Assessment irregularities are disciplinary major offences which will be dealt with in accordance with the University’s General Regulation IV. Assessment irregularities take various forms including plagiarism, multiple submission and collusion. TEIs must ensure that all students are aware of the seriousness of these practices, and of the penalties which may be incurred.
unacknowledged use, including quotation and close paraphrasing of other people’s writing and ideas, amounting to the presentation of other person’s writings or thoughts as one’s own. This includes using material which is available on the internet, and in any other electronic form, and ‘contract cheating’ i.e. obtaining an essay from an essay writing site, or equivalent source, and submitting it for marking, as if it were your own work.
Any student's work may be uploaded to a plagiarism detection system to check for possible academic offences. All students are therefore required to sign a declaration at registration / when submitting assessed work authorising the uploading of their work onto such systems.
In the case of formative assessment, plagiarism or collusion should be dealt with informally by the TEI involved, but the serious nature of the dishonest practice should be made known to the student concerned. In the case of summative assessment, the first stages of the procedure are part of the examinations process and not a disciplinary procedure.
Cases of suspected plagiarism or collusion should be reported immediately. There should not be any delay over taking action since the consideration of such allegations at the end of the academic year can give rise to additional complications. The evidence of alleged plagiarism or collusion should be shown to the student, and the student should be asked to account for the work that they submitted.
The table below presents the procedure for dealing with suspected plagiarism. TEIs are also advised to consult our short guide on implementing the procedure for dealing with cases of suspected plagiarism in a Common Awards below.
At the end of the meeting, the panel - excluding the reporting examiner(s) - must decide upon the quantitative and qualitative extent of alleged plagiarism or collusion. This decision must be made in the light of: (a) the evidence presented; and (b) the account given by the student including any mitigation offered. Based on this decision, the panel must agree on the appropriate action to be taken. A written record of the meeting, and the panel's recommendation, must be made immediately and sent electronically to the Common Awards Team as soon as possible.
The panel's recommendation must also be communicated to the student in writing by the Chair of the TEI's Board of Examiners. The panel’s recommendation may be as follows:
We recognise that implementing this procedure in a Common Awards context can be difficult, particularly where there are non-residential students and a small, dispersed staff. The forms of reporting, the possible verdicts, and the criteria for choosing between them are fixed, but when it comes to the practicalities of arranging panels, we recognise that TEIs may need to be creative in deciding how to proceed in particular cases, in ways that do justice to the pastoral needs of the student, the demands being made upon staff, and the seriousness of the problem.
There are two key principles to bear in mind.
1. Decisions about verdicts and penalties should be made by an appropriate panel.
An appropriate panel will involve people who know the set-up within which the student is working, and who can exercise good academic judgment.
Membership of the panel. To make an impasse less likely, we ask for panels to have three members. To make sure that all involved understand the context, we ask for them to be members of the TEI’s Board of Examiners (and for one of them to be that Board’s Chair – or, where necessary, a deputy). To help keep the judgment as impartial as possible, we ask that the panel not include the markers who reported the suspected plagiarism and gathered the evidence (i.e., the ones who, in this context, are acting as accusers).
Who gathers the evidence? Our policy assumes that the report on the evidence of plagiarism will normally be produced by the marker who first discovered the problem. It may be appropriate, however, if that marker is inexperienced or otherwise unable to carry out this task, for it to be handed over to another person. TEIs will need to take this into account when working out who will serve on the panel.
Alternative arrangements. We recognise that TEIs, especially those with small numbers of staff, may sometimes not find it easy to constitute a panel in this way, but ask them in such cases to bear in mind the principles involved, and to contact us to confirm any alternative arrangements they may need to make. The idea is always to make sure the process is deliberative, fully attentive to the particular circumstances of each case, and fair.
2. Students have a right to respond to any accusation.
Students who are accused of plagiarism should have a real opportunity to hear the accusations explained to them fully and frankly, and to ensure that the panel have heard their responses. This is why the procedure includes attendance at a panel. The idea is not to create an intimidating experience, and the panel is not itself intended to be any kind of punishment, but to be a context for deliberation and communication. We therefore ask that the TEI invite any accused student to a panel, and that reasonable efforts be made to ensure that attendance is a realistic possibility for the student.
What are ‘reasonable efforts’? It is not reasonable to require staff to travel significant distances or to work outside their normal hours.
What about virtual panels? Attendance at the meeting (by the student and/or by members of the panel) may be virtual, but it is not a requirement that the TEI facilitate this. A TEI might well offer the opportunity for one person to be present via video conferencing. It should not be assumed, however, that multiple people could be present in this way, nor that the student will have easy access to the relevant technology.
Non-attendance. We also recognize that students may sometimes be unable to attend, or that they may not wish to. Provided that the chair of the panel, taking into account the nature of the allegations, is willing to give permission, we are happy for the requirement to attend to be waived. We anticipate that this permission will normally be granted if the alleged plagiarism would be a first offence and constitutes only a very small part of the assignment, and that it may at the discretion of the chair also be granted in other circumstances. In cases where the student does not attend, she or he may choose to send in a written response, or (if there is someone willing and able to take on this role) to be represented at the meeting by a member of staff – i.e., someone who is not a member of the panel, who has had a chance to discuss the situation with the student, and who can fairly represent the student’s claims to the panel.