Academic misconduct is described as academic integrity violation for the unfair advantage of oneself or unfair academic advantage or disadvantage to others in academic community, academic misconduct can be a plagiarism, cheating, and collusion but not limited. The other academic misconduct activities such as not obeying academic staff directions regarding assessments and group work submissions, falsifying reports, having/spreading examination materials without unit teacher permission, arranging someone to do assessment work all these included as academic misconduct.
If an allegation arises towards a student and if it’s proven in an investigation then student has to face penalties under student academic misconduct policy. In this essay we going to discuss in brief about plagiarism, cheating, collusion and academic misconduct procedural process depending on minor or substantial misconduct when allegations arise and appeal for the student.
As per UWS policy Plagiarism is defined as an “act of presenting material as one’s own without appropriate acknowledgement that constitutes plagiarism, not the intension of the student when doing so”, for example when student submits work in which words or ideas are presented as their own as intentional or unintentional without proper acknowledgment of the original author such as website, other students work, lecture, journal article or book.
Cheating is described as any attempt to give or obtain assistance in a formal academic exercise such as examination, without due acknowledgment such as speaking to other students during examination, carrying any information materials such as textbooks, using electronics devices such as mobile, Bluetooth any other items which are prohibited by examination supervisor. Collusion is where two or more people engage in plagiarism, cheating or encourage others to do so.
According to UWS Academic misconduct policy there are Minor misconduct and substantial misconduct. A Minor misconduct is determine by the university as a minimal threat to integrity of the student assessment in writing such as lack of referencing or academic requirements. A substantial misconduct is determine by the university as a major threat to integrity such as, when a student repeats minor misconduct activities intentionally, any allegations in the examination and any allegations related to collusion.
In the process of investigating the allegations unit teacher, unit coordinator, Dean, school academic committee and student academic committee will be involved. in the first stage of Investigation process and hearing of academic misconduct, If unit teacher or examination supervisor believe that there is any academic misconduct happened, and they have evidence or reasons to support, teacher of the unit will report to unit coordinator with relevant documentation by signed copy or email, then with in five working days unit coordinator will send copy of allegation to the Dean.
The dean, will advise unit coordinator to do investigation, and then unit coordinator and unit teacher decides to do further investigation, unit teacher will notify the student and invite for meeting in writing by post and email. Student can attend meeting with fellow student or university academic staff member or a student welfare officer. Meeting will be organised between 8 – 15 working days after on invitation letter despatch date. Student must respond to the invitation with in seven working days date of despatch whether he / she will attend the meeting or not.
The decision will be made on the allegation even in the student absence. If unit coordinator decides that the allegation is not substantial he / she will dismiss it. Other penalties like refer to academic counselling, student require to re-submit assessment task after re-submission unit coordinator makes a decision on the marks and grades student may get zero marks. If the unit coordinator determine its substantial he/ she will be referred to relevant dean for decision.
After going through all the process as discussed earlier in which case the unit coordinator will send the invitation letter to student for meeting with dean. After meeting if dean decides it’s not substantial dean will dismiss the allegation. When dean decides the allegations substantial then dean can penalise student such as recommend to counselling, ask for re-submission of work, if required student has to sit for exam again, dean will decide marks and grades. If dean judges that the allegation very substantial or too serious then dean refers that allegation to SAC (student academic committee).
After going all the process as discussed above, student will have meeting with SAC members. After meeting if SAC decides if allegation are true it will take any action of dean penalties or combination of them, or suspend the student from university minimum period of 6months not more than 12 months, or dismiss the student for minimum of 12 months not more than 24 months in this case student has to apply for readmission or SAC can suspend the student permanently from the university.
A student can appeal against the unit coordinators decision when student considers that the decision was made against the procedural fairness or when student not agreeing with allegations or when student considers that there is a substantial new evidence which was not available previously to unit coordinator or when student considers the penalty imposed by unit coordinator was too severe. Student must appeal within 15 days with evidence in writing to dean from the date of the letter advising of unit coordinators decision.
It is the responsibility of every student to respect and obey the policy of UWS for academic misconduct to maintain academic integrity among academic community, when allegations were proven the student has to face severe penalties imposed by university academic committee besides the appeal options for student, The best option for students is to work hard on their own and get help when needed from academic teachers before submitting any academic work.