Academic misconduct

The University’s academic misconduct procedures help to prevent and address unfair practices such as plagiarism and collusion.

Regulations for academic integrity (PDF)

Types of academic misconduct

Academic misconduct include acts or omissions by a student that have the potential to give an unfair advantage in assessments.

This includes things like:

  • Plagiarism (See Regulations 17 and 18 of the regulations for academic integrity (PDF) for full details).
    This includes inserting words from the work of someone else without acknowledging that it was their work, representing someone else’s work as your own, acquiring work to pass off as your own and assuming the identity of another student in order to mislead or deceive.
  • Failing to declare that a third party has helped in the presentation of your assessed work
  • Getting help from third parties in relation to proof-reading, correcting English or a target language where the learning outcomes include a specific requirement to demonstrate ability in written English or a target language
  • Fabricating results from laboratory or other work or misrepresenting data
  • Taking unauthorised textual materials into an assessment venue or ancillary area such as a cloakroom or toilets. This includes any form of writing on paper or on the body
  • Having an unauthorised mechanical or electronic device on your person within an assessment venue or ancillary area such as a cloakroom or toilets
  • Passing off the work of others as your own during an online assessment
  • Falsely claiming that you have qualifications that you do not validly hold or experience that you have not acquired or falsely claiming that you have undertaken work that you have not.

If you are registered for a taught postgraduate award and you engage in research and research management, please note Regulations 22 of the regulations for academic integrity (PDF) which details further examples of academic misconduct which will apply to you.

Raising concerns

If academic misconduct is suspected, a tutor will consult another academic colleague and they will jointly reach an initial view as to whether they suspect academic misconduct. If one agrees but one does not, a third academic colleague will be asked their view. The following will then occur:

  1. If it is decided that there is no suspicion of academic misconduct, the work is marked as usual and you would not be made aware of this discussion.
  2. If it is decided that there is a suspicion of academic misconduct, the details will be forwarded to the relevant Academic Hive and they will arrange for a formal discussion between you, two Academic Integrity Officers and the marker or module leader. 

    A separate process applies where there is evidence that a student has brought unauthorised material or devices into an assessment venue or ancillary area or has them on their person and has not complied with the requirements for the storage of mechanical or electronic devices. This is outlined in sections 47-55 of the regulations for academic integrity.

Investigating concerns

You would be given 5 working days’ notice of the meeting with the Academic Integrity Officers. You could bring a friend or a Students’ Union representative to the meeting. You and the Academic Integrity Officers will receive details of the allegation and a TURNITIN report (if relevant). Please note, the Academic Integrity Officers will not know about any previous findings of academic misconduct that have been made against you.

What to expect

During the meeting, you will have the opportunity to explain how you approached the assessment task and the Academic Integrity Officers will show you why academic misconduct was suspected. You will also have the opportunity to raise any previously undisclosed special circumstances that may have impacted on your ability to make a rational choice at the time that the work was produced.

Please note, if you do not turn up to a formal discussion with the Academic Integrity Officers, the case could be considered in your absence.

Outcomes of the meeting

The Academic Integrity Officers will write a report deciding one of the following outcomes:

1. That the work does not include material that is the product of academic misconduct

Normally the Academic Integrity Officers will have produced the report within 10 working days of the instance of possible academic misconduct being identified. The report is sent to the Academic Hive contact. Normally, within 5 working days of receiving the report, the Hive contact actions the report. If the work does not include material that is the product of academic misconduct, no further action is taken.

2. That the work includes material that is more likely than not to be the product of poor academic practice rather than academic misconduct

If the work includes material that is more likely than not to be the product of poor academic practice, you will be advised to access advice and support provided by the University’s learning and support services. The finding of poor academic practice will be recorded. If you are found to demonstrated poor academic practice more than once, you will be instructed to meet with your personal tutor or supervisor who will decide how to improve your academic practice. Usually, the work is marked as submitted but there will be recommendations to follow.

3. That the work includes material that is more likely than not to be the product of academic misconduct and there is no evidence of special circumstances

If the work is found to be more likely than not the product of academic misconduct, the Academic Integrity Officers will issue a penalty.

4. That the work includes material that is more likely than not to be the product of academic misconduct and there is evidence of special circumstances

Where the finding is that academic misconduct has been committed and there are special circumstances which clearly demonstrates that the student’s ability to make a rational choice was impaired at the time the misconduct took place, the lead AIO will instruct the relevant Board of Examiners to void the assessment and to allow a new attempt as if for the first time (or second time if the voided attempt was a resit).

5. That the academic misconduct is deemed to be particularly complex, of the highest severity (as detailed in Regulation 23) or is a third offence

The case will be referred for consideration by an Academic Misconduct Panel.

Academic Misconduct Panels

No less than 5 working days before an Academic Misconduct Panel hearing, the Student Administration (Assessment and Awards) Office will write to you to:

  • Tell you the date, time and place of the meeting
  • Give you a copy of the documents that the Panel will consider, including the work in question, earlier drafts of that work, results of analyses by the tutor who marked the work and the Academic Integrity Officer
  • give you a copy of the procedures that the Panel will follow
  • ask you if you wish to provide a written statement or present any special circumstances in mitigation (you must have evidence for this);
  • remind you to seek Students’ Union advice
  • remind you of the penalties the Academic Misconduct Panel can impose.

Please note, the Academic Misconduct Panel will not be told about any previous findings of poor academic practice or academic misconduct against you until after they have made their decision. Then, if relevant, they take this into account when determining a penalty.

Attending a panel hearing

You can attend an Academic Misconduct Panel hearing that is discussing your case in person, via Skype or by telephone.

If you cannot attend an Academic Misconduct Panel hearing, you should respond in writing that you cannot attend. You can still provide a written statement in advance of the Panel meeting. You can also ask a friend or Students’ Union representative to attend as an observer.

If you fail to respond and do not attend, the Academic Misconduct Panel will proceed in your absence.

Outcomes of a panel hearing

The Panel can come to 1 of 5 findings:

  • That the work does not include material that is the product of academic misconduct (no further action taken)
  • That the work includes material that is the product of poor academic practice (the decision is recorded and you are advised to access University learning support services)
  • That the work includes material that is the product of academic misconduct (the Panel will specify a penalty)
  • That the work includes material that is the product of academic misconduct but there is evidence of special circumstances which should be taken into account (the Panel will instruct the relevant Board of Examiners to void the assessment and allow a new first attempt or a new second attempt if the voided attempt was a resit)
  • That in addition to academic misconduct having been identified, that academic misconduct is deemed to be of the highest severity (the Panel may decide that the student should be terminated).

Examples of academic misconduct of the highest severity include:

  • Personation or impersonation at assessment
  • Contract plagiarism
  • Failure to store unauthorised materials and/or devices in the designated spaces in an assessment venue or ancillary area
  • Breach of an agreed ethical protocol.

Penalties issued by Academic Misconduct Panels

Please see page 15 of the regulations for academic integrity (PDF) to view the penalties that an Academic Misconduct Panel can instruct a Board of Examiners to apply.

Appealing outcomes

You can appeal an outcome using the Regulations for academic integrity - appeals.

When making an appeal it is for the student to show that one or more of the grounds below apply:

• that staff or bodies have failed to follow regulations and/or procedures or have failed to follow them with due care

• that staff or bodies have shown bias or prejudice towards the student in the way they have made the relevant decision

• that relevant new evidence has become available that should be considered and there are valid reasons why it was not provided earlier

• that the decision was unreasonable and/or the penalty imposed was not proportionate in all of the circumstances

The standard of proof is that of the balance of probability; that it is more likely than not that something was or was not the case.

An appeal against a decision where only the opinion of academic expert(s) will suffice is deemed to be a challenge to academic judgement and will not be considered.

A student wishing to appeal against the findings or outcome of an academic misconduct process, is required to submit an appeal form (PDF) and any evidence to oscar@surrey.ac.uk within 10 working days of being notified of the decision.