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Student Misconduct Rule - Inappropriate Behaviour Guidelines

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1. Preliminary

(1) These Guidelines are the Inappropriate Behaviour Guidelines and are made by the Academic Senate and by the Vice-Chancellor and President under clause 69 of the Western Sydney University Student Misconduct Rule.

(2) These Guidelines replace and supersede the Inappropriate Behaviour Guidelines previously in force.

2. Purpose and Application

(3) These Guidelines establish the framework and procedures for dealing with allegations of academic or general misconduct that can more appropriately be dealt with through educative and/or remedial responses, rather than as misconduct under the Student Misconduct Rule.

(4) These Guidelines (and the procedures set out in clause 8 of these Guidelines) apply only in relation to matters referred in accordance with clause 5(6)(b) of the Student Misconduct Rule.

3. Definitions

(5) Words and expressions in these Guidelines have the same meaning as their definition in the Student Misconduct Rule.

4. General Statement about these Guidelines

(6) The University recognises that some breaches of academic or general conduct, which may otherwise amount to student misconduct dealt with through a formal process under the Student Misconduct Rule, are more appropriately dealt with by giving the student an opportunity to reflect on and learn from their mistakes.

(7) The University believes that such an approach often helps to minimise the possibility of future breaches.

5. Threshold requirement for allegations of academic misconduct to be dealt with under these Guidelines

(8) An Authorised Officer can refer an allegation to an Authorised Nominee to be dealt with under these Guidelines if satisfied that all of the following criteria apply:

  1. the allegation:
    1. poses only a minimal threat to the integrity of assessment processes in the unit of study and appears to be due to the student's lack of understanding of appropriate referencing or other applicable academic conventions; and
    2. does not consist of any one or more of the following:
      1. submission of an assignment or other assessment task as the student’s own work that has been prepared by another person, for example, purchase of an assignment online; or
      2. substituting another person to sit an examination for that student; or
      3. cheating in an examination; or
      4. submitting an assignment or assessment task that was prepared by another student and not by them, or willingly allowing their assignment or assessment task to be submitted by another student as their own (this does not include group assignments); or
      5. submitting forged or fraudulent, medical or other documentation; and
    3. does not involve research misconduct for students enrolled in higher degree research courses of study; and
  2. the student has not previously been the subject of an adverse finding of misconduct for the same or substantially similar behaviour; and
  3. the student admits the allegation or the facts giving rise to that allegation or the Authorised Officer is of the view that the facts are unlikely to be disputed by the student; and
  4. the behaviour is not serious enough to warrant the imposition of a sanction under the Student Misconduct Rule; and/or
  5.  the Authorised Nominee, after considering all the circumstances [including the matters in clause 5(8) of these Guidelines], considers that the behaviour warrants an educative or remedial response, rather than it being dealt with under the Student Misconduct Rule.

(9) Following a referral under these Guidelines, and in deciding whether inappropriate academic behaviour warrants an educative or remedial response, rather than being referred back to the Authorised Officer to be dealt with as misconduct, the Authorised Nominee is to take into account:

  1. the student’s level of exposure to or experience in higher education, including accepted standards of academic honesty and integrity;
  2. the extent to which the student’s behaviour impacts on the integrity of the assessment process;
  3. whether the student has attempted to gain any unfair academic advantage;
  4. any previous instance of a student having been dealt with under these Guidelines;
  5. whether, taking into account the circumstances, the student is likely to benefit from educative or remedial action; and
  6. the level of threat to the University's academic reputation and its systems and processes for assessment of academic work.

6. Threshold requirement for allegations of general misconduct to be dealt with under these Guidelines

(10) An Authorised Officer can refer an allegation of general misconduct to an Authorised Nominee to be dealt with under these Guidelines if satisfied that all of the following criteria apply:

  1. the allegation does not involve any one or more of the following types of conduct:
    1. behaviour involving a serious or continuing risk to the life, health or safety of the student or other people;
    2. a criminal offence;
    3. motting, hazing or similar behaviour; and
  2. the student has not previously been the subject of an adverse finding of misconduct for the same or substantially similar behaviour; and
  3. the student admits the allegation or the facts giving rise to that allegation or the Authorised Officer is of the view that the facts are unlikely to be disputed by the student; and
  4. the behaviour is not serious enough to warrant the imposition of a sanction under the Student Misconduct Rule; and/or
  5. the Authorised Nominee, after considering all the circumstances [including the matters in clause 5(8)], believes that the behaviour warrants an educative or remedial response, rather than it being dealt with under the Student Misconduct Rule.

(11) Following a referral under these Guidelines, and in deciding whether inappropriate general (non-academic) behaviour warrants an educative or remedial response, rather than being referred back to the Authorised Officer to be dealt with as misconduct, the Authorised Nominee is to take into account:

  1. whether the behaviour was not premeditated and/or appears to have been an isolated incident;
  2. whether the student shows any understanding of the impact of their behaviour;
  3. whether, taking into account the circumstances, the student is likely to benefit from educative or remedial action; and
  4. the level of threat to the University's reputation and business.

7. Authorised Nominees under these Guidelines

(12) An Authorised Nominee for the purposes of these Guidelines is:

  1. an Authorised Officer specified in Schedule 1 of the Student Misconduct Rule; or
  2. a person authorised in writing by that Authorised Officer within that Authorised Officer’s School or business unit. This can include, for instance, a Unit Coordinator or Director, Academic Program (DAP).

8. Procedures

(13) These procedures apply in relation to matters referred in accordance with clause 5(6)(b) of the Student Misconduct Rule.

(14) Following referral of an allegation of misconduct and receipt of all available evidence from the Authorised Officer, the Authorised Nominee must (unless this has already occurred as part of any preliminary action taken under clause 5 of the Student Misconduct Rule) arrange an interview with the student by sending the student a written notice that: 

  1. gives sufficient particulars of the allegation to enable the student to respond to it (that is, what is alleged to have happened, when and where, and which University policy or code is alleged to have been breached);
  2. invites the student to attend an interview to discuss the allegation at a specified time, date and place;
  3. tells the student that the purpose of the interview is to:
    1. discuss the allegation with the student; and
    2. provide the student with an opportunity to give their version of events;
  4. encloses copies, or an electronic link, of the Student Misconduct Rule and these Guidelines;
  5. encloses copies, or an electronic link, of any evidence available;
  6. tells the student that an opportunity will be provided to explain the alleged behaviour;
  7. tells the student that a support person may be brought along to the interview; and
  8. tells the student that in case the invitation to this interview is declined, then the matter will be referred back to be dealt with under the Student Misconduct Rule.

(15) At any interview with the student:

  1. the student is entitled to bring along a support person, but subject to clause 8(17) of these Guidelines;
  2. the Authorised Nominee is to:
    1. discuss the allegation and any available evidence with the student;
    2. confirm whether the student admits the allegation or the circumstances giving rise to it.

(16) If the student:

  1. admits or does not dispute the allegation, or the facts giving rise to that allegation, then the Authorised Nominee is to consult with the student about suitable educative or remedial outcomes and their possible impact on the student;
  2. does not admit the allegation, or does not agree to the proposed educative or remedial outcomes, or otherwise does not attend or cooperate during the interview, then the Authorised Nominee is to refer the allegation back to the relevant Authorised Officer to be dealt with as misconduct under the Student Misconduct Rule.

(17) If a student chooses to bring along a support person to an interview, then:

  1. the support person can, if the student wishes, speak on the student’s behalf;
  2. the support person is expected to behave in a civil and reasonable fashion, failing which the Authorised Nominee can direct that support person to leave the interview. If this occurs, the Authorised Nominee can continue with the interview and proceed to deal with the matter in the absence of that support person.

(18) If the student agrees to accept any educative or remedial outcomes proposed by the Authorised Nominee, then the Authorised Nominee is to send a written notice to the student that:

  1. contains a description of the alleged behaviour or factual circumstances admitted by the student;
  2. confirms that the student has admitted to or does not dispute that behaviour or those factual circumstances; and
  3. sets out the agreed outcomes, including any applicable deadlines for compliance; and
  4. includes a warning that any future incidences of the same or similar conduct may result in those matters being dealt with as misconduct under the Student Misconduct Rule.

(19) The Authorised Nominee must:

  1. send a copy of the notice given under clause 8(14) to the relevant Authorised Officer; and
  2. place a copy of the notice on the student’s misconduct file with a note confirming that the allegation has been dealt with under these Guidelines and not the Student Misconduct Rule.

(20) The student must comply with any agreed outcome(s), including any applicable deadlines. Failure to do so without a reasonable excuse will result in one or more of the following, as applicable:

  1. to the matter being dealt with as misconduct under the Student Misconduct Rule;
  2. if the student is permitted to resubmit work or undertake an alternative assessment task, a mark of zero for that assessment task or a failure in the relevant unit.

(21) The Authorised Nominee is responsible for ensuring that the student complies with any agreed outcomes within any deadline(s) specified. If the student fails to comply, then:

  1. the Authorised Nominee is to discuss the non-compliance with the relevant Authorised Officer; and
  2. the Authorised Officer is to decide whether to treat that non-compliance as student misconduct for the purposes of the Student Misconduct Rule.

9. Outcomes generally

(22) Any outcome agreed with the student must be proportionate to the type and circumstances of the inappropriate behaviour, and take into account:

  1. the impact of the behaviour;
  2. whether the student has previously been dealt with under these Guidelines for the same or similar behaviour;
  3. the personal circumstances of the student;
  4. the objective of deterring future instances of inappropriate behaviour;
  5. the objective of protecting the University community, and the good governance and reputation of the University;
  6. all relevant University policies, conventions or guidelines relating to standards of behaviour (including academic honesty and integrity) expected of students.

(23) Except as specified in clause 10, any outcome under these Guidelines should not have the effect of resulting in an outcome that is greater than a sanction that could be imposed under the Student Misconduct Rule. Conversely, any outcome issued under these Guidelines should not have the effect of placing the student in a more advantageous position than other students who have not engaged in academic misconduct.

10. Outcomes for inappropriate academic behaviour

(24) Any one or more of the following may be used as an outcome in relation to inappropriate academic behaviour, and must have the objective of assisting the student to improve their academic writing, literacy or referencing skills:

  1. a reprimand;
  2. a recommendation that the student undertake counselling;
  3. a direction to undertake training, or a program of study;
  4. permission for the student to resubmit the assessment task that is the subject of the inappropriate academic behaviour, but the final mark awarded for that assessment task cannot exceed 50% of the total mark available for that assessment task;
  5. permission for the student to submit an alternative assessment task, which may or may not be marked for the purpose of the unit of study in substitution for the original assessment task submitted by the student; and/or
  6. any other educative or remedial response that the Authorised Nominee considers reasonably appropriate in the circumstances.

(25) If a student is permitted to resubmit or to submit an alternative assessment task as part of any outcome under these Guidelines, then the student does not have any right of review or supplementary assessment (as the case may be) under the University's Assessment Policy or under any other University policy relating to academic assessment.

11. Outcomes for inappropriate general (non-academic) behaviour

(26) Any one or more of the following may be used as an outcome for inappropriate general (non-academic nature) behaviour, and must have the objective of encouraging the student to reflect on and learn from their inappropriate behaviour:

  1. a reprimand;
  2. undertake counselling or another remedial measure; or
  3. apologise either verbally or in writing to any person affected by the student’s conduct; or
  4. another response that the Authorised Nominee considers reasonably appropriate in the circumstances.

12. No right of review

(27) A student does not have any avenue of internal review or appeal against an outcome agreed under these Guidelines.

13. Related rules and policies

(28) These Guidelines are intended to be read in conjunction with all related rules, policies and guidelines of the University including but not limited to the following:

  1. Student Code of Conduct;
  2. Student Misconduct Rule;
  3. Medical Assistance Policy; and
  4. Student Honour Code.

(29) If there is any inconsistency between these Guidelines and any rule or policy of the University, including the Student Misconduct Rule, then that rule or policy prevails to the extent of any inconsistency.