certain conditions. 

The full process can be found in Covid-19 Academic Misconduct Changes 

Investigatory Viva Report Form 

A new form has been added to Chapter 6 designed as a supplement to the Academic Misconduct Report Form to help guide staff in submitting an Investigatory Viva Report to the Academic Misconduct Panel for consideration. Previously information had been submitted in a variety of different formats, so this will hopefully be a useful addition for staff.  

The form is available on Chapter 6: Annex 6.9.2 Investigatory Viva Report Form 

Student Resources 

UCL’s Academic Integrity resources have also been updated for 2021-22. Please refer to the following articles for further information: 

Updated Student Academic Integrity Website

New Student Academic Integrity Course

July 2021 updates

In 2019/20 the Academic Misconduct procedures were reviewed, and several significant updates were introduced such as a structured penalty table, provisions for Contract Cheating, a clear adjudication process, provisions for Poor Academic Practice, and a streamlined Appeals process. 

In response to staff feedback during 2020/21, several minor amendments and improvements designed to enhance the new Academic Misconduct procedures further have been introduced for implementation from 2021/22 onwards. All the amendments have been outlined below: 

Adjudication Table – Amendments

Extent of Misconduct: Under 9.3, the ‘Extent of Misconduct’ column in the Adjudication Table has been amended to remove the AND/OR clauses so offences are categorised based only on the %offending material rather than also considering the %weighting of the assessment in relation to the module. This has been amended due to a number of cases where there were cases of plagiarism with a low percentage of offending material but a very high, often 100%, percentage weighting which was resulting in a disproportion penalty. 

Removal of 2020/21 temporary amendment: The temporary amendment which allowed deviation from the guidance with Faculty approval where it was felt the penalty was inappropriate given the circumstances has now been removed. This is no longer needed due to Amendment 1. 

Penalty Table now a ‘Framework’: Under 9.3 the penalty table was originally referred to as ‘Adjudication and Penalty Guidance’ during the first year of operation to enable a degree of flexibility. This has now been changed to ‘Framework’ alongside references to this throughout the procedures to ensure that there is more consistency in the penalties being applied across the institution and ensures the procedures are explicit in terms of what is permissible under normal circumstances. 

Table row tidy-up: Under the ‘Description of Offence’ column ‘Examination Misconduct’, ‘Any attempt to gain access to or use the assessed work of another candidate without that candidate’s knowledge’, and ‘Any attempt to tamper with coursework after submission’ have been collapsed into the same row as those of Plagiarism, Collusion, and Falsification 2nd offences to remove unnecessary repetition given the penalties are the same at the Academic Misconduct Panel level. 

New regulations:  

Chapter 6: Student Casework Framework

  • 9.3 Adjudication and Penalty Framework, ‘Extent of Misconduct’ column

  • 9.3 Adjudication and Penalty Framework, title and throughout where referenced 

  • 9.3 Adjudication and Penalty Framework, ‘Description of Offence’ column 


Departmental Panel Amendments  

Membership: A paragraph has been added which allows a member of staff from the Department directly involved in the teaching of the affected module(s) to join the panel in an advisory capacity when disciplinary expertise is required in an advisory capacity. As membership of Investigatory Vivas panels is the same as the membership of the Departmental Panel, this also allows someone with disciplinary expertise to take part in Investigatory Vivas. 

Departmental Panel Adjudication: It has now been made clear with the inclusion of ‘owning the affected module’ under ‘Departmental Panel’ within the ‘Procedures’ column so it is clear who Adjudicates cases. This change is to avoid confusion as to who adjudicates in instances where students may be taking a module outside of their home department. 

Casting Vote: A paragraph has been added under the Departmental Panel section so that decisions are to be made on a majority vote by the panel and in the case of a tie the Chair will have the casting vote. This adopts standard procedure in resolving ties which was previously not explicitly within the procedures. Note: This change has also been added to the Academic Misconduct Panel procedures. 

Expanding Investigatory Vivas to Collusion cases: Investigatory Vivas have now been expanded to allow an Investigatory Viva to take place when there are allegations of collusion. Staff feedback indicated this would be helpful where there are claims by one students of unauthorised access to their work by another, rather than collusion. An Investigatory Viva within this context may be a useful tool in determining some Collusion cases. 

New regulations:  

Chapter 6: Student Casework Framework

  • 9.4.4 Departmental Panel, paragraph 4 iv) 

  • 9.3 Adjudication and Penalty Framework, ‘Procedures’ column 

  • 9.4.4 Departmental Panel, paragraph 9 

  • 9.4.7 Academic Misconduct Panel, paragraph 11 

  • 9.4.5 Departmental Panel – Investigatory Viva (Contract Cheating and Collusion) 


Definitions – Additions and Amendments 

File Sharing: A new category of Academic Misconduct has been added which covers ‘File Sharing’ as an offence. This has been included to cover cases where Files have been Shared, which has led to Collusion due to onward sharing of files. This makes it explicit that File Sharing is only permitted as part of authorised collaboration. 

Self-Plagiarism: The definition for Self-Plagiarism has been expanded so it can, where permitted, allow the use of other formative work beyond drafts of the particular assessment. This change retains the default position that formative drafts for a particular assessment are not Self-Plagiarism but allows some discretion in permitting use of formatives beyond this in cases where not allowing this could create some disciplinary-specific challenges (e.g., in Laws the issue has arisen in terms of using commentary on cases or statute provisions which need to be referred to in different assessments). 

Impersonation in any form of Assessment: A new paragraph has been under added which covers Impersonation (or attempted/soliciting) in any form of assessment rather than just being restricted to ‘Examination Room Misconduct’. 

Software and Translation: A new paragraph under ‘Language and Writing Review’ now covers software and language translation. Language and Writing review currently allow a third-party to check areas of academic writing, so this inclusion expands this to explicitly also allow software under the same restrictions i.e., Word or Grammarly checkers. A restriction has been added so this does not apply to assessments involving translation or use of another language other than English. 

New regulations:  

Chapter 6: Student Casework Framework

  • 9.2 Definitions, paragraphs 1 c), 2c), 1j), and 2b) 


Third party evidence verification 

It has been clarified with the addition of a new paragraph that the relevant Adjudicator may verify third party evidence in cases of Falsification (i.e., medical evidence) with the provider as long as obligations to confidentiality are maintained at all times. 

New regulations:  

Chapter 6: Student Casework Framework

  • 9.1 Introduction and Scope of Application, paragraph 17 


Extenuating Circumstances and determination of Academic Misconduct 

A new paragraph now makes it explicit that Extenuating Circumstances will not normally be considered relevant in determining whether Academic Misconduct has occurred, and that Extenuating Circumstances and Academic Misconduct decisions can run in parallel and neither outcome is reliant on the other to be completed.  

New regulations:  

Chapter 6: Student Casework Framework

  • 9.1 Introduction and Scope of Application, paragraph 18 


Appeals Amendments 

Unintentional and Accidental claims of Academic Misconduct: A new paragraph now makes it explicit that claims that Academic Misconduct was unintentional or accidental cannot be considered as acceptable excuses for the misconduct. 

Additional ground for appeal: A new ground for appeal has been added for when a decision was not reasonable given the circumstances of the case. 

Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education (OIA): A new section has been added to cover OIA complaints. 

New regulations:  

Chapter 6: Student Casework Framework

  • 9.1 Introduction and Scope of Application, paragraph 19 

  • 9.5 Appeals Process, paragraph 1 i) 

  • 9.6 Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education 



For further information please contact academicregulations@ucl.ac.uk