Here at the Advice Service we can offer you independent advice on your Academic problems. Whether that be an accusation of Academic Misconduct, an Appeal or the implications of taking time out of study. Please have a look at our FAQ's below and for further information please contact us.
Academic Misconduct can refer to many things including plagiarism / self-plagiarism, cheating in exams, falsifying research data and collusion.
If you have been accused of academic misconduct, you should receive an invitation to a meeting at which the allegation will be explained to you fully and you will be asked for a full and honest explanation of what happened.
You should write a statement about the piece of work concerned, our service can help you with this. Contact us and we can help check what you have written and advise you further.
You should always try to attend the meeting - if you really can't attend, you should let the University know and should submit a statement in advance. Otherwise a decision will be made in your absence and your voice won't be heard.
There are two types of meeting relating to issues of academic conduct:
Academic Cause for Concern meeting
This meeting is normally for students in their first year of study at the university. It involves allegations of poor academic practice such as a lack of understanding of academic protocols and referencing. Your Course Leader (or a nominee) and a Secretary from Registry Services will attend. The Module Leader or marker may also be there. There will be a written record of the meeting. You will be asked to answer to the concern which has been raised about your work. It is advisable to take with you any notes which you used in the preparation and production of your piece of work.
The possible outcomes of an Academic Concern meeting are:
- No further action will be taken.
- An informal warning, this will remain on your file for the rest of your course. It will not be referred to in any reference requests. It will be taken into consideration in any future allegations. Your work will be given a mark.
- The allegation is referred to an Academic Conduct Panel (see below).
Academic Conduct Panel meeting
This meeting is for more serious allegations and for students who are not new to study. The Panel should consist of at least two members of staff; a Chair and at least one member of academic staff. None of the staff on your panel should have had any involvement in the assessment or be your tutor. There will also be the Presenter, the staff member who made the allegation. There will be a written record of the meeting.
The Presenter will outline the facts and evidence which has led them to the allegation. You will then be able to present your response to these. You can also read out your statement and/or hand it in.
The possible outcomes of an Academic Conduct Panel meeting are:
- No further action will be taken.
- An informal warning: this will remain on your file for the rest of your course. It will not be referred to in any reference requests. It will be taken into consideration in any future allegations. Your work will be given a mark.
- A sanction will be applied to the assessment. The University can impose a range of sanctions against you, some of which may mean that you cannot continue with the course. The full list of sanctions can be found in the University’s Academic Conduct Regulation here . This is located on SHUspace, in the 'University's Terms and Conditions and Student Regulations' section at the bottom of the page, under 'Rules and Regulations', then under 'Conduct and Discipline'.
An adviser from the Students' Union Advice Service can accompany you to an Academic Conduct Panel meeting (depending on availability).
The University will not excuse misconduct because you were experiencing difficult circumstances at the time - however, explaining what was going on for you can help the University understand your perspective and the mitigating circumstances can be taken into account in relation to the sanction awarded.
For more detailed information, read the University's regulations.
> I’ve received a decision or a mark I don’t agree with. Is there anything I can do?
You can appeal some University decisions, but only on specific grounds (reasons) and within a 10 working day deadline.
Appealing a grade or mark:
You can only appeal if:
There has been an error or irregularity in the marking process or if the assessment regulations haven't been applied properly.
So, for example, you can appeal a mark if you can demonstrate that some of your work wasn't considered. Or, as another example, if your work was marked according to the module criteria for a previous academic year.
You cannot appeal a grade or mark just because you disagree with it or feel it is unfair. You cannot appeal academic judgement.
Appealing a decision not to award a RRAA:
The Extenuating Circumstances (EC) Panel considers your Request for a Repeat Assessment Attempt (RRAA) for exams and assessed work that have been impacted by poor health or difficult circumstances. You can appeal their decisions if:
You believe the Panel hasn't taken into account the full impact of your circumstances, particularly if you have additional evidence;
There has been an error in the decision-making process;
The Panel hasn't followed the regulations properly.
Appealing a decision of an Academic Conduct Panel:
You can appeal an Academic Conduct Panel decision if you can demonstrate a procedural or administrative error or if the penalty is too severe in proportion to the misconduct that has occurred.
How to appeal:
Read the University Appeals procedure
The use the AA1
Appeals have to be in within 10 working days of the decision. If it is late, you will have to provide evidence of why it couldn't be submitted earlier.
Stage 2 Appeals
If you are not happy with the outcome of your appeal and you can demonstrate an irregularity in the process or unreasonableness, you can put in a Stage 2 appeal.
The Students' Union Advice Service can check your appeals, help you identify evidence & arguments, and guide you through the process. We can attend meetings with you (subject to availability).
> I’m not happy with my course or a service I’m receiving from the University. What can I do?
You can complain about any aspect of University life, be it the teaching, a service provided by the University or behaviour or staff or students. You will need to be specific and provide evidence of your difficulty.
The University has a three stage Complaints process
Early resolution stage
If possible, you should raise your concern or difficulty with the people most directly involved with it, for example your course leader if it is a course-related matter. It's important to be as specific as possible and to think about what might help to put the problem right.
The University states that nobody should be disadvantaged as a result of making a complaint.
Stage 1 Complaint: Faculty Level
If you aren't satisfied with the response to the early resolution stage complaint or the matter is too serious to be dealt with informally, you can put in a Stage 1 complaint using form SC1
You need to send the form, with as much evidence as you can, to the Pro-Vice Chancellor of your Faculty. You should receive confirmation of the receipt of your complaint within 3 days. A complaint investigator will be appointed who will then keep you informed about the progress of their investigation. You may be called to a meeting with them.
Stage 2 Complaint: University Level
If you believe that the outcome of the Stage 1 is not reasonable or fair, you can put in a further complaint by completing form SC2
This has to be done within 10 days of the Stage 1 decision.
You cannot raise new concerns at this stage.
Your Stage 2 complaint will be investigated by a senior staff member from a different Faculty to the one you study in.
Office of the Independent Adjudicator
Once all University processes are completed, if you still wish to pursue your complaint your can go to the OIA - an independent body which oversees Universities. The OIA looks at the process of the complaint rather than at the substance and is interested in whether the University has acted fairly, reasonably and within its own procedures.
The Students' Union Advice Service can discuss your concerns with you, help you clarify your arguments and pull together complaints, guide you through the process, check your statements and attend meetings with you.
> What can I do if I’m too unwell or if my circumstances mean I can’t hand in my work or do my exam?
The two key things to do are:
Stay in touch with your Student Support Officer
Get as much evidence as you can
Detailed information and the forms you need are found on ShuSpace. Right at the bottom of the page there is a University Rules & Regulations section; you need the 'Illness and Difficult Circumstances' page.
Short term problems - extension request
If you have a sudden illness that you are likely to recover from quickly, but that means you can't hand in a piece of work, you can apply for an extension. You might need to use a self-certification form. You have to put your request in at least 24 hours before the deadline.
There is an extension request form (EER1) and a Self-certification form on ShuSpace within the Rules and Regulations section.
If you miss an exam because of a sudden illness, you will need to use the RRAA process. You may need to use a self-certification form to evidence your illness.
Medium term problems - RRAA
Request a Repeat Attempt at an Assessment
If you have a slightly longer term difficulty and a 5 or 10 day extension is not going to be enough for you, you need to put in a RRAA.
If the RRAA is agreed, you will get the chance to do the work again, uncapped - a deferral.
You need to complete the form online - put in as much detailed information as you can: how has your situation affected your ability to study. Provide as much independent evidence as you can - if you can't provide evidence explain why not, or explain that you will gather evidence and provide it as soon as possible.
The RRAA process is there to provide for the unexpected and uncontrollable situations - the process is not there for recurring difficulties or routine life events: it is meant to cover exceptional circumstances.
Deadline: you need to put in your RRAA within 5 days of the deadline or exam. You can put in a RRAA late, but you will need to explain why it was late and provide evidence for the delay.
Getting a RRAA can have a big impact on your education - the Students' Union Advice Service can provide detailed advice and guidance on your options and help with your application.
Long term problems - Learning Contracts & taking a break in study
If you have a long-term health problem or disability that is impacting on your study, you might want to get a Learning Contract to make sure you get appropriate support for your studies.
If you need time out from University because of a health problem, maternity or personal situation, a Break in Study can be agreed.
The Students' Union Advice Service can explore your options with you so you can make an informed decision
> I need some time out of University. How do I take a break in study?
If you need to take more than four weeks out of University, you will need to speak with your Faculty about a Break in Study.
You might need to take a break in study because of a health problem, because of caring responsibilities or other difficult life circumstances. The first step is always to discuss the matter with your Student Support Officer, to make sure that a break in study is the right option for you, and to see if other support can be put in place to enable you to continue with your studies.
The University's 'Break in Study' policy is part of its general policy on Extenuating Studies
A Break in Study has to be agreed in advance with the University; it can't be used if you've missed a lot of University already and want to apply retrospectively.
When you're applying for a Break in Study, you need to be aware of the maximum duration of your course - will you be able to complete it within the deadline?
(Normally you must complete a full-time undergraduate honours degree within 6 years: see Annexe 1 of the Standard Assessment Regulations
You also need to be aware of the possible impact on your Student Funding - for an undergraduate degree, if you are entitled you should receive funding for the duration of your course + 1 year. If you need to take a break, you will need to contact your funding body, think about possible overpayments and whether you have enough funding available to you to finish the course.
If you are an International Student on a Tier 4 visa, a break in study will probably not be possible - seek advice from the International Experience Team.
The Students' Union Advice Service can help you explore your options and the implications of your choices for your studies and your finances.
> There’s been a problem on my placement and I’m being referred to Fitness to Practise. What should I do?
Contact the Students' Union Advice Service straight away - we can guide you through the process and make sure that your voice is heard and provide representation. Fitness to Practise can be a very stressful process and has serious implications - it is worth getting as much help as you can as early as you can.
The Fitness to Practise regulations are found on ShuSpace in the Rules and Regulations section - they provide a clear and detailed outline of the process.
The first stage is an investigation. You will receive a letter that invites you to a meeting and includes the reasons for the referral.
At this stage, the Students' Union Advice Service can help you prepare your response, provide support and make sure that you are clear about the process and its implications.
Subject to availability, we can attend the Investigation Meeting with you.
The Investigation Meeting can decide that there is no case to answer, it can refer you to other regulatory processes (e.g. disciplinary), it can put an action plan in place for you to meet as you continue as a student or it can refer you to a Panel.
A Panel will formally consider whether you can remain on the course and whether you are 'Fit to Practise' within your chosen profession.
You are strongly advised to attend the Panel meeting and to get representation.
You will receive a submission from the University of the conclusions of their investigation and the evidence they have used. You are invited to respond to this, but your submission must be with the University 5 days in advance of the Panel meeting.
The Students' Union Advice Service can help you prepare for the Panel and can provide representation (subject to availability).
Appealing a Fitness to Practise decision
You can appeal the decision of the Panel if there was an error or irregularity in the process; if the decision was disproportionate; if new evidence has come to light that was not available at the time.
The appeal has to be put in within 10 working days of the decision.
The Students' Union Advice Service can discuss your grounds for appeal with you and assist you through the process.
In some instances, students can be suspended from placement or from the University. If this has happened, please contact the Students' Union Advice Service as soon as possible.
> I’ve failed some work. What should I do next / what are my options?
This is covered by the University's Standard Assessment Regulations
The general principle is that you are entitled to receive the teaching for a module once and that you can have two attempts at it. If you fail the first attempt, you will be offered a re-take, but your mark will be capped at 40%.
If that second valid attempt is failed, you will be offered a re-take opportunity, which will give you the teaching again and two further attempts at the work, but this will all be capped at 40%. You may have to pay extra to re-take the module.
Some courses are covered by their own regulations regarding re-takes, particularly professional courses such as nursing.
You are only allowed to progress to the next level of the course if you have passed enough modules: see Regulation 8. So if you have failed several modules, you may need to re-take the year. This may have serious financial and funding implications. You also need to bear in mind the regulations around 'duration of study' - a full-time undergraduate course has to be completed within 6 years (see Annex 1).
Things to consider
Were you experiencing health problems or other difficult circumstances at the time of the assessment? You could consider putting in a late RRAA.
Has there been an error in the marking process? You might consider putting in an appeal, remembering that you cannot appeal academic judgement.
You need to discuss your progression with your Student Support Officer or course leader.
The Students' Union Advice Service can discuss your options with you and the implications of your next steps on future study and finances. The Students' Union Advice Service can help with RRAAs and appeals where appropriate.
> I’m thinking of leaving my course. What are the implications?
You might have received funding already that you will need to pay back if you leave the course - it's important to inform Student Finance as soon as you have withdrawn to keep this to a minimum.
You are normally only entitled to receive funding for the duration of your course plus one year. If you leave your course having completed two years, for example, you might struggle to find funding if you wish to study again in the future. However, if you have experienced personal difficulties whilst studying, some of the funding can be disregarded - see our section on Compelling Personal Reasons.
The Students' Union Advice Service can help you explore the impact of leaving University on your finances and future funding.
If you have signed a housing contract for student accommodation, even if you leave University you will still be liable for the rent on the accommodation for the duration of the contract. See our section on Housing Contracts.
Why are you thinking of leaving? Would another option help you complete your course?
It could be that you need more support or that a Break in Study would help you. Or perhaps you could transfer to another course that would suit you better?
The best people to discuss this with are your Student Support Officer and your course leader. They will be able to discuss your options.
If you need a Break in Study rather than leaving totally, there are financial implications - please see our section on Taking a Break in Study.