Academic Misconduct

Academic misconduct is taken very seriously by Universities because it has the potential to seriously erode an institution’s reputation, and thereby affect its ability to recruit new students. It should come as no surprise therefore, that detecting academic misconduct is of major importance to the University of Westminster. You can read the Regulations around academic misconduct here.

If you are alleged to have committed academic misconduct, make sure to contact the Research, Representation and Welfare Team (RRW) as soon as possible so we can offer you advice, and support you at committee investigation meetings.

Definition of Academic Misconduct

Academic misconduct is broadly defined by the University of Westminster as any form of cheating or fraudulent activity in relation to assessments.

Academic misconduct can take many forms. Examples include (but are not restricted to):

  • Bringing unauthorised material into your exam
  • Presenting someone else’s work or ideas as your own (plagiarism)
  • Copying, or attempting to copy, the work of another student, lending of work or working with someone on an individually assessed piece of work (collusion)   


We will focus on just two; plagiarism and bringing unauthorised material into an examination.   

Plagiarism

The Academic Regulations define plagiarism as the “submission for assessment of material (written, visual or oral) originally produced by another person or persons, without correct acknowledgement, in such a way that the work could be assumed to be the students own”.

Very often, students who are accused of plagiarism did not intend to plagiarise, but poor time-management skills may mean that students rush their work and so fail to check that they have referenced their work appropriately.  This will be picked up by Turnitin, a specially designed IT software package which helps academics to detect plagiarism. Cutting corners when referencing can lead to serious problems with your progression in a module or course. Penalties for plagiarism include:    

  • a formal warning,
  • having your mark reduced to zero in the assessment in question or the module  
  • a more serious penalty proposed with the endorsement of the vice chancellor. 

Unauthorised Material in Examinations

The use of unauthorised material in an examination is classed as academic misconduct. Except where it is expressly stated on the exam paper, you will not be allowed to bring any notes or other supporting materials into the examination (‘closed examination’).

If an exam is ‘restricted’, students are allowed to use certain limited specified materials (named texts/instruments) in the examination. These limited materials will be detailed in the instructions and/or rules on the examination paper. 

Full details of the examination regulations for students are available here.

However, if the matter is not a first breach of the assessment regulations or deemed a serious breach or you do not accept the allegation then an investigation into the matter will take place. 

In which case, you will be sent notification in writing within 5 working days that the case is under investigation. You will need to respond with a written statement within 10 working days of receiving the notification of the investigation. If you do not reply or you accept the allegation the Chair in consultation with the Student Regulation Office shall determine the most appropriate outcome. You will have the opportunity to present your case in person at an interview. You may be accompanied by a another student, the Student Union’s Welfare Adviser, or a member of University Staff

Appealing an Academic Misconduct penalty

Students have the right to appeal a decision taken by the University in relation to academic misconduct on one of three grounds. 

The three valid grounds of appeal, as stated in the regulations, are:

1.       There is new evidence which was not previously available and which has a direct bearing on the case against the student;

2.       There has been material procedural irregularity in the conduct of the examination and/or the assessment offences procedures; or

3.       There has been procedural unfairness in the conduct of the examination and assessment offences procedures.

There is a deadline of 10 working days after a decision has been made for you to lodge your appeal. As such, you should contact the RRW team as soon as possible to obtain advice and support in appealing an academic misconduct decision.