What to expect if you are investigated under the student conduct process, including sources of support.
The guidance below is intended for students who have been informed that they are subject to an investigation under the University Code of Student Conduct.
The Code of Student Conduct is the process through which the University can investigate reports of student misconduct, and if appropriate take disciplinary action against students. In the Code, students who are being investigated are referred to as the ‘Respondent’.
The guidance below is only a high level summary of the procedure that the University will follow. You should always refer to The Code of Student Conduct which sets out the conduct process in detail. Detailed information is provided to students throughout the conduct process.
About the conduct process
The Code of Student Conduct provides information about behaviour by students that the University may regard as ‘misconduct’. This includes sexual misconduct, harassment, bullying, discrimination, or offensive, violent or threatening behaviour, including behaviour on social media. Further information can be found in section 13 of the Code. The Code also sets out the process the University will follow in investigating and taking disciplinary action in relation to allegations of student misconduct.
If student misconduct is investigated under the Code, a Conduct Investigator is appointed. This person will investigate the alleged misconduct, and come to a conclusion about whether the alleged misconduct took place, and whether it constitutes a breach of the Code.
If the Conduct Investigator finds that a student has breached the Code of Student Conduct, depending on the nature or gravity of a case, they will refer the case to a Student Discipline Officer or to the Student Discipline Committee.
If the case is referred to a Student Discipline Officer, the Student Discipline Officer will make a decision about whether to impose a penalty and, if so, what that penalty should be.
The Student Discipline Committee comes to its own decision about whether or not the allegation of misconduct should be upheld. If it is upheld, the Student Discipline Committee will make a decision about whether to impose a penalty (and, if so, what that penalty should be). The Student Discipline Committee can impose a wider range of penalties than a Student Discipline Officer, including permanent exclusion from the University.
Before any decision is made about penalties, the student who is being investigated will have an opportunity to tell the Student Discipline Officer or Student Discipline Committee about any relevant mitigating or extenuating circumstances.
If either the Conduct Investigator or the Student Discipline Committee find that the allegation should not be upheld, they will dismiss the case and no further action will be taken.
How long does the conduct process take?
Student conduct investigations can take some time. You should expect an investigation to take up to 8 weeks from the point at which the investigation formally starts. If a case is referred to a Student Discipline Committee, it typically may then take another 4 weeks before the case is completed, so 12 weeks in total.
Cases can take longer than 12 weeks to complete, particularly if there is a lot of evidence to consider or a large number of witnesses to contact.
Please see the sections below for more detailed information on the conduct process.
- The University is committed to dealing with student disciplinary issues in a proportionate and transparent way, and with sensitivity and objectivity.
- All parties will be treated fairly, consistently and with respect.
- You will be given information about the conduct process at the beginning.
- You will be signposted to appropriate support within the University throughout the process.
- If urgent and necessary, and based on a risk assessment, a precautionary suspension may be imposed on you in order to reduce any risks to any parties involved during the process (see section ‘What is a precautionary suspension?’ below for more information). You will always have the right to respond to a decision to impose a precautionary suspension.
- You will be kept informed of the status of your case.
- You will have the right to be accompanied by a supporter from the University community at any interviews or meetings during the process, including any hearing of the Student Discipline Committee. With the agreement of the Committee Convener, you can be accompanied by a specialist provider of health and wellbeing support who is not a member of the University community. The Committee secretary will provide you with information about this in advance of any Committee hearing.
- You will have the right to see the notes of any conduct investigation interview with you, and to comment on whether or not the notes are an accurate record in your view.
- You will be informed of the outcome of the investigation and you will receive a written report of the investigation and findings.
- If any allegations against you are upheld, you will have an opportunity to provide information about any relevant mitigating or extenuating circumstances before any decision is made to impose any penalty(s) on you.
- You will receive written confirmation of any decisions made by a Student Discipline Officer, including information about any penalty(s) imposed on you.
- You will receive a written report of any hearing and decisions made by the Student Discipline Committee, including (if the allegations are upheld) information about any penalty(s) imposed on you.
Information you share during the process will be treated as confidential as far as possible.
Information may be shared with staff involved in the student conduct process, for example Student Discipline Officers, or the Student Discipline Committee.
In order to carry out a fair and full investigation, the Conduct Investigator may need to share information you provide about what has happened with the person who has made the complaint against you. They may also need to share some information with witnesses, in order to gather evidence from witnesses.
All parties in the investigation will be asked to keep information they receive during an investigation confidential, unless they need to share information for the purposes of seeking advice and support.
Information about conduct investigations and any penalties is held securely in Academic Services’ records. Penalties are not recorded on your student record (Euclid) unless you are excluded or suspended from the University.
If you receive a penalty which has an impact on your academic programme (for example, if you are excluded from the University, suspended from your programme for a period of time, or suspended from accessing particular areas of the campus or facilities that affect your programme), your School will be informed of the penalty in order to facilitate the implementation of the penalty.
If you are found to have breached the Code of Student Conduct, the person who made the complaint against you will normally be informed that their complaint has been upheld and may, in certain circumstances, be given some information about any penalties that are imposed on you. The University may only provide this information to the person who made the complaint if it (i) has taken into account and balanced the interests of you, the person who has made the complaint, and any witnesses; and (ii) has complied with relevant legislation.
If the Conduct team have serious concerns about your safety or wellbeing, they may contact your School Student Advisor, Student Support Team, or Graduate School, or to the Equally Safe Team if your report involves gender based violence, to ask them to check in with you.
Please also see the section below, ‘What if a report has been made about me to the police?’
If you are found to have breached the Code of Student Conduct, you may be subject to a penalty or penalties. The Code includes a list of penalties that can be applied by Student Discipline Officers (section 68) and a list of penalties that can be applied by the Student Discipline Committee (section 101). The possible penalties range from a reprimand (a ‘formal warning’) to immediate permanent exclusion from the University with no eligibility for readmittance.
If you are enrolled in a programme with Fitness to Practice requirements, and the Student Discipline Committee upholds the allegation against you, the Committee will remit the case to the relevant College Fitness to Practice Committee for action or advice before any decision is made about any penalties.
More detailed information about the conduct investigation and what happens after the investigation is provided in the sections below on ‘What happens during a conduct investigation?’, ‘What happens if a case is referred to a Student Discipline Officer?’ and ‘What happens if a case is referred to the Student Discipline Committee?’
Being complained about can be distressing and difficult, and it is important that you seek support if you need it.
The Students’ Association Advice Place can support you throughout the conduct process, including providing support during any interviews or hearings. They have professional caseworkers who are independent of the University and who are experienced in supporting students who are investigated under the University conduct process.
The Student Conduct Team in Academic Services can provide you with information about the conduct process, but they cannot provide individual advice or support in relation to your case.
If you are placed under a precautionary suspension, this means that the University is placing conditions on you, in order to reduce any risks to any party involved in the conduct process. For example, you may be prohibited from initiating any contact with the person who has made a complaint about you, or you may be restricted from going to specific University buildings or areas of the campus, or, in some cases, you may be fully suspended from the University.
If you are placed under a precautionary suspension, you will receive a letter (via email) that sets out the specific terms of your suspension. You will be told who you can contact if you want to provide information or request that the suspension is altered or lifted.
A precautionary suspension may be put in place pending a University conduct investigation: for example, if the University investigation is delayed because of a police investigation into the same matter.
The decision to impose a precautionary suspension is reviewed every 20 working days. If there is a change in circumstances, a precautionary suspension may be imposed, altered or removed at any time: you will always be informed in writing of any suspension or changes to a suspension.
Any other parties affected by the precautionary suspension will be given relevant information about the suspension: for example, if you are prohibited from initiating contact with a named person, they will be told about this aspect of the suspension.
If you are proven to have breached the terms of your precautionary suspension, for example by contacting a person you are prohibited from contacting, or being in a University building that you are restricted from entering, this is likely to constitute a breach of the Code of Student Conduct and may lead to disciplinary action.
Allegations of misconduct that could constitute a crime can be investigated under the Code of Student Conduct. However, a University conduct process is an internal discipline process and is not the same as the criminal justice process. Therefore, no University conduct process can lead to a decision about whether or not a crime has been committed.
In cases where the allegations relate to potentially criminal conduct: if you make an admission during an interview that indicates you have been guilty of a criminal offence then you should be aware that there is potential for that information to be used in a criminal investigation and prosecution in future, if the incident is or has been reported to the police.
Your right against self-incrimination means that you are under no compulsion to answer any questions by the Conduct Investigator which would have the potential to incriminate you in relation to a criminal offence. If you choose not to answer any questions, the Conduct Investigator will not draw any adverse inference from this. If a question does arise during an interview which you do not wish to answer, you should simply state that you do not wish to answer that question.
Please also see the section below, ‘What if a report has been made about me to the police?’
Tell someone who can support you
This could be a family member, supporter, or friend. You can also tell a staff member at the University if you feel comfortable to do so. This could be your Personal Tutor or your Student Adviser, or a member of your local Student Support Team. They can listen to you and provide signposting to other sources of guidance.
You should be aware that anything you say to a supporter may be called forward as evidence during court proceedings. It is also possible for the police to request information from the University, if they are investigating a complaint against you. This could include information that you have provided as part of an investigation under the Code of Student Conduct.
If you are facing a police investigation or have been charged with a crime, you may want to seek advice from a lawyer. What you say to a lawyer representing you will be confidential.
If you need help in identifying and appointing a lawyer, the Students’ Association Advice Place can provide help with this, as well as supporting you more generally.
You must tell the University if you have been charged with a relevant crime or convicted of a relevant crime
As a student of the University, you are required to provide the University with information about any relevant criminal charges or convictions. This applies to a number of offences, including (but not limited to) ones which result in actual bodily harm and offences listed in the Sexual Offences Act 2003 or the Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009, or any conviction involving a similar offence made by a court outside the UK. You can find more information about relevant charges and convictions on the website below:
If you need to tell the University about any criminal charges or convictions, or if you have questions about whether a conviction or charge needs to be declared, contact email@example.com.
Interactions between the University conduct investigation process and the criminal process
If you are being investigated by the police or have been charged and are awaiting trial, and this is about the same matter as a complaint that has been made to the University, the University will not normally carry out an investigation under the Code of Student Conduct at the same time.
The University may take precautionary action during the criminal process, pending a University investigation.
Once the criminal process is complete, a University investigation may take the outcome of the criminal process into account, if you are convicted, cautioned or warned of an offense, and if the circumstances leading to the conviction are relevant to the University investigation.
If a police investigation or court process ends, and you have not been convicted, cautioned or warned, it is still possible that a University investigation may take place. This is because a University investigation is not the same as an investigation or decision under the criminal justice process, and uses a different standard of proof (the “balance of probabilities” rather than “beyond reasonable doubt”).
During the conduct process
You will normally be contacted by email by a Conduct Investigator, at your University email address.
In some cases, the University may put in place a ‘precautionary suspension’ before a Conduct Investigator contacts you. You can find more information in the section ‘What is a precautionary suspension?’ below.
You will be contacted by a Conduct Investigator. This person is normally a member of staff in Academic Services whose has received training in conducting conduct investigations. In some cases another member of staff may carry out an investigation – for example, a member of Admissions staff may investigate an allegation of admissions misconduct, or a College Academic Misconduct Officer may investigate an allegation of academic misconduct.
The Conduct Investigator is responsible for investigating whether the alleged misconduct happened, and they are independent in the process – they are not representing you or the person who has made the complaint.
Conduct Investigators are normally University staff. On occasion, Conduct Investigators who are external to the University may be appointed. The conduct process is the same whether the Conduct Investigator is a member of University staff or external to the University.
The Conduct Investigator will normally arrange to meet you for an interview, to find out more about what has happened from your point of view. Alternatively, you may choose to provide a written statement. A caseworker from the Advice Place can support you in writing your written statement. You have the right to be accompanied at any interview by a supporter from the University community, and this includes Advice Place caseworkers.
The Conduct Investigator will normally also interview the person who has made the complaint, and any relevant witnesses.
In order to carry out a fair and full investigation, the Conduct Investigator may need to share information you provide about what has happened with the person who has made the complaint. They may also need to share some information with witnesses, in order to gather evidence from witnesses.
The Conduct Investigator will ask you for any evidence that you think is relevant, and the names of any witnesses that you think may have relevant information.
Evidence that you might be able to provide includes email, text or social media messages, or medical evidence.
It is not recommended that you try to gather statements or evidence from potential witnesses – the Conduct Investigator will do this.
The Conduct Investigator does not have the same powers as the police to compel anyone to give them access to their email, social media or other digital data, and does not have the power to compel organisations to give access to CCTV in private or commercial premises.
You should provide any evidence (including information you provide at interviews), or names of witnesses that you think are relevant during the investigation process. If your case is upheld and referred to a Student Discipline Committee, you will only be able to bring forward new evidence or witnesses if the Committee is satisfied that you could not reasonably have been expected to provide the evidence or identify the witness during the conduct investigation.
Coming to a decision
The Conduct Investigator has to come to an impartial decision, based on the evidence available, about whether the alleged misconduct occurred. They will make this decision based on the ‘balance of probabilities’ – this means they must make a judgement, based on the available evidence, whether the alleged misconduct is more or less likely to have occurred. In addition, they must decide whether the misconduct constitutes a breach of the Code of Student Conduct.
If the Conduct Investigator finds that you have breached the Code of Student Conduct, they will refer the case to a Student Discipline Officer, or the Student Discipline Committee. You will be informed of this decision in writing, and given information about the next steps.
If the Conduct Investigator finds that you have not breached the Code of Student Conduct, they will inform you of this in writing, and that will be the end of the conduct process.
Conduct Investigation report
The Conduct Investigator will write a report of their investigation and their conclusions. This report will be sent to you when the investigation is concluded.
The Student Discipline Officer will receive a copy of the Conduct Investigation report. The Student Discipline Officer’s role is to decide what, if any, penalty should be imposed on a student who has breached the Code of Student Conduct.
Student Discipline Officers are experienced staff in the University, and a list of current Student Discipline Officers is below. The Student Discipline Officer will be someone who has not previously been involved in your case.
Student Discipline Officers can impose a range of penalties, but they cannot impose all penalties that are available to the Student Discipline Committee. If a Student Discipline Officer decides that, due to the nature or gravity of the case, it is more appropriate that this is dealt with by the Student Discipline Committee, the Student Discipline Officer can refer the case to the Student Discipline Committee.
You will be informed in writing if your case is referred to a Student Discipline Officer. The Student Discipline Officer will write to you to give you an opportunity to make any statement in explanation or extenuation of the misconduct or in mitigation of any possible penalty. Once you have replied, or once the deadline for you to reply has passed, the Student Discipline Officer will contact you in writing to inform you of any penalties that they are imposing. This will be the final stage of the conduct process.
If the Conduct Investigator, or a Student Discipline Officer, decides that due to the nature or gravity of the case it appropriate for the case to be handled by the Student Discipline Committee, then the case will be referred to the Student Discipline Committee.
The Student Discipline Committee is made up of staff and students of the University. A full list of the Committee members can be found here: Student Discipline Committee
At a Committee hearing for a specific case, the Committee will be made up of 5 to 6 members of the Committee only.
All Committee members are required to treat information related to student conduct cases as strictly confidential. Prior to any Committee hearing, Committee members are asked to confirm that there is no conflict of interest in them hearing the case. All Committee member will be involved in a case if there is potential conflict of interest.
If your case is referred to the Student Discipline Committee, you will be contacted by the Committee secretary and given detailed information about what will happen next, and how you can take part in a Committee hearing.
The Student Discipline Committee will receive the conduct investigation report. You will have an opportunity to make a statement to the Committee, and they will have an opportunity to ask you questions. You will also have an opportunity to ask questions of the Conduct Investigator. However, you can only introduce new evidence or witnesses at this stage in the process if the Committee are satisfied that you could not reasonably have been expected to provide this evidence or identify these witnesses during the conduct investigation.
You will also have an opportunity to ask questions of any witnesses who are present at the hearing, via the Committee Convener. However, in some cases the Committee Convener may withdraw your right to directly question certain witnesses. This is most likely to occur in cases involving allegations of sexual misconduct. However, if this happens, arrangements will be made so that you have an opportunity to challenge any evidence presented by witnesses at the hearing.
The Student Discipline Committee will review all of the available evidence and will come to their own decision about whether the allegation of misconduct should be upheld, and whether there has been a breach of the Code of Student Conduct. This means that the Student Discipline Committee have the power to dismiss the case at this stage, if they find that the available evidence does not support upholding the allegation. Like the Conduct Investigator, they will make this decision on the ‘balance of probabilities’: whether not something is more or less likely to have occurred, based on the available evidence.
If the Student Discipline Committee decides that you have not breached the Code of Student Conduct, they will dismiss the case and the process will end at that point. You will receive a written report of the hearing and this decision.
If the Student Discipline Committee upholds the allegation, they will tell you that they have found that you have breached the Code of Student Conduct. You will then be given an opportunity to make any statement in explanation or extenuation of the misconduct or in mitigation of any possible penalty. After this, the Student Discipline Committee will make a decision on what penalty(s), if any, to impose. You will receive a written report of the hearing and this decision.
After the conduct process
You have the right to appeal decisions made by the Student Discipline Officer or the Student Discipline Committee. Any appeal must be submitted within 10 working days of you receiving written notification of the Student Discipline Officer or Student Discipline Committee decision.
If you make an appeal, any penalties imposed by a Student Discipline Officer or the Student Discipline Committee will remain in force until the outcome of the appeal.
Information on submitting an appeal can be found via the link below:
All of the support services below are available to you during conduct process.
The Student Counselling Service can provide support through short-term counselling and referral to other services.
The Advice Place can offer ongoing advice and guidance to all students involved in the conduct process.
If you are living in University accommodation, the Residence Life team can offer ongoing practical and wellbeing support.
The University Listening Service is run by the University Chaplaincy and is available to all students 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
For more information on wellbeing services, including external services, visit the Student Health and Wellbeing website.