Unfair practice procedure

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This event was held as part of the ongoing support made available to academic schools to support consistent application of the Unfair Practice Procedure, and to share practice in the use of plagiarism detection tools and strategies that help avoid plagiarism. The event was divided into the three elements below:

A summary of the use made of the Unfair Practice Procedure, and a chance to discuss issues arising from this;

Discussion of the use made of Turnitin and the online tools that can help raise awareness of plagiarism;

A short presentation by three International Students on the different approaches to study they have encountered before entering UK higher education.

1) The Unfair Practice Procedure

A summary of the cases considered by the University Committee of Enquiry was presented, along with the available data on the cases considered within schools, and comments made by External Examiners on this issue. Small group discussion followed between participants, which led a number of issues being identified that relate to the Committee of Enquiry. These included the view of some schools that the Committee has been overly lenient in some cases, and that the procedures used by the Committee remain very stressful to staff involved. It was noted that this has resulted in some schools being unwilling to utilise the procedure.

2) Prevention and Detection Tools

A brief demonstration was given of a range of online tools that are available to support Cardiff students in this area, including the ‘Student Guide to Academic Integrity', ‘Plagiarism Learning Objects within the Information Literacy Resource Bank', and the ‘Plagiarism and How to Avoid it' tutorial now available through Blackboard. This was followed by discussion of the increased use that is being made of the Turnitin plagiarism detection software, and of the issues that surround its use. Points arising from this discussion included the need to be aware of possible increases in assessment-related administration, and the potential value of the tool to support formative assessments.

3) The View of International Students

Following a summary of the study practices that international students have admitted to, the final part of the workshop saw three international students offer their perspective on the different cultural and study traditions that exist in the UK compared with their home countries, and the differing expectations of their current schools and support mechanisms available. The views provided echo the recent research findings, which have highlighted the range of different challenges that international students face in this area. These include traditions that focus on a cultural worldview where respect for betters and elders is paramount, an emphasis on rote learning, and a focus on multiple choice questions and examinations that rely on memory. The event concluded by noting that learning to operate within western academic conventions, for international students, is akin to learning a new language.

the resources linked to from this page have been collated to assist academic staff when they suspect an unfair practice has taken place in a coursework assessment. The following resources can be accessed from this page:

Unfair Practice - Staff Guidance[83.2 Kb]

This note covers the following areas: definition of unfair practice, how to prevent unfair practice in coursework, and the steps that must be followed when an unfair practice is suspected.

The Unfair Practice Regulations as detailed in the Academic Regulations Handbook. These contain details of the procedure that must be used.

TheTurnitin Plagiarism Detection Service is an online tool that can help identify instances of unfair practice. Information and advice about accessing the service is availablehere.

A new single case record has been adopted for instances of unfair practice. Flowcharts have also been developed to help guide staff through the procedure. These can be accessed from the resources section.

A suite of standard letters has been provided to assist staff involved in the application of the new Unfair Practice Procedure. The following letter templates are available to download from the Resources section of this page:

  • Letter 1:Unfair Practice Co-ordinator inviting student to attend a meeting
  • Letter 2:Unfair Practice Co-ordinator sending student the notes of the meeting
  • Letter 3:Chair of Exam Board to student who failed to attend the initial meeting
  • Letter 4:Chair of Exam Board to student where the decision is that unfair practice has occured, and notifying student of the penalty
  • Letter 5:Chair of Exam Board to student where the decision is that no unfair practice occurred and no further action will be taken

5.0Unfair practice in a formal examination: initial stages

5.1 When it is considered or suspected that a candidate is engaging in unfair practice, the candidate shall be informed, preferably in the presence of a witness, that the circumstances will be reported. The candidate shall, however, be allowed to continue the examination and any subsequent examination(s) without prejudice to any decision that may be taken. Failure to give such a warning shall not, however, prejudice subsequent proceedings.

When appropriate, the invigilator shall confiscate and retain evidence relating to any alleged unfair examination practice, so that it is available to any subsequent investigation. The invigilator shall as soon as possible report the circumstances in writing, with any evidence retained, to the Superintendent of Examinations, who shall in turn inform the Chair of the relevant Examining Board.

In the case of a test contributing to the final module result, which is conducted under the aegis of the department, the invigilator shall report to the Chair of the Examining Board, who in turn shall report to the Superintendent

5.2 Suspected unfair practice detected during or after the marking period

An internal or external examiner or any other person who, whether during the marking period or subsequently, considers or suspects that a candidate has engaged in an unfair practice, shall report the matter in writing to the Chair of the relevant Examining Board as soon as possible. The Chair shall retain any relevant evidence and shall forthwith report the matter in writing to the Superintendent of Examinations. The Superintendent of Examinations shall then take the action prescribed below.

5.3Further action to be taken by the Superintendent of Examinations

On receipt of a report concerning an allegation of unfair practice, the Superintendent of Examinations shall discuss the matter with the Chair of the relevant Examining Board to determine whether, in the light of all the circumstances, a prima facie case has been established.

If it is decided that no further action against the candidate should be taken, the Chair of the relevant Examining Board shall, where appropriate, inform the candidate in writing that the matter is closed.

If satisfied that such a case exists, the Superintendent shall report the case in writing to the Registrar and shall send to him/her copies of any relevant supporting evidence. The procedure shown shall then operate as described.

The Registrar shall inform the candidate in writing of the allegation, and that a Committee of Inquiry will be constituted to consider the case. The candidate's attention shall be drawn to the Academic Regulation on Unfair Practice.

Contents

Definition of Unfair Practice|Unfair Practice in a Formal Examination - Initial Stages|All Cases of Unfair Practice in Work Completed Under Non-examinable Conditions|School Level Cases|Appeals against a case at School level|Cases to be referred to the University's Committee of Enquiry|Unfair practice in work completed in Taught Master's Dissertations and Research Degree Theses - Initial Stages|Establishment of the University's Committee of Enquiry to deal with cases of Unfair Practice|Functions of the Committee|Procedure during the meeting|Penalties available to the #Committee for unfair practice in examination conditions|Penalties available to the Committee of Enquiry in cases of Unfair Practice in non-examination conditions|Penalties available to the Committee in cases of Unfair Practice in Research degrees (including Part II Taught Masters degrees)|Action to be taken following the Committee of Enquiry|Appeals


3.0Examples of unfair practice in non-examination conditions:

  1. plagiarism, which can be defined as using another person's work and presenting it as one's own: examples include
    • copying another person's work
    • unacknowledged translation of another person's work in order to present it as one's own
    • paraphrasing or adapting another person's work without due acknowledgment
    • unacknowledged use of material downloaded from the internet
    • use of material obtained from essay banks or similar agencies
  2. collusion: this occurs
    1. when work that has been undertaken by or with others is submitted and passed off as solely the work of one person
    2. when the work of one candidate is submitted in the name of another; when this is done with the knowledge of the originator, both parties can be considered to be at fault
  3. fabrication of data, making false claims to have carried out experiments, observations, interviews or other forms of data collection and analysis, or acting dishonestly in any other way
  4. presenting evidence of special circumstances to Examining Boards, which is false or falsified or which is, in any way, intended to mislead Examining Boards

1. Definition of Unfair Practice

1.1 It is unfair practice to commit any act whereby a person may obtain for himself/herself or for another, an unpermitted advantage. This shall apply whether candidates act alone or in conjunction with another/others. An action or actions shall be deemed to fall within this definition whether occurring during, or in relation to, a formal examination, a piece of coursework, or any form of assessment undertaken in pursuit of an academic or professional qualification at Swansea University.

The University has distinct procedures and penalties for dealing with allegations of unfair practice in:

§ examination conditions (see below)

§ non-examination conditions (see below)

§ Research Degrees (see below)

Schools may employ relevant means of detecting and investigating cases of unfair practice, for instance through the use of plagiarism detection software or by mean of an oral examination/viva. Schools may also choose to implement a system of random vivas in particular subject areas. Some Schools may also allow students to access the detection software to assess whether any unattributed text remains within the assignment.

Without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing, examples of unfair practice are shown in section 1.2 and 1.3.

1.2 Examples of Unfair Practice in Examination Conditions

It is unfair practice to:

§ introduce into an examination room any unauthorised form of materials such as a book, manuscript, data or loose papers, information obtained via an electronic device or any source of unauthorised information;

§ copy from or communicate with any other person in the examination room, except as authorised by an invigilator;

§ communicate electronically with any other person;

§ impersonate an examination candidate or allow oneself to be impersonated;

§ present evidence of special circumstances to examination boards which is false or falsified or which in any way misleads or could mislead examination boards;

§ present an examination script as your own work when the script includes material produced by unauthorised means. This includes plagiarism.

1.3 Examples of unfair practice in non-examination conditions:

§ Plagiarism.Plagiarism can be defined as using without acknowledgment another person's work and submitting it for assessment as though it were one's own work, for instance, through copying or unacknowledged paraphrasing (see 1.4 below). This constitutes plagiarism whether it is intentional or unintentional;

§ Collusion.Collusion can be defined as involving two or more students working together in order to gain an unfair advantage without prior authorisation from the academic member of staff concerned (e.g Programme leader, lecturer etc) to produce the same or similar piece of work and then attempting to present this work entirely as their own. It is also considered unfair practice for a student/students to submit the work of another with or without the knowledge of the originator. An allegation of collusion may be amended during a hearing/investigation to allow a student to be exonerated of the offence whilst alleging plagiarism against another student(s);

§ Commissioning of work produced by another;

§ Falsification of the results of laboratory, field-work or other forms of data collection and analysis.

1.4 Examples of Plagiarism:

§ use of any quotation(s) from the published or unpublished work of other persons which have not been clearly identified as such by being placed in quotation marks and acknowledged;

§ summarising another person's ideas, judgements, figures, software or diagrams without reference to that person in the text and the source in the bibliography;

§ use of the services of `ghost writing' agencies in the preparation of assessed work;

§ use of unacknowledged material downloaded from the Internet;

§ submission of another student's work as your own.

2. Unfair Practice in a Formal Examination Initial Stages

2.1 Unfair Practice in the Examination Room

An invigilator who considers, or suspects, that a candidate is engaging in unfair practice shall inform such a candidate, preferably in the presence of a witness, that the circumstances will be reported. The candidate shall, however, be allowed to continue the examination and any subsequent examination(s) without prejudice to any decision which may be taken. Failure to give such a warning shall not, however, prejudice subsequent proceedings.

Where appropriate, the invigilator shall confiscate and retain evidence relating to any alleged unfair examination practice, so that it is available to any subsequent investigation. The invigilator shall as soon as possible report the circumstances, verbally in the first instance and thereafter in writing, to the Examinations Officer who shall in turn notify the School's unfair practice representative and the Superintendent of Assessment.

In cases where a student has written on their person, the invigilator may contact the Examinations Office and request that a member of staff from the School attend the examination and confirm whether the writing is relevant to the subject/examination. Where possible a photograph of the evidence may also been taken.

2.2 Unfair Practice in In-class Tests

In the case of an unseen written test which contributes to the final module result, which is conducted under the aegis of the School, the invigilator should report the case to the School's unfair practice representative in the first instance, who in turn shall report the case to the Superintendent of Assessment.

2.3 Unauthorised Electronic Devices in the Examination venue

Any student found in possession of an unauthorised electronic device e.g mobile phone etc during the examination, shall be reported by the invigilator to the Superintendent of Assessment who will determine whether a prima facie case of unfair practice has been established (see 2.5).

2.4 Suspected Unfair Practice Detected During or Subsequent to the Marking Period (Examination cases)

An internal or external examiner who, whether in the course of the marking period or subsequently, considers or suspects that a candidate has engaged in unfair practice, shall report the matter in writing to the School's unfair practice representative as soon as possible. He/she shall retain any relevant evidence and shall forthwith report the matter in writing to the Superintendent of Assessment. The Superintendent of Assessment shall then take the action prescribed below.

2.5 Unfair Practice involving material purchased from a web site/essay bank

In cases of unfair practice involving an allegation that a student purchased material from an essay purchasing site, money may be made available to allow the University to purchase the material

2.6 Further action to be taken by the Superintendent of Assessment

On receipt of a report concerning an allegation of unfair practice, the Superintendent of Assessment shall determine whether, in the light of all the circumstances, a prima facie case has been established.

In some cases the Superintendent of Assessment may decide that poor referencing has occurred. In such instances the student should be referred to their Tutor for advice and guidance on referencing. Once they have met with their Tutor students should then be asked to sign a statement confirming that they have received advice and understand referencing conventions.

2.7 If it is decided that no further action against the candidate shall be taken, the School's unfair practice representative or the Examination Officer shall, where appropriate, inform the candidate in writing that the matter is closed.

2.8 If satisfied that such a case exists, the Superintendent shall report the case in writing to the Academic Registrar and shall send to the Academic Registrar copies of any relevant supporting evidence. The procedure shown shall then operate as described.

2.9 The candidate shall be informed in writing by the Academic Registrar's department of the allegation and that a Committee of Enquiry will be constituted to consider the case.

3. Unfair Practice Under Non-examinable Conditions

All Cases of Unfair Practice in Work Completed Under Non-examinable Conditions (excluding Taught Masters Dissertations and Research Degree Theses - Initial Stages)

In cases of suspected unfair practice in work completed under non- examinable conditions (excluding Taught Master's Dissertations and Research Degree Theses), Schools will be expected to carry out the following stages. The burden of proof (duty of proving the allegation) shall rest on the School and the standard of proof should be on the balance of probabilities. Depending upon the consequences of the allegation being proven the degree of culpability shall be towards the higher end of the scale. (i.e. in the event of the allegation being proven, the more severe the consequences are e.g. on a student's future career, the higher the standard of proof shall be applied) if it is likely that a student will be prevented from pursuing a career (Law/Social work/Nursing etc).

Cases involving Taught Master's Dissertations and Research Degree Theses should be dealt with under 7.

School Level Cases non-examination cases (excluding PG Research degrees)

Each School shall appoint a minimum of two Unfair Practice representatives to deal with School level (first offence) cases. In each case one Unfair Practice representative will carry out the investigation of the case and confirm whether a prima facie case has been established. It shall be the responsibility of the second representative to confirm that an unfair practice offence has been committed and to determine the penalty. The allocation of responsibilities shall be left to the discretion of the School; however, the Head of School must ensure that all staff are aware of the reporting procedure.

3.1 Stage One - Report to School Unfair Practice Representative

If a member of staff considers, or suspects, that unfair practice has occurred in relation to work submitted as a piece of coursework, or any work completed under non-examination conditions (excluding Post-Graduate dissertations and research degree thesis) he/she shall report the matter in writing to the appropriate School's Unfair Practice Representative, normally within five working days.

3.2 Stage Two - Establishing a Prima Facie Case

The School's Unfair Practice Representative or nominee shall first decide whether a prima facie case for treating the matter as a case of unfair practice has been determined by referring to the documentation/evidence and where required through discussion with the student. If necessary the student may be invited to attend for interview, in such instances the student should be informed of their right to be accompanied at the interview and that a record of the meeting will be taken. If no case exists the student should be informed and no further action shall be taken.

3.3 Stage Three - Student Response to Allegation

If a prima facie case exists, the School's Unfair Practice representative or nominee should inform the student concerned of the suspected case of unfair practice and invite the student to comment in writing (A template will be available from the Academic Registry.) Students should be provided with copies of evidence normally this will be a copy of the marked-up essay and/or the Turnitin report, sources etc. In cases of collusion students should be sent copies of all the work under investigation, or extracts as appropriate. However, the identity of the other student(s) should not be disclosed.

The School representative does not have to take intent into consideration and In relation to an allegation of unfair practice there can be no defence that the offence was committee unintentionally or accidentally. Such circumstances can however be submitted by the student as mitigation in relation to the penalty to be imposed.

3.4 Stage Four - Substantiating the case

If the School's Unfair Practice Representative is convinced that there is sufficient evidence to substantiate the case on a balance of probabilities, then he/she shall determine whether the case can be heard at the School level or referred to the Committee of Enquiry in accordance with the regulations below. If there is sufficient doubt about the evidence then the case should be dismissed and the student informed of this decision in writing. In some cases the Unfair Practice Representative may decide that poor referencing has occurred. In such instances the student should be referred to their Tutor for advice and guidance on referencing. Once they have met with their Tutor students should then be asked to sign a statement confirming that they have received advice and understand referencing conventions.

3.5 Stage Five - Previous Offences

The School Representative shall contact the Academic Registry to clarify whether there any previous offences for the student. Schools should also examine any other work, previously submitted by the student, (including work submitted in other Schools/Subject areas where the student has pursued modules for other possible instances of unfair practice.) Where additional instances of unfair practice are found the School should also inform the student of these suspected cases and allow the student to comment in writing (see above).

3.6 Stage Six - Determining where the case is dealt with by the School or Committee of Enquiry

Only first allegations of a less serious nature can be heard at the School level. Any allegation subsequent to a substantiated offence must be referred to the University's Committee of Enquiry.

Where additional evidence of unfair practice is found or the School feel that the case is of a serious nature (e.g. a significant part of the assignment has been plagiarised; involves the purchasing of an essay etc) the School Unfair Practice representative should take into account the following in determining whether it would be more appropriate to consider the case at the School level or refer the case to a University Committee of Enquiry,

§ the weighting of the coursework within the module

§ the number of pieces of work affected

§ the seriousness of the offence

§ the total number of credits affected

§ the level of study

The Unfair Practice Representative may approach the Academic Registry for advice in determining whether a case should be dealt with by the School or the University's Committee of Enquiry and should refer to the guidance in the University's Code of Practice.

In cases of a second allegation/offence (where a student has previously been found guilty of an unfair practice offence) and in those cases which the School wishes to refer to a University Committee of Enquiry, the School's Unfair Practice representative should notify the Superintendent of Assessment who will refer the case to the Academic Registrar and request that a University Committee of Enquiry be established to consider the case (see regulation 8.8).

8.1 Definition of Unfair Practice

It is unfair practice to commit any act whereby a person may obtain for himself/herself or for another, an unpermitted advantage. This shall apply whether candidates act alone or in conjunction with another/others. An action or actions shall be deemed to fall within this definition whether occurring during, or in relation to, a formal examination, a piece of coursework, or any form of assessment undertaken in pursuit of an academic or professional qualification at Swansea University.

The University has distinct procedures and penalties for dealing with allegations of unfair practice in:

  • examination conditions (see below)
  • non-examination conditions (see below)
  • Research Degrees (see below)

Schools may employ relevant means of detecting cases of unfair practice, for instance through the use of plagiarism detection software or by means of an oral examination/viva. Schools may also choose to implement a system of random vivas in particular subject areas. Some Schools may also allow students to access the detection software to assess whether any unattributed text remains within the assignment.

Without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing, examples of unfair practice are shown in section 8.1.2 and 8.1.3.

8.1.2 Examples of unfair practice in examination conditions

It is unfair practice to:

  • introduce into an examination room any unauthorised form of materials such as a book, manuscript, data or loose papers, information obtained via an electronic device or any source of unauthorised information;
  • copy from or communicate with any other person in the examination room, except as authorised by an invigilator;
  • communicate electronically with any other person;
  • impersonate an examination candidate or allow oneself to be impersonated;
  • present evidence of special circumstances to examination boards which is false or falsified or which in any way misleads or could mislead examination boards;
  • present an examination script as your own work when the script includes material produced by unauthorised means. This includes plagiarism.

8.1.3 Examples of unfair practice in non-examination conditions:

  • Plagiarism.Plagiarism can be defined as using without acknowledgment another person's work and submitting it for assessment as though it were one's own work, for instance, through copying or unacknowledged paraphrasing (see 8.1.4 below). This constitutes plagiarism whether it is intentional or unintentional;
  • Collusion.Collusion can be defined as involving two or more students working together, without prior authorisation from the academic member of staff concerned (e.g Programme leader, lecturer etc) to produce the same or similar piece of work and then attempting to present this work entirely as their own. Collusion may also involve one student submitting the work of another with the knowledge of the originator. An allegation of collusion may be amended during a hearing/investigation to allow a student to be exonerated of the offence whilst alleging plagiarism against another student(s);
  • Commissioning of work produced by another;
  • Falsification of the results of laboratory, field-work or other forms of data collection and analysis.

8.1.4 Examples of plagiarism:

  • use of any quotation(s) from the published or unpublished work of other persons which have not been clearly identified as such by being placed in quotation marks and acknowledged;
  • summarising another person's ideas, judgements, figures, software or diagrams without reference to that person in the text and the source in the bibliography;
  • use of the services of `ghost writing' agencies in the preparation of assessed work;
  • use of unacknowledged material downloaded from the Internet;
  • submission of another student's work as your own.

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8.2 Unfair Practice in a Formal Examination - Initial Stages

8.2.1 Unfair Practice in the Examination Room

An invigilator who considers, or suspects, that a candidate is engaging in unfair practice shall inform such a candidate, preferably in the presence of a witness, that the circumstances will be reported. The candidate shall, however, be allowed to continue the examination and any subsequent examination(s) without prejudice to any decision which may be taken. Failure to give such a warning shall not, however, prejudice subsequent proceedings.

Where appropriate, the invigilator shall confiscate and retain evidence relating to any alleged unfair examination practice, so that it is available to any subsequent investigation. The invigilator shall as soon as possible report the circumstances, verbally in the first instance and thereafter in writing, to the Examinations Officer who shall in turn notify the School's unfair practice representative and the Superintendent of Assessment.

In cases where a student has written on their person, the invigilator should contact the Examinations Office and request that a member of staff from the School attend the examination and confirm whether the writing is relevant to the subject/examination. Where possible a photograph of the evidence should also been taken.

8.2.2 Unfair Practice in In-class Tests

In the case of an unseen written test which contributes to the final module result, which is conducted under the aegis of the School, the invigilator should report the case to the School's unfair practice representative in the first instance, who in turn shall report the case to the Superintendent of Assessment.

8.2.3 Unauthorised Electronic Devices in the Examination venue

Any student found in possession of an unauthorised electronic device e.g mobile phone etc during the examination, which has not been used or there is no evidence that it has been used, shall be reported by the invigilator to the Superintendent of Assessment who will impose an automatic penalty of cancellation for the mark for the examination paper. The Academic Registrar will inform the student of this in writing. Normally, such students will have no right of appeal.

Where there is suspicion/evidence that the electronic device may have been used e.g witnessed by the invigilator, such cases should be referred to the Superintendent of Assessment who will determine whether a prima facie case of unfair practice has been established (see 8.2.5).

8.2.4 Suspected Unfair Practice Detected During or Subsequent to the Marking Period (Examination cases)

An internal or external examiner who, whether in the course of the marking period or subsequently, considers or suspects that a candidate has engaged in unfair practice, shall report the matter in writing to the School's unfair practice representative as soon as possible. He/she shall retain any relevant evidence and shall forthwith report the matter in writing to the Superintendent of Assessment. The Superintendent of Assessment shall then take the action prescribed below.

8.2.5 Unfair Practice involving material purchased from a web site/essay bank

In cases of unfair practice involving an allegation that a student purchased material from an essay purchasing site, money may be made available to allow the University to purchase the material

8.2.6 Further action to be taken by the Superintendent of Assessment

On receipt of a report concerning an allegation of unfair practice, the Superintendent of Assessment shall determine whether, in the light of all the circumstances, a prima facie case has been established.

In some cases the Superintendent of Assessment may decide that poor referencing has occurred. In such instances the student should be referred to their Tutor for advice and guidance on referencing. Once they have met with their Tutor students should then be asked to sign a statement confirming that they have received advice and understand referencing conventions.

8.2.7 If it is decided that no further action against the candidate shall be taken, the School's unfair practice representative or the Examination Officer shall, where appropriate, inform the candidate in writing that the matter is closed.

8.2.8 If satisfied that such a case exists, the Superintendent shall report the case in writing to the Academic Registrar and shall send to the Academic Registrar copies of any relevant supporting evidence. The procedure shown shall then operate as described.

8.2.9 The candidate shall be informed in writing by the Academic Registrar's department of the allegation and that a Committee of Enquiry will be constituted to consider the case.

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8.3 All Cases of Unfair Practice in Work Completed Under Non-examinable Conditions (excluding Taught Masters Dissertations and Research Degree Theses - Initial Stages)

In cases of suspected unfair practice in work completed under non- examinable conditions (excluding Taught Master's Dissertations and Research Degree Theses), Schools will be expected to carry out the following stages. The burden of proof (duty of proving the allegation) shall rest on the School and the standard of proof should be on the balance of probabilities. Depending upon the consequences of the allegation being proven the degree of culpability shall be towards the higher end of the scale. (i.e. in the event of the allegation being proven, the more severe the consequences are e.g. on a student's future career, the higher the standard of proof shall be applied) if it is likely that a student will be prevented from pursuing a career (Law/Social work/Nursing etc).

Cases involving Taught Master's Dissertations and Research Degree Theses should be dealt with under 8.8.

School Level Cases non-examination cases (excluding PG Research degrees)

Each School shall appoint a minimum of two Unfair Practice representatives to deal with School level (first offence) cases. In each case one Unfair Practice representative will carry out the investigation of the case and confirm whether a prima facie case has been established. It shall be the responsibility of the second representative to confirm that an unfair practice offence has been committed and to determine the penalty. The allocation of responsibilities shall be left to the discretion of the School; however, the Head of School must ensure that all staff are aware of the reporting procedure.

8.3.1 Stage One - Report to School Unfair Practice Representative

If a member of staff considers, or suspects, that unfair practice has occurred in relation to work submitted as a piece of coursework, or any work completed under non-examination conditions (excluding Post-Graduate dissertations and research degree thesis) he/she shall report the matter in writing to the appropriate School's Unfair Practice Representative, normally within five working days.

8.3.2 Stage Two - Establishing a Prima Facie Case

The School's Unfair Practice Representative or nominee shall first decide whether a prima facie case for treating the matter as a case of unfair practice has been determined by referring to the documentation/evidence and where required through discussion with the student. If necessary the student may be invited to attend for interview, in such instances the student should be informed of their right to be accompanied at the interview and that a record of the meeting will be taken. If no case exists the student should be informed and no further action shall be taken.

8.3.3 Stage Three - Student Response to Allegation

If a prima facie case exists, the School's Unfair Practice representative or nominee should inform the student concerned of the suspected case of unfair practice and invite the student to comment in writing (A template will be available from the Academic Registry.) Students should be provided with copies of evidence normally this will be a copy of the marked-up essay and/or the Turnitin report, sources etc. In cases of collusion students should be sent copies of all the work under investigation, or extracts as appropriate. However, the identity of the other student(s) should not be disclosed.

The School representative does not have to take intent into consideration and In relation to an allegation of unfair practice there can be no defence that the offence was committee unintentionally or accidentally. Such circumstances can however be submitted by the student as mitigation in relation to the penalty to be imposed.

8.3.4 Stage Four - Substantiating the case

If the School's Unfair Practice Representative is convinced that there is sufficient evidence to substantiate the case on a balance of probabilities, then he/she shall determine whether the case can be heard at the School level or referred to the Committee of Enquiry in accordance with the regulations below. If there is sufficient doubt about the evidence then the case should be dismissed and the student informed of this decision in writing. In some cases the Unfair Practice Representative may decide that poor referencing has occurred. In such instances the student should be referred to their Tutor for advice and guidance on referencing. Once they have met with their Tutor students should then be asked to sign a statement confirming that they have received advice and understand referencing conventions.

8.3.5 Stage Five - Previous Offences

The School Representative shall contact the Academic Registry to clarify whether there any previous offences for the student. Schools should also examine any other work, previously submitted by the student, (including work submitted in other Schools/Subject areas where the student has pursued modules for other possible instances of unfair practice.) Where additional instances of unfair practice are found the School should also inform the student of these suspected cases and allow the student to comment in writing (see above).

8.3.6 Stage Six - Determining where the case is dealt with by the School or Committee of Enquiry

Only first allegations of a less serious nature can be heard at the School level. Any allegation subsequent to a substantiated offence must be referred to the University's Committee of Enquiry.

Where additional evidence of unfair practice is found or the School feel that the case is of a serious nature (e.g. a significant part of the assignment has been plagiarised; involves the purchasing of an essay etc) the School Unfair Practice representative should take into account the following in determining whether it would be more appropriate to consider the case at the School level or refer the case to a University Committee of Enquiry,

  • the weighting of the coursework within the module
  • the number of pieces of work affected
  • the seriousness of the offence
  • the total number of credits affected
  • the level of study

The Unfair Practice Representative may approach the Academic Registry for advice in determining whether a case should be dealt with by the School or the University's Committee of Enquiry and should refer to the guidance in the University's Code of Practice.

In cases of a second allegation/offence (where a student has previously been found guilty of an unfair practice offence) and in those cases which the School wishes to refer to a University Committee of Enquiry, the School's Unfair Practice representative should notify the Superintendent of Assessment who will refer the case to the Academic Registrar and request that a University Committee of Enquiry be established to consider the case (see regulation 8.8).

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8.4 School Level Cases

8.4.1 In cases of a first allegation (no previous offence) of a less serious nature the student will be informed that, following an investigation, the second School Unfair Practice Representative has substantiated the allegation and should be notified of the penalty to be imposed. The School may impose one of the following penalties, however, the normal penalty for such cases shall be the cancellation of the mark for the module(s) concerned. The Unfair Practice representative may consult with colleagues in arriving at a penalty.

8.4.2 Penalties

8.4.2.1 the issue of a written reprimand to the candidate and the text to be ignored when marking, resulting in a reduced mark;

8.4.2.2 the cancellation of the candidate's marks for the assignment;

8.4.2.3 the cancellation of the candidate's mark for the module concerned;

8.4.2.4 The cancellation of the canididates marks in all of the modules for the level of study

In cases of 8.4.2.4 the School would need evidence to support the seriousness of the offence.

(The School may refer to the University's Code of Practice in determining the penalty.)

8.4.3 Informing the student

The School should inform the student of the decision in writing (a template is available from the Academic Registry). A copy of the Case Report should also be enclosed. Where possible the School should, in confirming the decision, inform the student whether he/she can redeem the failure during the same academic session and whether the retrieval will be capped (a standard template is available from the Academic Registry.) Marks for Level 2/3 (non-final), final year and Level M students will be capped. The penalty shall be recorded on the student's central record.

The student will also be notified of the University's appeals procedure. However, students will be warned that this could result in a more severe penalty being imposed. A copy of the letter shall be sent to the Academic Registry and the Superintendent of Assessment.

Where an allegation has been substantiated, and the School is concerned that this may affect the candidate's ability to practice in a particular profession, the case may also be referred to the Head of School who will decide whether to inform the professional body. In some instances it is obligatory to inform a professional body.

8.4.4 Report

The School Unfair Practice Representative shall draft a report on each case noting the evidence considered, the procedures, the reason for the decisions and the penalty imposed (a template shall be available from the Academic Registry). The report, along with a copy of the letter shall be sent to the Academic Registry. The report may be considered in cases of appeal.

8.4.5 Survey of Penalties

In order to ensure consistency the Academic Regulations Committee may carry out a survey of penalties.

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8.5 Appeals against a case at School level

8.5.1 Students who wish to appeal against the penalty above shall be informed that they may appeal in accordance with the University's Final Appeals Procedures.

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8.6 Cases to be referred to the University's Committee of Enquiry

8.6.1 Informing the Superintendent of Assessment

The School's Unfair Practice Representative should inform the Superintendent of Assessment in writing, who shall confirm either that:

i. a case exists and inform the Head of School and the Academic Registrar that a Committee of Enquiry should be convened

or

ii. that no case exists and that no further action should be taken.

8.6.2 If a case exists the candidate shall be informed in writing by the Academic Registrar of the allegation and that a Committee of Enquiry will be constituted to consider the case.

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8.7 Unfair practice in work completed in Taught Master's Dissertations and Research Degree Theses - Initial Stages

8.7.1 If after formal submission, a Supervisor/Examiner considers, or suspects, that unfair practice has occurred in relation to a taught Master's dissertation or a research degree thesis he/she shall report the matter in writing to the School's Unfair Practice representative as soon as possible. In cases where unfair practice is identified during the Viva, the Examination Board should be suspended and the Head of School informed.

8.7.2 The School's Unfair Practice representative shall first decide whether there is a prima facie case for treating the matter as a case of unfair practice by referring to documentation/evidence. The School's Unfair Practice representative should inform the student concerned of the suspected case of unfair practice and inform the Superintendent of Assessment in writing, who shall confirm whether a prima facie case exists. The Superintendent of Assessment should confirm either that

i. a case exists and inform the Head of School and the Academic Registrar that a Committee of Enquiry should be convened

or

ii. that no case exists and that no further action should be taken.

8.7.3 If a case exists, the candidate shall be informed in writing by the Academic Registrar of the allegation and that a Committee of Enquiry will be constituted to consider the case.

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8.8 Establishment of the University's Committee of Enquiry to deal with cases of Unfair Practice

8.8.1 On receipt of an allegation of unfair practice submitted by a Superintendent of Assessment, the Academic Registrar shall arrange for an appropriate Committee of Enquiry to be convened as soon as possible, normally within a month of the allegation being made, and for a member of the Academic Registry to act as Secretary to the Committee. The Superintendent of Assessment, who shall present the case against the candidate, shall not act as Secretary to the Committee.

8.8.2 Each Committee of Enquiry shall consist of 3 members. This shall include an experienced Chair (selected from a list of Chairs by the Academic Registrar or his/her nominee) and two members drawn from the Academic staff of the University. The Committee of Enquiry shall not contain members of staff from a discipline in which the student is studying.

8.8.3 As soon as reasonably practicable after the appointment of the Committee of Enquiry, and bearing in mind the University's expectation that such cases should be heard normally within a month of the allegation being made, the Secretary shall:

1. send to the candidate copies of statements of witnesses and of documents to be placed before the Committee of Enquiry, and offer the candidate an opportunity to indicate any statement or documents which may be in dispute;

2. notify the Superintendent of Assessment and members of the Committee of Enquiry of the date, place and time of the meeting and supply them with copies of the allegation and of any statements or documents.

The Secretary shall, at the same time, inform the candidate of the date, place and time when the Committee of Enquiry intends to meet and that he/she shall have the right to be accompanied . A student may bring an interpreter with him/her if it is felt that he/she will not be able to understand the proceedings fully. It is the student's responsibility to arrange such a translator and to be responsible for their fees. The student shall notify the Secretary of the name of the translator in advance of the meeting. Any documentary evidence to be presented in the student's defence should be sent to the Academic Registrar prior to the date of the meeting and circulated to members of the Committee. Any further evidence made available on the date of the meeting may be presented to the Committee but only with the express permission of the Chair.

In relation to an allegation of Unfair practice there can be no defence that the offence was committee unintentionally or accidentally. Such circumstances can however be submitted by the student as mitigation in relation to the penalty to be imposed.

The candidate shall be required to inform the Secretary whether or not he/she intends to attend the meeting of the Committee of Enquiry. If the candidate indicates that he/she does not wish to attend the meeting, the Committee of Enquiry shall proceed in his/her absence. Normally a student may not send any other person tothe meeting in his/her absence unless this is authorised by the Chair prior to the meeting. Where no response is received from a student and that all reasonable means have been taken to contact the candidate, the meeting shall proceed in his/her absence. In exceptional circumstance provision may be made for one postponement.

8.8.4 Committee hearings should be held at Swansea University unless alternative regulations have been agreed upon e.g. Collaborative Partner's campus.

8.8.5 Committee hearings shall be held in English or, at the request of a student, in Welsh. Students wishing to have the hearing in Welsh shall notify the Secretary, upon receiving notification of the hearing date, in order for translation services to be arranged by the University's Welsh Language office. Such services shall be provided free of charge to the student.

8.8.6 A candidate who intends to be accompanied shall inform the Secretary of the name of the person accompanying him/her in writing in advance and shall state whether or not the person representing or accompanying him/her has legal qualifications. Such persons cannot attend the meeting in a legal capacity.

8.8.7 Should a candidate not attend the meeting of the Committee of Enquiry, having previously indicated to the Secretary that he/she would attend, and provided that all reasonable means have been taken to contact the candidate, the meeting shall proceed in his/her absence.

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8.9 Functions of the Committee

The functions of the Committee of Enquiry shall be:

  • to consider the evidence submitted to it on the allegation of unfair practice;
  • to determine whether the allegation has been substantiated;
  • to determine, in appropriate cases, the penalty, which should be imposed.

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8.10 Procedure during the meeting

8.10.1 In cases where two or more candidates are accused of related offences, such as in the case of collusion, the Chair may decide to deal with the cases together. However, each candidate must be given the opportunity to request that the cases be heard separately.

8.10.2 The Superintendent of Assessment shall present the case, on behalf of the University, against the candidate, calling such witnesses and presenting such evidence as the Superintendent thinks fit.

The Superintendent may question both the candidate and witnesses. The candidate may question the witnesses called by the Superintendent of Assessment.

8.10.3 The candidate shall have the right to be represented or accompanied, to hear all the evidence brought against him/her, to call and question witnesses, and to submit other evidence. The Chair may invite contributions from the person accompanying the student.

8.10.4 Witnesses can only be concerned with evidence relating directly to the allegation and shall normally withdraw after questioning. The Chair may wish to consider allowing witnesses to remain in the hearing throughout the procedures. The agreement of both parties should be obtained.

8.10.5 Additional documentary evidence may only be presented to the Committee on the day of the hearing with the express permission of the Chair.

8.10.6 When the submission of evidence and the questioning of witnesses are completed, all persons, other than the members of the Committee, the secretary and other Academic Registry staff if present, shall withdraw.

8.10.7 The Chair of the Committee may approve an adjournment of the hearing following a reasonable request from either party or from the Committee itself. For example to gain further evidence, such as to obtain documentary evidence in support of an oral statement made or to test a student's knowledge of the work in question if there remains uncertainty that the work is the student's own work.

8.10.8 The Committee of Enquiry shall then consider whether the allegation has been substantiated, the burden of proof (duty of proving the allegation) shall rest on the University and the standard of proof should be on the balance of probabilities. Depending upon the consequences of the allegation being proven the degree of culpability shall be towards the higher end of the scale (i.e in the event of the allegation being proven, the more severe the consequences are, the higher the standard of proof shall be) if it is likely that a student will be prevented from pursuing a career (Law/Social Work/Nursing, etc).

8.10.9 The Committee of Enquiry shall not normally be informed, before reaching its verdict on the allegation under consideration, of any evidence of previously substantiated allegations of unfair practice; the Committee should be so informed before determining the penalty in appropriate cases.

However, in exceptional cases, evidence of previous substantiated acts of unfair practice may be disclosed prior to the verdict of the Committee where such evidence:

  • rebuts a claim of previous good character made by the candidate/representative;
  • is relevant to the allegation under consideration (other than merely showing that the candidate had a disposition to commit the facts alleged) and its prejudicial effect does not outweigh its probative value.

8.10.10 The Committee does not have to take intent into consideration. However, mitigation may be considered in relation to the penalty.

8.10.11 If the Committee finds that the case has been substantiated, it shall then consider the penalty to be imposed. Penalties are divided into:

  • Penalties available for unfair practice in examination conditions (8.11)
  • Penalties available for unfair practice under non-examination conditions (see 8.12)

8.10.12 If the Committee finds that the case has not been substantiated the candidate shall be informed of the outcome in writing. All record of the case shall be removed from the student's file.

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8.11 Penalties available to the Committee for unfair practice in examination conditions

The Committee should consult the Code of Practice, case history and the candidate's academic record before imposing a penalty. In order to ensure consistency in the application of penalties the University provides guidance on normal penalties in the Code of Practice on Unfair Practice. The normal penalty for unfair practice in examination conditions shall be the cancellation of the candidate's marks in all of the modules for the particular level of study. However, the Committee may wish to take into consideration mitigating circumstances. The Committee should be convinced that the mitigating circumstances have a direct bearing on the case and in particular had influenced the action of the student concerned. The full list of penalties available to the Committee of Enquiry shall be:

8.11.1 the issue of a written reprimand to the candidate, a record of the reprimand should be kept;

8.11.2 the cancellation of the candidate's marks for the whole examination paper;

8.11.3 the cancellation of the candidate's marks for the whole module concerned;

8.11.4 the cancellation of the candidate's mark in the module concerned and the preclusion of redeeming the failure until the next academic session;

8.11.5 the cancellation of the candidate's marks in all of the modules for the particular level of study;

8.11.6 the cancellation of the candidate's marks in all of the modules for the particular level of study and the disqualification of the candidate from any future University examination;

8.11.7 In the event of a Committee deciding that the above penalties are inappropriate, the Committee may use its discretion to decide upon an appropriate penalty.

Where an allegation has been substantiated, and this may affect the candidate's ability to practise in a particular profession, the case may also be referred to the Head of School who will decide whether to inform the professional body. In some instances the Head of School will be obliged to inform the Professional Body.

Retrieval and Capping

Where the Committee chooses to implement any of the penalties shown above, except 8.11.1 or 8.11.5, the candidate concerned may be allowed, where the regulations for the programme of study so permit, to re-take the work(s)/ assessment(s) in question, retaining eligibility for the capped mark only (all levels other than L0/L1). Where 8.11.5 is applied prior to the end of the session a candidate may be required to suspend their studies.

The penalty shall be recorded on the student's central record.

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8.12 Penalties available to the Committee of Enquiry in cases of Unfair Practice in non-examination conditions

The Committee should consult the Code of Practice, case history and the candidate's academic record before imposing a penalty. In order to ensure consistency in the application of penalties, the University provides guidance on normal penalties in the Code of Practice on Unfair Practice. The normal penalty for unfair practice in non-examination conditions (first offence) shall be the cancellation of the candidate's mark(s) in the module(s) concerned. However, the Committee may wish to take into consideration the seriousness of the offence and impose a harsher penalty in accordance with the Code of Practice. Alternatively it might take into account mitigating circumstances. The Committee should be convinced that the mitigating circumstances have a direct bearing on the case and, in particular, had influenced the action of the students concerned. The full list of penalties available to the Committee of Enquiry shall be:

8.12.1 The issue of a written reprimand to the candidate, a record of the reprimand should be kept;

8.12.2 the text to be ignored when marking, resulting in a reduced mark;

8.12.3 the cancellation of the candidate's marks for the assignment;

8.12.4 the cancellation of the candidate's mark in the module concerned;

8.12.5 the cancellation of the candidate's mark in the module concerned and the preclusion of redeeming the failure until the next academic session;

8.12.6 the cancellation of the candidate's marks in all of the modules for the particular level of study;

8.12.7 the cancellation of the candidate's mark in all of the modules for the particular level of study and the disqualification of the candidate from any future University examination;

8.12.8 In the event of a Committee deciding that the above penalties are inappropriate, the Committee may use its discretion to decide upon an appropriate penalty.

Where an allegation has been substantiated, and this may affect the candidate's ability to practise in a particular profession, the case may also be referred to the Head of School who will decide whether to inform the professional body. In some instances the Head of School will be obliged to inform the Professional Body.

Retrieval and Capping

Where the Committee chooses to implement any of the penalties shown above, except 8.12.1 or 8.12.6, the candidate concerned may be allowed, where the regulations for the programme of study so permit, to re-take the work(s)/ assessment(s) in question, retaining eligibility for the capped mark only (all levels other than L0/L1). Where 8.12.6 is applied prior to the end of the session a candidate may be required to suspend their studies.

The penalty shall be recorded on the student's central record.

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8.13 Penalties available to the Committee in cases of Unfair Practice in Research degrees (including Part II Taught Masters degrees)

The Committee should consult, the Code of Practice, case history and the candidate's academic record before imposing a penalty. In order to ensure consistency in the application of penalties the University provides guidance on normal penalties in the Code of Practice on Unfair Practice. The normal penalty for unfair practice in Research degrees where substantial sections of the thesis/dissertation is plagiarised shall be that the candidate be awarded a decision of Fail, with no right of resubmission. However, the Committee may wish to take into consideration mitigating circumstances. The Committee should be convinced that the mitigating circumstances have a direct bearing on the case, and, in particular, had influenced the action of the student concerned. The full list of penalties available to the Committee of Enquiry shall be:

8.13.1 the issue of a written reprimand to the candidate;

8.13.2 the candidate be awarded a decision of Fail, with a right of resubmission;

8.13.3 the candidate be awarded a decision of Fail, with no right of resubmission;

8.13.4 in the event of a Committee deciding that the above penalties are inappropriate, the Committee may use its discretion to decide upon an appropriate pe

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