Codes of Practice
Codes of Practice
Academic Progress: A Code of Good Practice
The following Code of Good Practice is intended to assist students and staff in matters of academic progress.
(1) Academic Progress
(a) If a student engaged in full or part-time study (excluding those registered on a Continuation Fee basis) is absent from courses of instruction, or fails to meet his/her academic commitments(defined in accordance with General Regulation V), the staff concerned should seek to contact the student as soon as they consider appropriate. A departmental warning may avoid the necessity to issue an Academic Progress Notice under General Regulation V.
(b) If there is concern about any aspect of a student's attendance or work, the Departments and College concerned should keep each other informed of action required or taken.
(c) Careful records must be kept of all communications with students arising from concern about their academic progress. Copies of formal communications must be sent to the relevant College.
(d) A request to issue an Academic Progress Notice under General Regulation V should be made when a student's performance does not improve after a departmental warning.
(2) Monitoring Academic Progress
(a) At the start of a programme, and at the start of each new level of a programme,Departments should inform students of theextent to which examination performance,course work, subsidiary subjects and other academic requirements will be taken into account when students' results are being assessed and/or degrees are awarded.
(b) Departments should explain their system of marking and correcting course and class work, and should indicate any differences between the marking of tutorial work and of examinations.
(c) Students should be issued with guidelines on the writing of course work (eg to avoid charges of plagiarism).
(d) Departments should explain to students the requirements for demonstrating academic progress in relation to their particular programme and modules. Reference should be made to the records that are kept of a student's attendance and work.
(e) Students should be told to report special factors and circumstances affecting their academic performance to members of staff in the Department concerned.
(3) Examinations and Assessment
Every Department should inform students of the procedures that will be used by its Board of Examiners. This information should include:
(a) the contribution of each piece of assessed work to the outcome of each module, and their degree programme as a whole.
(b) the regulations that will be applied by the Board of Examiners in making decisions about progression within a programme of study; whether to make an award; and the classification of award to be made.
Refer to General Regulation VII Academic Appeals.
Common Rooms: A Code of Practice
The 1994 ("the Act") Education Act requires governing bodies of universities to take such steps as are reasonably practicable to secure that any students' union operates in a fair and democratic manner and is accountable for its finances. The Act requires universities to prepare and issue a Code of Practice setting out the manner in which the requirements of the Act will be effected and in relation to each of the requirements details of the arrangements made to secure its observance.
This Code has been prepared to satisfy this requirement. It has been issued on the authority of University Council which, as the University's governing body is ultimately responsible for implementing and monitoring adherence to the Code.
University Council has agreed that the College Councils in the Maintained Colleges* are responsible for implementing and monitoring, on behalf of University Council, the requirements of the Act, as set down in this Code, in respect of the Common Room(s) of their College. College Councils are required to report annually to University Council on their discharge of these responsibilities.
For the purposes of this Code, Common Rooms are defined as College Graduate, Middle or Junior Common Rooms. The Code applies to all Common Rooms which have not elected to opt into the Durham Student Organisation (DSO) Framework and recorded as so doing by the University Council as set out here.
The Common Rooms have been exempt charities, deriving their charitable status from the University. As a result of the operation of the Charities Act 2006, the Common Rooms are losing this status and are required either to opt in to the DSO Framework or to register separately with the Charity Commission as a registered charity, if their income is over £100k, or are excepted charities if their income is less than £100k.
Those Common Rooms that register as charities are subject to a number of restrictions most notably that the charity must only operate in accordance with its charitable objects and powers as stated within its constitution. These Common Rooms may be unincorporated associations with no separate legal identity or may decide to incorporate as a company limited by guarantee (CLG), or as a charitable incorporated organisation (CIO). They act through their Boards of Trustees which is ultimately responsible for the actions of the Common Room. Further information about these restrictions is available on the Charity Commission website or by application to the President of the relevant Common Room.
The obligations of the College Council and the Common Room under the Act are set out below.
Note: The University is responsible under English and European Law for taking such steps as are reasonably practicable to ensure that freedom of expression within the law is secured for members, students and employees of the University and for visiting speakers. The University's Code of Practice on freedom of expression in relation to meetings or other activities on University premises . *In the Recognised Colleges the governing body is responsible for implementing and monitoring the legislation for a Common Room of that College.
Requirement of Section 22 (2) of the Act
(a) The union should have a written constitution
All Common Rooms must have a written constitution. The College Council is responsible for approving the provisions of the Common Room constitution. References in this Code of Practice to Constitution shall also include any subsequent constitutions adopted by the Common Room and which are approved by the University in accordance with this Code. Detailed procedures to effect the provisions of the Act (i.e. election regulations, opt out process, allocation of resources to societies, affiliations, complaints procedure) shall normally be set out in the Common Room Standing Orders or Byelaws and shall be approved by the College Council which shall also approve any changes to these procedures.
(b) The provisions of the constitution should be subject to the approval of the governing body and to review by that body at intervals of not more than five years
See above. The Constitution shall be reviewed by the College Council at intervals of not more than 5 years. No change to the Constitution proposed either during a 5 year review or at any other time shall be effective unless and until approved by the College Council.
(c) A student should have the right not to be a member of the union, or in the case of a representative body which is not an association, to signify that he does not wish to be represented by it, and students who exercise that right should not be unfairly disadvantaged, with regard to the provision of services of otherwise, by reason of their having done so.
A student should have the right to opt out of membership of the Common Room and should not, as a result of the exercise of that right, be unfairly disadvantaged in relation to the provision of services or otherwise. The College Council shall take appropriate steps to ensure that a system of opt out is in place and students who opt out are not unfairly disadvantaged.
(d) Appointment to major union offices should be by election in a secret ballot in which all members are entitled to vote
Appointment to major Common Room Offices shall be by election in a secret ballot in which all members are entitled to vote.
(e) The governing body should satisfy themselves that the elections are fairly and properly conducted.
The procedures for the conduct of elections shall be set down in the Common Room Election Regulations, which shall be approved by the College Council, and shall include a complaints process by which a student who has reason to believe that an election has not been fairly and properly conducted may bring the matter to the attention of the relevant authorities. The College Council shall satisfy itself that the elections are fairly and properly conducted.
(f) A person should not hold sabbatical office, or paid elected union office, for more than two years in total at the establishment.
This restriction shall be set out in the Constitution of the Common Room. The Colleges Office shall provide the University Secretary with a list of all Common Room sabbatical officers on an annual basis. The University Secretary shall maintain a list of sabbatical officers in the University Calendar.
(g) The financial affairs of the union should be properly conducted, and appropriate arrangements should exist for the approval of the union's budget, and the monitoring of its expenditure, by the governing body.
The terms and conditions for the payment of University funds to the Common Room, and approval of the Common Room budget and the monitoring of the Common Room's expenditure by the College Council, are set down in the Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) between the University and the Trustees of the Common Room and in the Funding Agreement attached as an appendix to that Memorandum.
(h) Financial reports of the union should be published annually or more frequently, and should be made available to the governing body and to all students, and each such report should contain, in particular, a list of the external organisations to which the union has made donations in the period to which the report relates, and details of those donations.
Financial reports of the Common Room shall be published at least annually or more frequently as directed by the University and should be made available to the College Council and to all students of the College. The report shall contain a list of the external organisations to which the Common Room has made donations and details of those donations.
(i) The procedure for allocating resources to groups or clubs should be fair, and should be set down in writing and freely accessible to all students
The College Council shall be responsible for ensuring that a fair procedure for allocating resources to groups or clubs is in place in writing and is freely accessible to students of the College.
(j) If the union decides to affiliate to an external organisation, it should publish notice of its decision, stating the name of the organisation, and details of any subscription or similar fee paid or proposed to be paid, and of any donation made or proposed to be made, to the organisation, and any such notice should be made available to the governing body and to all students.
Any decision by the Common Room to affiliate to an external organisation shall be published and the notice of the decision made available to the College Council and to all students of the College. (The notice should include the name of the organisation and details of any subscription and/or donation to the organisation.) A list of the organisations to which the Common Room is affiliated shall be published annually together with details of subscriptions and donations. The report shall be made available to students of the College and to the College Council. Common Rooms are required to have procedures in place as set out in the Act for the review of affiliations to external organisations and the College Council shall be responsible for satisfying itself that such procedures are in place.
(k) Where the union is affiliated to any external organisations, a report should be published annually or more frequently, containing a list of the external organisations to which the union is currently affiliated, and details of subscriptions or similar fees paid, or donations made, to such organisations in the past year or since the last report, and such reports should be made available to the governing body and to all students.
(l) There should be procedures for the review of affiliations to external organisations, under which the current list of affiliations is submitted for approval by members annually or more frequently, and at such intervals of not more than a year as the governing body may determine, a requisition may be made by such proportion of members (not exceeding 5%) as the governing body may determine, that the question of continued affiliation to any particular organisation be decided upon by a secret ballot in which all members are entitled to vote.
(m) There should be a complaints procedure available to all students or groups of students who are dissatisfied in their dealings with the union, or claim to be unfairly disadvantaged by reason of their having exercised the right referred to in paragraph (c) above, which should include provision for an independent person appointed by the governing body to investigate and report on complaints.
The College Council shall ensure that a complaints procedure as required by the Act is in place, including the requirement that it provide for an independent person appointed by the College Council to investigate and report on complaints. The College Council shall take steps to ensure the requirements of the Act are observed, for example, by receiving from the Common Room an annual report on any complaints received.
(n) Complaints should be dealt with promptly and fairly and where a complaint is upheld there should be an effective remedy.
Section 22 (4) (a) Information for Students
Under section 22(4)(a) of the Education Act 1994, the University is obliged to draw this Code to the attention of all students at least once a year
The University shall make the Code available on the University's website and ensure that it is referred to in the University student induction material. The Common Room President shall bring the Code to the attention of all students of the College at the start of the academic year and shall verify to the Principal of the College that this has been done.
Section 22 (4) (b) - Information for Students
Under section 22(4)(b) of the Education Act 1994, the University is obliged to draw to the attention of students at least once a year the restrictions imposed on the activities of the Common Room by the law relating to charities.
See above. Any resources provided to a Common Room through the University should be used only for the charitable purposes as defined in their approved Constitution.
Complaint Procedure for Students
(1) The University aims to provide a high standard and quality of service in respect of its programmes of study, services and facilities but recognises that occasionally things may go wrong. As part of its commitment to enhancing the student experience, this procedure has been established to deal with complaints from students in a fair and transparent manner. The University recognises that complaints may provide useful feedback from students and, where appropriate, will be used to improve services and facilities.
(2) These procedures explain how students may make a complaint, both informal and formal. Students who have a complaint to make should raise it as soon as possible with the member of staff concerned, as matters that are dealt with informally at an early stage have the best chance of being resolved effectively. Only when the informal procedures have been exhausted and the student remains dissatisfied should a formal complaint be made. The University provides advice and guidance to students on how to raise matters informally and formally at: www.durham.ac.uk/academicsupport.office/appeals/
It is recognised however that there may be occasions where the student may consider that an informal complaint is not appropriate and wishes to proceed to the formal stage in the procedure, giving their reasons for doing so. In such situations, the University, taking account of the complaint’s particular nature and circumstances, will consider whether an attempt to resolve the complaint informally is appropriate or allow the complaint to be investigated formally.
In respect of particularly serious complaints, the student may write directly to the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Education) without having followed the informal or formal stages of this procedure set out below. In such cases the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Education) shall decide whether or not to initiate his or her own investigation into the complaint, nominate another member of staff on their behalf or whether it should more appropriately be referred to an earlier stage in the procedure.
(3) Students seeking help in using this procedure should seek advice from any of the following:
(a) the appropriate College Student Support Office;
(b) appropriate academic staff (as set out in the Departmental handbook);
(c) the Academic Support Office;
(d) the Students' Union (advocacy as well as procedural support).
(4) Complaints should be brought forward by students as soon as possible after the events or actions (or lack of actions) which have prompted the complaint. The University will not consider complaints that are made more than 28 days after the events complained about unless the student provides evidence of an exceptional reason for the delay.
(5) In order to ensure that complaints are considered in an appropriate manner and time lines are adhered to, students are expected to provide a concise and clear summary of their complaint, their desired outcomes and any relevant additional information to support their complaint at the time it is submitted to the University. Only in exceptional circumstances will the University accept additional supporting information from the student once the investigation has started save for new information which was not previously available.
(6) Students should make clear, and the University will seek to identify, complaints which may require swift action or be stayed based on the particular nature of the complaint or impact upon staff and students involved. In such cases, the students and staff may be advised to seek support available within the University or external services.
(7) The University expects students (as the person best able to communicate any issues of dissatisfaction or adverse effects) to raise matters of complaint with the University and will only accept complaints raised by third parties on a student’s behalf in exceptional cases. In any meeting with University staff under this policy, students have the right to be accompanied by a current member of the University community or a Students’ Union representative.
(8) The University does not permit legal representation at meetings to investigate a complaint. The University does not consider it necessary for students to seek independent legal advice in respect of their complaint. It is entirely at their discretion and cost if they wish to do so.
(9) The University reserves the right to refuse to investigate or suspend any investigation underway where it becomes aware that legal, court or tribunal proceedings have been initiated in relation to the issues raised in the complaint.
(10) Every reasonable effort will be made to deal promptly and efficiently with all complaints, to investigate them thoroughly, objectively and independently and to seek to resolve them satisfactorily. If a complaint is upheld, the University will seek to provide an appropriate response and correct any mistakes or misunderstandings and take any other action as appropriate. If a complaint is not upheld then reasons for that decision will be given.
(11) All complaints will be dealt with in confidence. The University will however need to make enquiries to investigate the matters complained about. An individual (or individuals) against whom a complaint is made has the right to be supplied with a copy of the complaint and to comment on it. A complaint cannot be investigated if the student does not wish the substance of the allegation to be made known to the individual concerned. If an investigation is undertaken, the investigating officer may also need to speak to other relevant third parties. All individuals involved in an investigation will be reminded of the requirement to keep the matter confidential.
(12) The effectiveness of any complaints procedure depends on the University being able to collect appropriate information from the parties involved in order to investigate the matter. Information about a complaint will only be circulated to appropriate staff on a need-to-know basis. The University expects students to keep information relating to the complaint confidential except to those people directly advising or supporting them. No information is disclosed to anyone outside the University (save for material witnesses), including the student’s family and key influencers, without the express permission of the student or as required by law. Records of the processing of formal complaints will be held centrally and retained in accordance with University records keeping policies.
(13) For the reasons outlined in paragraphs 11 and 12, the University will not investigate anonymous complaints formally under this procedure. The University will respond to anonymous complaints on a case-by-case basis. Members of staff who receive anonymous complaints should consult with the Assistant Registrar (Student Complaints and Appeals) in the first instance.
(14) The University will treat complaints seriously and will deal with them without disadvantage or recrimination unless misconduct by the student is uncovered in the course of investigating the complaint.
(15) In all cases considered under this procedure, the balance of probabilities is the test that is applied in determining the outcome of the complaint.
(16) An investigation will deal with the main issues of complaint identified by the student but it is not expected that the investigator’s findings will be able to address in detail all matters raised.
(17) Where a complaint is shown to be frivolous, vexatious or motivated by malice, it will not be investigated and disciplinary action may be taken against the student in accordance with the “Code of Practice on Student Behaviour in Appeals and Complaints.”
(18) The University recognises that students raising complaints and members of staff who are the subject of a complaint may require support during an investigation. For this reason, the University has services available to provide advice, guidance and support to all parties involved in a complaint and will attempt to resolve complaints informally wherever appropriate. For more information about support available please see: www.durham.ac.uk/academicsupport.office/appeals/
(19) The time limits set out in this procedure will be followed as it is in the best interests of the student, staff and the University to investigate and conclude matters of complaint as quickly as possible. However, where, for good reason, the University is unable to keep to the normal time limits, all parties will be kept regularly informed of progress and should inform the University where they do not consider extension to timelines reasonable. All parties are expected to comply with reasonable deadlines set by the University and advise the University about any difficulties they may face during investigation. Any delays by one party may impact on other time lines within this process.
Scope of the Procedure
(20) This Procedure is designed to encompass the following:
(a) complaints from students concerning their experience related to an Academic Department, College, Finance or Professional Support Service;
(b) complaints from students concerning the adequacy of supervision, the arrangements for teaching or the arrangements for summative assessments.
(21) This procedure does not cover the following, for which separate procedures exist (and are noted):
(a) appeals relating to Board of Examiners or other relevant committee or officer decisions relating to examinations, assessments, or academic progress or against expulsion or exclusion on academic grounds including Academic Progress Notice decisions (Academic Appeals procedure);
(b) complaints involving an allegation of misconduct by a student (Student Discipline procedure);
(c) complaints involving an allegation of harassment (Respect at Study policy);
(d) complaints involving an allegation of sexual violence (Sexual Violence and Misconduct Policy);
(e) complaints about admissions decisions (Admissions Regulations).
Information about the separate procedures can be obtained from the Students' Union or the Academic Support Office.
(22) In cases where a student raises matters informally or formally which may apply to the complaint procedure and another procedure simultaneously, the University will write to the student to inform them of the appropriate process, processes or order of processes which will be used for consideration of the matters they raised. Students are not permitted to initiate more than one formal procedure simultaneously for the same or related matters.
(23) This procedure is only available for currently registered students or students who have left the University within 28 days. Students on programmes validated by Durham University have the right to request a review (Stage 3) under this procedure provided that they have first completed the informal and formal complaints procedures of their home institution.
(24) Complaints by a group of students are often of a general nature and it is appropriate for the students to raise the matter with a module or course representative or a student representative on a relevant Academic Department Committee (e.g. Staff/Student Consultative Committee) in the first instance. A formal complaint may then be made by a group of students if the relevant representation system has not achieved a satisfactory outcome, or this is not appropriate in the circumstances. In these cases the group of students will be required to nominate a principal representative from the group to act on their behalf.
(25) Complaints provide important evidence about how effectively the University’s student procedures have operated in practice and can serve to identify trends or areas of concern expressed by students. The University therefore reports on complaints in several ways including principally an annual report to Senate containing anonymised analysis of formal complaints including a breakdown by gender, age, ethnicity and disability based on information supplied at registration. Where appropriate University reports will contain recommendations for improving practice in the University and the appropriate process or sequence of processes to follow.
Informal Stage (Stage 1)
(26) The University is committed to resolving matters of student dissatisfaction informally as this enables a prompt investigation and resolution to the mutual agreement of all parties. The University believes that most matters of student dissatisfaction can be resolved informally and students should raise these matters as close and soon as possible to the source of their dissatisfaction. Students should, therefore, initially discuss the matter with those directly responsible.
(27) The list below highlights those members of staff who may be approached by the student to seek an informal resolution:
- Complaints relating to an academic department should be discussed with an appropriate member of academic staff (as set out in the departmental handbook).
- Complaints relating to a College should be discussed with a member of the College’s Student Support Office.
- Complaints about one of the University's administrative or support services should be discussed with the head of that service.
In cases where it is not appropriate to approach the person directly responsible students should approach another appropriate staff member from their academic department or college or contact the Students' Union for support. In exceptional cases, the University may allow a student to proceed directly to Stage 2 of this procedure.
Please also see www.durham.ac.uk/academicsupport.office/appeals/ for more information about help and support for informal complaint resolution.
(28) Student complaints about the adequacy of undergraduate, postgraduate taught or postgraduate research supervision or the arrangements for teaching and assessment must be made as soon as possible and prior to the submission of assessed work or the publication of results. Students should discuss their complaints with their academic advisor or supervisor or the member of staff responsible for the course. If this discussion does not informally resolve their concerns, then the student should raise this with the academic department head (or their appointed nominee), before proceeding to the formal stage of this procedure.
(29) Staff handling matters at the informal stage should, if possible, have a face-to-face discussion with the student concerned, in order to understand the nature of the student's dissatisfaction and to explore what outcome the student seeks.
(30) Staff handling student complaints should consider whether cases are appropriate for referral to the University’s Mediation Service. Mediation can assist parties in dispute to resolve difficulties that they are having. It is a confidential and voluntary process in which impartial mediators facilitate communication, with a focus on solutions. Mediation can be used at any stage of the complaints procedure and any informal or formal complaint process would be stayed whilst mediation is ongoing. If mediation is not successful students are able to resume informal or formal complaints procedures.
(31) Wherever possible, student complaints should be resolved at this local level, without the need to resort to formal proceedings. Where appropriate, staff should record the resolution reached and, as necessary, confirm the resolution in writing with the student for both parties to refer to later if further issues arise. Students may request that they be notified of the resolution in writing. It may also be appropriate to inform the student of Stage 2 of this procedure. Where it is not possible to reach a satisfactory resolution to an informal complaint the student should be informed of their right to submit a formal Stage 2 complaint.
Formal Stage (Stage 2)
(32) If the student is not satisfied with the response at the informal stage or did not consider informal resolution to be appropriate in their circumstances, he or she may initiate a formal complaint by completing all sections of the Complaints Form within 28 days of the events complained about or following the conclusion of the informal complaint process (Stage 1).
(33) In order that the University is able to investigate complaints in a timely, fair and transparent manner, the information provided by the student must be clear and concise. To facilitate this, the University has a Complaint Form where student should provide:
(a) A short (500 word or fewer) statement describing the main issues to be addressed or areas of dissatisfaction. This is the most critical section of the complaint form as any investigation will focus on the main issues raised here;
(b) A statement detailing actions already taken by the student to resolve the matter informally and why the response provided was considered unsatisfactory or reasons why informal action was not considered appropriate in the circumstances;
(c) The form of resolution or redress sought by the student in relation to the main issues. Students should seek advice regarding what forms of resolution or redress may be appropriate in the circumstances. The University will attempt to inform students in cases where the student does not provide appropriate forms of resolution or redress.
(d) If necessary and as briefly as possible, additional related background or contextual details or descriptions of incidents and events raised as the main issues and their impact on the student. Any details or descriptions provided should directly relate to the main issues. Students should not expect that any details and descriptions provided here will be directly responded to;
(e) A list and copies of any documents or information provided in support of the main issues of the complaint. In some cases the University may request to see original documents.
(34) The Complaint Form should be signed and submitted electronically or in paper form to the address listed on the form together with any supporting information. The Academic Support Office will acknowledge receipt of the Complaint Form within seven days.
(35) Upon receipt of a Complaint form, the Assistant Registrar (Student Complaints and Appeals) will conduct an initial review of the main issues raised in the complaint to determine, in consultation with appropriate staff as necessary, whether immediate or alternative action is required in the circumstances prior to potentially proceeding with a formal investigation. The student will be informed of any immediate or alternative actions and the effect upon the complaint process.
(36) The University shall maintain a pool of trained complaint investigators who will be senior members of staff from Colleges, Academic Departments, Finance and Professional Support Services whose appointment will be approved by the responsible University Executive Committee (UEC) representative. Where no pool member is eligible or available to act in respect of an individual complaint the Vice-Chancellor and Warden or appropriate member of UEC shall designate a senior member of the University to serve for that particular case. Pool members will be appropriately trained in order to conduct investigations in accordance with Stage 2 and Stage 3 of this procedure.
(37) The Assistant Registrar (Student Complaints and Appeals) will identify an appropriate member of the pool to investigate the complaint (investigator). The investigator must be independent of the source of the complaint and not investigate a case in which any potential conflict of interest might arise. Pool members should avoid becoming involved in the informal stage of complaints as it may affect their ability to be involved as an investigator.
(38) The investigator will gather information and attempt resolution of the complaint by means appropriate to its nature and circumstance. Such means may include:
(a) meetings or written correspondence between the parties;
(b) negotiation with the student or with appropriate members of staff or with both;
(c) facilitation of a conciliation meeting between the student and staff concerned;
(d) or, if both parties agree, referral for mediation.
(39) If the investigator decides to investigate the complaint via correspondence then the student bringing forward the complaint shall be sent a copy of any response or additional information obtained by the investigator and will be invited to submit a response prior to the investigator reaching a decision in relation to the complaint.
(40) In any case where the investigator meets with the parties to a complaint they are permitted to be accompanied by a member of the University community or a representative from the Students' Union.
(41) The investigator may determine that it is necessary to hold a hearing to consider information already submitted in relation to the complaint and to collect additional oral evidence. In these cases, two additional pool members will be identified by the Assistant Registrar (Student Complaints and Appeals) to form a Panel for the hearing. All parties involved with the complaint will be invited to attend the hearing and provided with all relevant information seven days in advance. All parties are permitted to be accompanied at any hearing by a member of the University community, employee Trade Union, or a representative from the Students' Union. The Panel members will then consider the complaint in light of all evidence submitted and reach their decision.
(42) It is expected that the formal procedure should be completed and a written report sent to the student that sets out the reasons for the decision within 42 days of receipt of the completed Complaints Form. The possible outcomes include:
(a) A resolution, reached in co-operation with the Department/School, College or Support Service provider, or following mediation if appropriate;
(b) The complaint is upheld in relation to one or more of the main issues specified by the student. Recommendations will be communicated to the relevant decision making body within the University on how those upheld main issues should be addressed noting the resolutions or redress specified by the student. The student will be informed of the appropriate process, any actions they may need to take and the timescales for implementing any remedy;
(c) The complaint is dismissed in relation to all the main issues specified by the student and reasons are given to the student in writing.
(43) In all cases where the student remains dissatisfied with the outcome, they will be informed of their right to request a review of the decision under Stage 3 of this procedure, the timescales for doing so and the grounds on which they may request a review. Where the University does not receive additional enquiries or requests from the student within the applicable timescales it will consider the matter closed and the student will not be permitted to progress their complaint to Stage 3.
(44) A copy of the letter to the student informing them of the outcome of their complaint and all information relevant to the decision of the investigator will be kept in the Academic Support Office.
Review Request (Stage 3)
(45) If the student remains dissatisfied with the outcome of the Stage 2 complaint and believes that the complaint has not been handled properly or fairly according to these procedures, the student may request for a review by writing to the Academic Registrar within 14 days of receipt of the Stage 2 outcome. The request must state the grounds for requesting a review and include details of the resolution they are seeking.
(46) The grounds for review of a Stage 2 complaint outcome are limited to the identification of a procedural irregularity during Stage 2, provision of new material evidence together with a valid reason for why it was not previously submitted and consideration of whether the outcome reached was reasonable in all the circumstances.
(47) Receipt of the request for a review will be acknowledged within seven days. A pool member (reviewer) with no previous involvement in the complaint will review the case in light of the review request submitted by the student and all the information considered by the investigator in reaching an outcome at Stage 2. The reviewer may decide to seek further information from the student and/or others concerned or to inform the student of any limitations on the scope of a review.
(48) Taking account of the substance of the review request and the outcome of Stage 2, the reviewer will then decide on an appropriate outcome. The student will be notified of the reviewer's decision within 28 days of receipt of the request for a review and provided with a report that clearly sets out the reasons for each decision.
(49) If the reviewer upholds one or more aspects of the review request the student will be provided with information about implementation of any remedy which may include a new investigation of the complaint at Stage 2 by a pool member not previously involved. The student may request a completion of procedures letter.
(50) If the reviewer dismisses the complaint there shall be no further opportunity for the complaint to be pursued within the University. The student will be provided with a completion of procedures letter, informed of their right to submit a complaint to the OIA and the time limit for doing so.
Office of the Independent Adjudicator
(51) The University's internal procedures are exhausted once a student is informed of the outcome of his or her request for a review (Stage 3) under these procedures. Students may complain to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA)im accordance with their prodedures. Information about the OIA and the procedure for submitting complaints can be obtained from the Academic Support Office, the Students' Union website or from the OIA website: www.oiahe.org.uk.
Controlled Drugs: A Code of Practice
The purpose of this code is to ensure that students are aware of the law with regard to the supply, use and possession by students of controlled drugs, with the overall objective of minimising the harmful effects of these substances.
(1) The University does not allow, in any way, the use of controlled drugs. The possession of controlled drugs is a criminal offence and the possession with intent to supply is a more serious offence. The University would break the law if it permitted controlled drugs to be used or supplied on its property.
(2) The University will not tolerate the use of, or dealing in, controlled drugs on its property. Any students found to be using or in possession of any controlled drug, including cannabis, on University premises will be subject to its disciplinary procedures and the police will be informed.
(3) The University will inform the police of any student suspected of dealing in drugs. We also reserve the right to inform the police about students found to be using or in possession of drugs.
University Disciplinary Procedures2
The University's disciplinary procedures are set out under Section IV of the General Regulations. Major offences include:
- Serious instances of disorderly conduct causing serious damage to or on University property or premises or seriously affecting good order within or without the University;
- Conduct which brings the University into serious disrepute, by causing serious reputational damage;
- Possession of controlled drugs;
- Offences against the Criminal Law.
A major offence may be punished by rustication (exclusion from the University for one year) or expulsion from the University3.
The University cannot and will not condone any controlled activity committed on University premises but it will endeavour to respond considerately to students who accept that they are having problems related to the use of controlled drugs, provided that the individual concerned co-operates with such treatment and care plans as may be developed for them by health care professionals or other appropriate agencies4.
1 Students and their Visitors affected by these issues are advised to review the advice issued by the National Health Service (NHS) and the Public Health England concerning the significant health effects of drug abuse. The NHS pages also outline the counselling and treatment options that are available, see:
2 Within the legal jurisdiction of “England and Wales”, the law regulating dangerous and otherwise harmful drugs is the “Misuse of Drugs Act 1971”
This legislation defines the concept of criminal offence that underpins the University’s obligation to make a report to the Police. The legal sanctions available to the State are outlined by the Home Office at www.gov.uk/penalties-drug-possession-dealing and all staff, students and visitors are advised that these may be enforced after conviction of drug abuse or selling.
3 Durham University is a collegiate university, with 16 colleges admitting students. If an incident of student misconduct involving illegal drugs arises that is not in violation of the law or a major offence under the University’s General Regulations, the college may apply its own regulations and disciplinary processes to the student member of the college. Please contact the Collegiate Office for further information on individual college regulations.
4 In addition the Durham University Counselling Service offers help and guidance and counselling on addictive behaviours, including for drug and alcohol abuse, both in terms of outlining the various counselling options (for example Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) and health risks. The Counselling Service also has participation agreements with local health providers to widen the range of services that students can access. Additionally the Counselling Service will work with individuals not-only on the actual substance abuse concerns, but also on the underlying motivators s that may have led to this abuse. A description of the services offered by the University Counselling can be found at: www.durham.ac.uk/counselling.service/other_help/community/addictions/
Durham Student's Union: A Code of Practice
Freedom of Expression in Relation to Meetings or Other Activities: A Code of Practice
This Code of Practice has been developed to assist staff and students who are involved in the organisation of activities that have the potential to compromise the University’s commitment to freedom of expression within the law and/or the health and safety of staff, students and visitors to the University. It sets out the University’s expectations and the processes to be followed to ensure that activities which are affiliated to, funded or branded as associated with Durham University that fall within the remit of this code of practice can be given due consideration to ensure that they do not contravene the University’s commitment in respect of freedom of expression and/or its obligations to ensure the health and safety of its community. The University’s duty to secure freedom of expression within the law extends to the Students’ Union premises and for this reason this Code of Practice applies to activities that take place there. This Code applies to activities affiliated to, funded or branded as associated with Durham University that take place both on and outside of University premises, including the land and precincts around the University. The University will seek to uphold its commitment to freedom of expression within the law, and will only impose conditions where legitimate concerns regarding the legality of the event and/or the safety of participants are justified.
The Code of Practice
(1) This Code of Practice applies to all staff and students who wish to host an activity that is affiliated to, funded/partially funded by, or branded as Durham University, to distribute written or on-line materials, or undertake any other activity which is covered by this Code.
(2) This Code of Practice is issued by, and with the authority of, the Council as governing body of the University with a view to taking all reasonable steps to ensure that freedom of expression within the law is secured for members, students and employees of the University and for visiting speakers. It aims to assist the University in discharging its duty under the Equality Act (2010), and in general to promote good relations within the University. It also enables the University to respond to the Prevent Duty detailed within Section 26(I) of the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015 which imposes on the University a legal duty to have due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism.
(3) The procedures set out below must be followed by students and staff of the University and persons hiring venues in the University in respect of meetings or any other similar activities. They cover the conduct required of all persons in connection with any such meetings or activities.
(4) Members, students and employees of the University who are planning activities off the University’s premises but which are clearly affiliated to, funded or branded as associated with the University and engage the provisions of this code, must familiarise themselves with the code and follow the requirements laid down within it.
(5) The Council authorises the Chief Operating Officer (hereafter referred to as the ‘’COO’’) to act on its behalf to ensure as far as is reasonably practicable that all staff and students of the University, and all visiting speakers, comply with the provisions of this Code. The COO may further delegate his/her authority in general or in particular instances to other members of staff of the University, and, in the absence of the COO, the University Secretary may act on his/her behalf.
(6) The COO is supported by the Deputy Academic Registrar in the administration of this Code of Practice. The Deputy Academic Registrar acts as a first point of contact for any member of the University community who may wish to be involved in an activity that engages the provisions of the code. The Deputy Academic Registrar can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone on 0191 334 6120. In the absence of the Deputy Academic Registrar, the Academic Registrar will fulfil this role.
Activities and Meetings Which Must be Notified to the Chief Operating Officer
(7) Any activity, including but not limited to holding a meeting or a demonstration, or distributing leaflets or other written or on-line material, which is likely to engage the provisions of this Code must be notified in writing to the COO at least 14 days before the activity is due to take place.
(8) In considering whether or not to permit an activity to go ahead, the COO, on behalf of the University, shall consider and take advice on the following matters:
(a) whether the views or ideas to be put forward (or the manner of their expression):
(i) discriminate against any individual or group (with a protected characteristic) on any of the grounds of discrimination provided in the Equality Act 2010. Formal requests for gender segregation at meetings (save for those solely used for religious worship or practice) is prohibited on these grounds in accordance with the Equality and Human Rights Commission guidance;
(ii) are to be presented by any person who has previously been prevented from delivering a speech at the University; or
(iii) incite hatred or are considered within the law to be obscene or grossly defamatory.
(b) whether the activity in question:
(i) constitutes a criminal offence;
(ii) constitutes a threat to public order or to the health and safety of individuals;
(iii) incites others to commit criminal acts;
(iv) incites others to hatred; or
(v) brings the possibility of disruption or disorder because of the timing or location of the activity and its coincidence with other local or national occasions or events.
(9) The second key test is whether adequate arrangements can be made to ensure the safety of participants in the activity, and other people within the vicinity, and to ensure that public order is maintained.
(10) The organisers of the activity shall ensure that a ‘Principal Organiser’ is appointed who must be a current member of staff or student of the University and who will be responsible for ensuring that the organisers comply with the obligations placed upon them under this Code of Practice. If the activity concerned involves a meeting or other type of gathering then the Principal Organiser and/or the person responsible for processing the booking of rooms or space are taken to have read and agreed by the provisions of this Code of Practice. The Principal Organiser shall ensure that appropriate information is provided on the booking form regarding the nature and topic of the meeting.
(11) The Principal Organiser is normally required to inform the COO as far as possible in advance and, in any case at least 14 days in advance of any activity which falls within the provisions of this Code. This will allow him/her to ensure that any necessary arrangements are made, where there are reasonable grounds to believe that:
(a) The activity may be disrupted (to the extent that public order is not maintained, or the safety of participants/others in the vicinity is not guaranteed) due to:
(i) The public profile of the speaker; or
(ii) The nature of any subjects to be discussed or contained in written material; or
(iii) The views or beliefs (whether or not related to the activity) of any person attending; or
(iv) The coincidence of the activity with another activity.
(b) The personal safety or property of any person attending, proceeding to or leaving the activity may be at risk by reason of their involvement in the activity; or
(c) Intimidation, duress or harassment might be applied to any person in an attempt to prevent their attending the activity.
Action to be Taken by the COO
(12) The Principal Organiser shall, on request, provide the COO with such information as he/she may require. The COO will request the completion of a Freedom of Expression booking form, a copy of which is attached to this Code as Appendix A where an activity falls within the remit of this Code. The COO will also seek advice from the Free Speech Group (membership details may be found at Appendix B) as to whether the activity can safely go ahead. The Group will be convened by the Academic Registrar/Deputy Academic Registrar and will make recommendations to the COO. Any advice received will be used by the COO to make a final decision, which will be communicated to the Principal Organiser, wherever possible, no later than a week before the planned activity.
(13) On receiving such information as he/she requires, the COO shall have the following options:
(a) Indicate that he/she is content for the activity to go ahead without taking any action; or
(b) Lay down such special conditions as he/she considers necessary for the holding of the activity; or
(c) Indicate that he/she does not consider it possible, within the resources reasonably available to the University, for the proposed meeting to take place within the law and in accordance with this Code. Therefore the activity is proscribed from taking place.
(14) The COO’s decision will be communicated to the Principal Organiser in writing no later than a week before the planned activity.
(15) Failure or refusal to observe the COO's ruling will result in disciplinary action as noted in paragraph 27 below.
Special Conditions or Arrangements that may be Required
(16) The COO may lay down such special conditions as he/she considers necessary. These may include (but are not limited to):
(a) a requirement that the activity be ticket only and/or a restriction on the numbers of people attending;
(b) that an adequate number of suitable stewards must be available, in addition to any University security staff that the COO may feel should be present to maintain good order;
(c) special arrangements for the chairing of a meeting, and as to the circumstances in which the meeting may or must be terminated prematurely;
(d) that the activity be restricted to staff and students of the University;
(e) imposing conditions on whether and how the activity is advertised;
(f) varying the time and location of the activity from the original request;
(g) refusing admission to media representatives.
(17) In addition, the COO has discretion to require any further and subsequent conditions, where appropriate, after consultation with the police for example, requiring the meeting or activity to be declared public (which would permit a police presence). Alternatively all security arrangements connected with the meeting or activity may be handled by the University’s Security and Resilience Manager (or delegate) who will deal with safety concerns for the occasion.
(18) The COO will normally require the organisers of the activity to meet any reasonable costs incurred as a result of any special conditions or arrangements required by the COO.
(19) If the COO permits an activity to go ahead in accordance with this Code, the Principal Organiser must immediately notify the COO of any material changes to an approved activity; for example if there was a change in the speakers who had been approved for a debate. Failure to disclose any material changes may be regarded as a major offence for students under the University’s Disciplinary Regulations, whilst staff may be subject to disciplinary action.
(20) The Principal Organiser should also share a copy of the Policy Statement and this Code of Practice with the speaker(s) concerned to ensure that the University’s position and protocols are clearly understood.
(21) The Principal Organiser must also inform the COO of any concerns relating to any activities which fall within the remit of this Code, and is required to report back following the completion of the activity, even if there is nothing of concern to report.
(22) Notwithstanding the provisions contained within this Code, where an activity takes place which generates concerns received by either the Deputy Academic Registrar or COO, the COO can request that a senior officer of the University should undertake a review of the activity in question, and bring a report on the findings to UEC.
Request for a Review
(23) If the Principal Organiser considers that the request to undertake an activity under the terms of the Code of Practice has not been handled in accordance with the practices of the Code they can request a review. They can do this by writing to the Vice-Chancellor within 14 days of receipt of the outcome of the decision in relation to the activity. The request must state the grounds for requesting a review.
(24) The Vice-Chancellor (or Deputy Vice-Chancellor & Provost in his/her absence) may seek any further information they require to reach a view on the request. If the review is upheld, the Vice-Chancellor will ensure that appropriate action is taken to remedy the situation and will inform the Principal Organiser in writing of the outcome. If the review is dismissed then the Principal Organiser will be informed in writing of this and there will be no further opportunity to pursue the matter within the University.
Arrangements for Booking Rooms and off campus activities
(25) Each Booking Authority shall introduce or modify booking forms in order that the attention of organisers of meetings or other activities is drawn to this Code. Each Booking Authority shall be responsible for ensuring that those who operate room bookings within their jurisdiction are aware of and fulfil their personal responsibilities under this Code.
Reporting and Infringements of the Code of Practice
(26) The University’s Executive Committee will receive a report annually on the number and type of activities considered in relation to this Code. The COO may recommend any changes to the Code at any time. Any substantive changes to the Code arising from the annual review will be reported to Council for consideration and approval.
(27) The COO shall report to Council the circumstances of any significant infringements of, and departures from, the provisions of this Code. Infringements of, or departures from, these procedures by staff and students, will render them liable to disciplinary action. If infringement is by a student they may be liable to disciplinary action and their actions may be regarded as a major offence under the University's Disciplinary Regulations. If infringement is by those hiring accommodation on University premises, there may be an immediate termination of the agreement to use the University premises.
(28) Where any infringement of the Code results in breaches of the law, the University will report these to the appropriate prosecuting authorities and assist the relevant authorities to implement the process of law.
The COO will request that the following form is completed in relation to those activities which fall within the scope of the Code, to help facilitate a judgement about whether or not an activity can go ahead in accordance with the Code of Practice.
Name and contact details of the Principal Organiser
Name and details of the activity requested in accordance with the code
Name and details of any visiting speakers – what organisation do they represent? Have they spoken at the University before or at another higher education institution?
Date, time and place of meeting or activity
Overview of the activity – for example the subject matter, appointed chairperson etc.
What topic will any external speakers be talking about?
How will the activity be advertised?
The numbers expected to attend (staff, students, members of the University, guests, general public)
Conditions applying to the activity (will it be ticketed? Open to the public?)
Do the organisers have any reason to believe that there may be a threat of disruption caused by the proposed meeting or activity and what is the substance of that threat?
Any other reason known to the Principal Organiser or others involved in organising the event as to why issues may arise with any external speaker(s).
Will members of the press, TV or radio be permitted to attend?
Is the activity being sponsored? If so, who by?
In reaching a decision about whether an activity can go ahead, the COO will receive recommendations from the Free Speech Group, which is made up of the following people:
- The Academic/Deputy Academic Registrar (convener)
- The Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Education)
- The Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Colleges and Student Experience)
- The Associate Provost
- The President of the Students’ Union (or his/her representative)
- A representative of Council
It is anticipated that input from the Group will, on most occasions, be sought by email although meetings may be called if the situation demands it.
The following individuals may also be consulted by the Free Speech Group in recognition of their particular areas of expertise:
- The Principal Organiser
- The Security and Resilience Manager
- The Equality and Diversity Officer
- The Head of Legal Services
- The Chair of the Safeguarding Operations Group
- The Chaplains
- The Director of Marketing and Communications
- Local Police
- The BIS Regional Prevent Co-ordinator
- Higher Education Institutions known to have hosted or refused activities previously
 Activities refer to events including, but not limited to, meetings, demonstrations, debates, marches etc.
 For clarity, activities which are affiliated to the University include those arranged by the Union Society, Common Rooms, Recognised Common Rooms in Maintained Colleges of the University, and the Students’ Union.
 EHRC (2014) Gender Segregation at Events and Meetings: Guidance for Universities and Students’ Unions (Available online at https://www.equalityhumanrights.com/en/publication-download/gender-segregation-events-and-meetings-guidance-universities-and-students)
 If the activity concerned involves the publication and/or distribution of written material that is likely to engage the provisions of this Code, then the ‘’Principal Organiser’’ shall be identified as either the author of the material and/or the person responsible for co-ordinating the dissemination of material on the University’s premises or via its electronic infrastructure.
 The University is under no legal obligation to allow meetings to be open to members of the public.
 A Booking Authority is responsible for accepting and monitoring bookings, for a specific room or multiple rooms in university premises. They include the Students’ Union, Event Durham, Maintained Colleges and Societies and their common rooms, Recognised Colleges and their common rooms, Academic Departments, Durham Union Society, Experience Durham and Student Planning and Assessment.
Notification of Misconduct to the Police and Intenal Action: A Code of Practice
(1) Any member of the University who has reasonable suspicion that a student may be involved in criminal conduct should bring the matter to the attention of the Academic Registrar or another Nominated Officer. This Code is designed to give guidance as to when misconduct should be reported to the Police and how the matter should be handled internally. Where reference to the Police is a matter of judgement, the Academic Registrar1 should be consulted.
It should be noted straightaway however, that:
(a) Double jeopardy does not arise if an alleged criminal offence is also considered as a possible breach of University Discipline regulations (because the Courts have determined that there is no parity between criminal law and a University disciplinary hearing).
(b) Allegations of serious criminal offences should be referred to the Police, because University discipline regulations cannot be used as an alternative to Police action.
(c) It may be necessary for a member of the University to notify the Police immediately where a potentially serious crime is in progress or the nature of an allegation of criminal misconduct (e.g. terrorism, threat to vital interests of a member of the University or wider community, repeated or risk of further criminal activities) requires immediate Police intervention.
(d) The University would not normally report an allegation of a crime against the wishes of a victim. However in exceptional circumstances, the University reserves the right to refer serious criminal allegations to the Police against the wishes of the victim, where it believes that the health, safety or security of the victim, members of the University community or the wider community are at risk.
(e) The code covers behaviour or actions which may constitute misconduct in relation to hate crimes against members of the University community.
(2) Where the alleged offence is not a serious criminal offence and the Police would be unlikely to act (eg slight damage to University property or resources, minor assault or a scuffle) the matter should be dealt with internally by an Authorised University Officer under disciplinary procedures. If, however, someone, eg an aggrieved student, has already reported the matter to the Police, University discipline procedures would normally wait until the Police had concluded their investigation.
(3) Where the alleged offence is a serious criminal offence and the Police would be likely to act (eg supplying controlled drugs, allegations of rape or sexual assault2, other serious offence against the person, theft of significant sums) the following process should take place:
(a) Offence on University property: to be reported by the Authorised University Officer to the Academic Registrar for guidance on appropriate steps to take.
(b) Offence taking place during a University activity off-campus, e.g. fieldwork: The member of staff leading the fieldwork reports to their Head of Department for guidance on the appropriate steps to take. The Academic Registrar1 to be notified as soon as possible.
(c) Offence taking place away from the University and/or not involving a University student or member of staff: person notifying the University of the offence should be advised to report the matter to the Police and the Academic Registrar1 should be notified.
(4) The Academic Registrar1 will then consult the Chair or Deputy Chair of Senate Discipline Committee and decide:
(a) whether the offence potentially falls within the University Discipline Regulations and hence whether internal discipline procedures should be started. If started they would normally be adjourned pending the outcome of the Police investigation. However, the fact that criminal proceedings have not concluded does not always preclude the University from taking its own disciplinary action, particularly in relation to allegations of minor criminal offences. Similarly, if the Police are unable or unwilling to proceed with the alleged offence, this also does not always preclude the University from taking disciplinary action.
(b) whether suspension should be considered pending completion of the Police investigation. It should be remembered that suspension is not a sanction. It is a temporary measure to facilitate an investigation to proceed or to protect students and other members of the University whilst the criminal proceedings continue. Alternatives to suspension should therefore be considered where appropriate.
(c) whether measures identified are reasonable and proportionate to the incident under investigation.
1or other Nominated Officer
2 Please also refer to the University’s Sexual Violence and Misconduct Policy in Volume 1 of the University Calendar
Respect at Study Policy and Code of Practice and Procedures for Students to make a Complaint about Harassment
All students have the right to study in an environment which is free from harassment and bullying. This policy (‘’the Policy’’) has been written to support the development of a learning environment in which harassment and bullying are known to be unacceptable and where individual students have the confidence to complain, without fear of reprisal or recrimination, in the knowledge that their concerns will be dealt with seriously, appropriately and fairly.
More specifically, the objectives of the Policy are to:
- Enable students to identify and understand what harassment and bullying is.
- Prevent and reduce incidents of harassment and bullying.
- Resolve most incidents and complaints informally.
- Provide a framework for handling complaints of harassment or bullying; and
- Ensure all incidents are dealt with in a consistent, fair and appropriate manner.
Durham University’s Commitment
Durham University is fully committed to the development of policies and procedures to eliminate discrimination and actively promote equality of opportunity for our students. The University believes that where respect for diversity and equality of opportunity exists, all students work in a more rewarding and less stressful environment; one where discrimination, prejudice and harassment are not accepted, and one more likely to enhance performance and achievement, allowing all members of our University community to fully demonstrate and use their skills and talents and achieve their full potential.
Allegations of harassment and bullying will be treated very seriously by the University and may result in disciplinary action being taken against the perpetrator. As the University views harassment and bullying as a serious offence, any individual who makes a vexatious, demonstrably false or malicious claim of harassment or bullying, will be dealt with in accordance with the University’s Code of Practice on Student Behaviour in Appeals and Complaints and may be subject to disciplinary procedures as specified in General Regulations IV – Discipline.
As part of its commitment to eliminating harassment and bullying, the University undertakes to:
- Apply the Policy equally to all students registered at the University;
- Ensure an initial acknowledgement to any complaint is issued to the complainant normally within 7 days of the complaint being received and to keep all parties informed of the progress of the complaint;
- Treat all allegations of harassment or bullying seriously, fairly, sensitively, promptly and with appropriate regard to confidentially;
- Publicise this Policy as widely as possible in order to ensure that students are aware of its existence.
- Provide Harassment Contacts in all academic departments and colleges of the University who will be available to advise and assist students. (Details of Contacts are available at www.durham.ac.uk/diversity.equality/contact/); and
- Monitor the effectiveness of the Policy.
Roles and Responsibilities
It is the responsibility of every member of our University community to help us achieve an inclusive and supportive environment, and to promote good relations between groups by being tolerant and having respect for diversity.
All students have a personal responsibility to behave in a way that is not offensive to others and to acknowledge that views and opinions held by others may not always coincide with their own. Such differences of opinion are unlikely to constitute harassment.
Where possible, students should discourage harassment and bullying by making it clear that they find such behaviour unacceptable.
Each student must comply with this Policy and any other University Codes of Conduct, including future codes. Students are responsible for ensuring that their behaviour could not reasonably be considered to constitute bullying or harassment of any individual or group.
Issues of harassment and/or bullying should be raised promptly and in a timely manner in order that any required action or investigation of such issues can be carried out at the earliest opportunity.
What is Harassment and Bullying?
Harassment is unwanted conduct which causes an individual to experience alarm or distress. It may be making discriminatory or offensive statements or behaviour relating to an individual’s (actual or perceived) age, sex, race, ethnic or national origin, disability, religion or belief, sexual orientation, gender reassignment, or any other personal characteristic of an individual. It may be persistent behaviour or a single isolated incident. The key is that the actions or comments could reasonably be viewed as being hostile or intimidating, demeaning and unacceptable to the individual, and likely to cause them alarm or distress. Students can be subject to harassment and thus have a right to make a complaint even if the harassing behaviour is not directed at them personally, but instead at another student or member of staff.
Harassment may have either the purpose or the effect of violating an individual’s dignity or create an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that individual.1
Bullying may be characterised as offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour, an abuse or misuse of power through means intended to undermine, humiliate, denigrate or injure the recipient.2
It is recognised that differences in attitude, background and culture can often mean that what is perceived by one individual as harassment or bullying may not necessarily be perceived in the same way by another. It should be noted therefore, that when deciding whether bullying or harassment has occurred, the impact on the individual and whether the behaviour is unacceptable by normal standards will be the focus, rather than motive or intent.
Harassment or bullying can therefore, be verbal and non-verbal. The following provides examples but is not an exhaustive list:
- Verbal abuse.
- Insulting behaviour or personal insults.
- Sexist jokes, racist jokes, or jokes about an individual's sexual orientation, disability, religion or belief or age.
- Behaviour which incites racial hatred, e.g. wearing racist insignia or badges.
- Offensive written or computer generated material, including the use of social media or email.
- Unreasonable, unfair or offensive behaviour relating to an individual's disabilities or mischievous interference with personal aids or equipment.
- Unwanted physical contact ranging from touching to serious assault.
- Leering and offensive gestures.
- Display or circulation of sexually suggestive or racially abusive material.
- Coercive or menacing behaviour which interferes with dignity and privacy or which undermines an individual's self-confidence.
- Asserting a position of seniority in an aggressive, abusive or offensive manner e.g. inappropriate or derogatory remark in connection with performance of duties / responsibilities.
- Intrusion by pestering, spying or stalking.
- Ridicule, isolation or exclusion from everyday social interaction or activities.
In some instances harassment and bullying may be potentially considered as sexual violence and misconduct. Please also refer to the University’s Sexual Violence and Misconduct Policy in Volume 1 of the University Calendar.
Any difficulty in defining harassment or bullying should not deter a student from seeking support or complaining of behaviour which causes them distress. They should also not be deterred because of embarrassment or fear of intimidation.
The University will respect the sensitivity of complaints of harassment or bullying, and their consequences, and will treat any complaint with the utmost confidentiality and in line with the provisions of the Data Protection Act. Complaints will not normally be taken further than the complainant wishes.
Advice and Support
The University provides a range of support for students who feel they have been subject to harassment or bullying. It is recommended that students seek advice and support in the first instance. This can be done in a number of ways:
Independent support is available to students through the Students’ Union. They provide one to one support, advice and guidance on addressing issues informally or making a complaint under the Policy, and supporting someone who is accused under the Policy. The Students’ Union can also facilitate mediation between students or student groups where difficulties have arisen.
Harassment Contacts Network
The University operates a network of Harassment Contacts who can be approached by students. The Harassment Contacts are there to listen and support, and explain the options available. A list of Harassment Contacts is available at: www.durham.ac.uk/equality.diversity/
College Student Support Offices
Staff in College Student Support offices can provide support and guidance for students being bullied or harassed.
The University Counselling Service
The University Counselling Service offers a high standard of service in professional counselling for any student who finds that their difficulties are hard to manage, and/or their difficulties are affecting their studies. Please see www.durham.ac.uk/counselling.service/ for further details.
Procedures for making a complaint about Harassment and Bullying
Where a student considers themselves to be under physical threat or at serious risk of imminent harm, they should always contact the police in the first instance. Support for students in this situation can be provided by those members of the University community set out in the section ‘’Advice and Support’’ above.
Students should raise complaints of harassment or bullying in a timely manner and without unreasonable delay. Unless the University is notified of incidents of harassment or bullying within a reasonable length of time, the University may not be able to adequately investigate or take steps to prevent or eliminate harassment or bullying.
All parties involved should act in good faith to seek a successful resolution of any complaint at as early a stage as possible.
All parties will be treated fairly, consistently and with respect.
A student raising a complaint under this procedure has the right to have the complaint investigated and handled appropriately by the University and meetings, decisions and confirmation of decisions will not be unreasonably delayed.
The individual or individuals against whom a complaint is made shall have the right to respond to any allegations made against them.
All parties should make every effort to resolve each complaint informally or at the early formal stages of the procedure wherever possible.
Use of a third party to help resolve the problem, whether internal or external, may be considered where deemed to be appropriate by the University.
A complaint determined by the University to be malicious, demonstrably false or vexatious complaint may give rise to disciplinary proceedings against the complainant.
Informal Stage One
The student should discuss any incident of harassment or bullying with a trusted fellow student or with a member of the University community outlined under the section ‘Advice and Support’ above. The student should keep a note of the details of any relevant incidents which cause offence, including dates, times and the names of any witnesses; and any relevant emails, notes etc.
In some less serious cases speaking to, or writing a letter to, the person concerned to let them know their behaviour is unacceptable, can be sufficient to remedy the situation and prevent any repeat of the unacceptable behaviour. For example: “I think your behaviour/remark is offensive and I want you to stop.” A copy of any such correspondence should always be kept.
Often a person approached in this way may not have been aware that their actions have been perceived as harassment or bullying and may be embarrassed and thus stop the behaviour without the need for further action. Where the behaviour continues or if the behaviour is of a more serious nature, a student may consider a more formal approach necessary.
Informal Stage Two
Where appropriate, a student should speak or write to their Head of Department, member of staff in their College Student Support Office or the Principal/Master of their College. Students can request that these staff speak on their behalf to the person concerned in accordance with the Informal Stage 1 process.
In the event that these steps fail to resolve the matter the student may request an informal investigation to be carried out by the Head of Department, member of staff in their College Student Support Office or the Principal/Master of their College on behalf of the University. Advice about the conduct of the informal investigation can be sought from the Academic Support Office via the Assistant Registrar (Student Complaints and Appeals) in the case of complaints involving students. A representative from the Human Resources department can be consulted in the case of complaints involving allegations of bullying and harassment by staff.
The member of staff identified by the University to undertake the informal investigation will meet with the individual against whom the complaint is made to advise him/her of the allegations and invite their response.
If appropriate, the Academic Support Office or Human Resources may advise that a meeting be held with both parties with the aim of facilitating a discussion and reaching a resolution. This may include the use of trained mediators where appropriate.
The outcome of the informal stage of the complaint process may conclude:
- Complaint not founded;
- Situation mutually resolved; or
- Complaint founded.
Where a complaint is deemed by the University to be founded, but the University considers action short of disciplinary action to be appropriate in order to reach a suitable resolution. The University may request either or both of the following:
- The person against whom the complaint was made to offer a written apology to the student; and/or
- The person against whom the complaint was made to undertake additional training or personal counselling to ensure repeats of such behaviour shall not occur in the future.
If it is determined by the University that informal action has not resolved the situation, or if in the circumstances informal action has been deemed by the University not to be appropriate under the circumstances, then a formal complaint may be made in writing to the Assistant Registrar (Student Complaints and Appeals) in the Academic Support Office using the template at the end of this Policy. Students should aim to provide as much information as possible of the events complained of, any supporting information and, where possible, a clear indication of the outcome sought.
The Assistant Registrar (Student Complaints and Appeals) or their representative will acknowledge receipt of the complaint within 7 days. The Assistant Registrar (Student Complaints and Appeals) in consultation with the Deputy Academic Registrar will determine who should conduct an investigation. The Investigating Officer will normally be the service officer of the area to which the complaint relates or an appropriate senior member of the University.
In the event that the complaint is against a member of staff, the Assistant Registrar (Student Complaints and Appeals) will consult with Human Resources from the outset and a representative from Human Resources will be involved in the investigation.
Investigating Officers will act promptly and tactfully, observing appropriate levels of confidentiality at all times.
Before the investigation begins the student bringing forward the complaint (henceforth ‘’the complainant’’) will be asked to attend an informal meeting during which the procedures to be followed will be explained and the details of the allegation will be confirmed. Please note that if the complainant is unwilling for the alleged harasser to be informed of the substance of the complaint against them, the investigation cannot proceed. A note of the meeting will be sent to the complainant who will be asked to confirm whether it is an accurate summary of the discussion.
Following the information meeting an investigation will be undertaken as quickly as possible and will normally begin within 5 working days of the initial meeting. All parties involved will be expected to maintain appropriate levels of confidentiality. The complainant and respondent will be informed that they should not make any contact with each other during the course of the investigation unless otherwise instructed by the Investigating Officer.
The complainant and any potential witnesses of the alleged offence will be required to attend a meeting with the Investigating Officer. Students may be accompanied by a member of the University community such as a member of staff, Students’ Union representative or a fellow student. Members of staff may be accompanied by a trade union representative or work colleague. For the avoidance of doubt, the work colleague must be an employee of Durham University, not acting in a legal capacity.
The respondent will then be informed of the formal complaint made against them and asked to attend a meeting with the Investigating Officer. During this meeting the complaint procedure will be explained and the details of the allegation against them will be confirmed. They will be given a full and fair opportunity to explain or present their version of events in response to the complaint.
In all investigatory meetings, notes will be made and the interviewee will be asked to confirm whether it is an accurate summary of the discussion. The interviewee may make any written comments about any section of the notes that they do not agree with. Copies of the confirmed notes, with any comments, will be retained by both the interviewee and the Investigating Officer.
The Investigating Officer may hold additional meetings or consult with additional parties as necessary to reach a decision. The Investigating Officer will subsequently write to all parties, advising of the outcome of the investigation.
It is expected that the formal stage of this procedure will then be completed.
In all cases the Investigating Officer will make a judgement as to whether harassment has occurred and if so whether the behaviour in question was intended to cause harassment or whether the alleged harasser could reasonably be expected to know that their behaviour would cause harassment. Having reached this decision, the outcome of this investigation may be:
- Complaint not founded – in such an instance the case would be dismissed and no further action taken.
- Complaint founded – if this is the case, the Investigating Officer will propose further action.
Where the respondent is a student and the Investigating Officer considers the misconduct is of so serious a nature that the penalty of expulsion from the University should be considered, he or she may refer the matter to the Chair or Deputy Chair of Senate Discipline Committee as an alleged breach of the University’s General Regulation IV - Discipline.
Otherwise the Investigating Officer may impose an appropriate punishment from the following list of sanctions or any of those listed in General Regulations IV – Discipline 8 f):
- A written apology to the recipient(s) for the harassment.
- Undertaking additional training or attend an appointment for counselling.
- A reprimand.
- A requirement to change College membership (with the consent of the relevant Heads of College and the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Colleges and Student Experience).
- A restriction on contact with a named person or person(s).
- A reasonable alternative sanction given the nature of the complaint.
If the respondent fails to comply with the sanctions imposed by the Investigating Officer within the time specified they may be considered to be in breach of the ruling and the Investigating Officer may refer the matter to the Senate Discipline Committee as an allegation of a major offence.
Where the respondent is a member of staff, further action may be taken in accordance with the appropriate Human Resources Disciplinary Procedure.
In circumstances where action short of disciplinary action offers a more suitable resolution, the Investigating Officer may recommend one or more of the following:
- The memberof staff make a written apology to the complainant.
- The member of staff undertakes additional training and/or receives personal counselling.
If the complainant is dissatisfied with the outcome of the investigation, or they believe the matter has not been handled fairly or properly in accordance with the Policy, they will be given the opportunity to request a review.
A review request must be made in writing to the Academic Registrar within 14 days of receipt of the outcome. The review request should include details of why the complainant is dissatisfied with the way the case has been handled, or why they believe the outcome is not reasonable together with any supporting documentation.
The Academic Registrar will identify a senior officer, independent of the case to undertake the review. The Academic Registrar may choose to undertake the review if they are independent of the case. The case will be reviewed on the basis of the documentation provided by the complainant and that held by the original Investigating Officer. The Reviewer may decide to seek further information if necessary. If it is decided that the case was not handled appropriately, the Reviewer will either refer it for new investigation or recommend specific action to resolve the matter.
If it is decided that the case has been handled fairly and properly the review request will be dismissed.
The complainant will be informed of the outcome of the review request within 28 days of receipt. The decision of the review request is final.
Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education
Once all internal processes have been exhausted, a student can make a complaint to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education (OIA) if they remain dissatisfied with the University’s decision. . Further information is available on the OIA website (www.oiahe.org.uk)
The University will monitor all reported incidents of harassment and bullying and will review the effectiveness of the Policy regularly.
Student Behaviour in Appeals and Complaints: A Code of Practice
(1) We are committed to dealing with complainants fairly and impartially and to providing a high quality service when investigating appeals and complaints. However we do not expect Durham University staff to tolerate unacceptable behaviour. Therefore this Code of practice sets out the University's approach to the relatively few complainants or appellants whose actions or behaviour we consider to be unacceptable. Consequently, this code of practice should be read in conjunction with the University's General Regulation VII Academic Appeals and the University's Complaints Procedure for Students, both of which are to be found in Durham University Calendar Volume 1.
(2) For the purposes of this code a "complainant" is a student who either makes a complaint or submits an appeal in accordance with the University's General Regulations or regulations in other University publications. The term complainant also includes anyone who has signed authorisation from a complainant to act on his or her behalf or anyone who contacts the University in connection with a complaint or appeal.
(3) The principles set out in this code of practice also apply to our dealings with third parties who are not students but who seek to make a complaint against the University or its students.
(4) Whilst complainants may explore their grievances through initial discussion with University staff, they are normally expected to submit their complaint or appeal in writing in accordance with the relevant appeals or complaints procedure to enable an investigation to be undertaken. However the University will always consider alternative means of communication (other than written communication) in appropriate cases on request. Subsequent queries may be raised by Email or telephone but we normally ask complainants to confirm in writing any comments that they have made to us over the telephone so that the information can be recorded on file. We cannot respond to enquiries from anyone who is not named as a representative by the complainant.
(5) Where a complainant submits multiple complaints on substantially the same issue the University reserves its right to treat the matter as a single complaint or appeal and to decline respond to each separate, subsequent appeal or complaint.
(6) Whilst the University understands that bringing a complaint or an academic or other appeal can be a stressful experience we also recognise our duty to ensure the safety and welfare of our staff and students. Consequently the University has zero tolerance towards complainants whose behaviour is unacceptable and we will take action to protect our staff.
(7) The University's definition of "unacceptable behaviour" might include but is not necessarily restricted to cases in which there is clear evidence that the complainant has behaved in the following inappropriate way(s):
(a) communicating with the University in an abusive, offensive, defamatory, distressing, aggressive, threatening, coercive or intimidating manner;
(b) engaging in communication which is unreasonably persistent or demanding in terms of its frequency or volume;
(c) submitting an appeal or complaint containing materially inaccurate or false information or evidence;
(d) knowingly making clearly unfounded allegations against a member of the University's staff.
(8) When we consider that the behaviour of a complainant is unacceptable, as a first step, the University will normally tell the complainant why we find their behaviour unacceptable and we will ask them to change it. If the unacceptable behaviour continues, we will take action to restrict their contact with the University.
(9) The decision to restrict contact with the University can be taken by one of the following members of staff or their nominees: the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Education), the Chief Operating Officer (Registrar), Academic Registrar. Any restrictions imposed will be appropriate and proportionate. The options we are most likely to consider are:
- requesting contact in a particular form (for example letters only);
- requiring contact to take place with a named officer (complainants should normally write to or telephone only the member of University staff dealing with their complaint or appeal);
- restricting telephone calls or emails to specified days and times;
- asking the complainant to appoint a representative to correspond with us; and/or
- asking the complainant to enter into an agreement about their conduct.
(10) Normally we write to tell the complainant why we believe their behaviour is unacceptable, what action we are taking and the duration of that action.
(11) Where a complainant behaves unacceptably during a telephone conversation, we may as a last resort terminate the call and we may restrict future contact to email or written correspondence.
(12) Where a complainant continues to behave in a way which we consider to be unacceptable, we may decide to seek advice from the University Officers listed in 9 above as to whether University discipline proceedings be initiated (as outlined in General Regulation IV Discipline) or whether it is necessary to terminate contact with the complainant. In exceptional circumstances this may mean that the University is unable to continue with the consideration of the case. Where appropriate, we may issue a completion of procedures letter, advising the complainant of their right to take matters to OIA (if the complainant is a recent student of the University).
(13) Where the behaviour is so extreme that it threatens the immediate safety and welfare of the University's staff, we will consider other options, for example reporting the matter to the Police or taking legal action. In such cases, we may not give the complainant prior warning of that action.
(14) This Code of practice and its use will be reviewed by the Student Experience Sub-Committee at least every three years.
Code of Practice for Durham Students' Union.
Students Living Out of College: A Code of Conduct
Maintaining Contact with your College
Students who “live-out” remain, of course, members of their college and are encouraged to enjoy the privileges and responsibilities of membership of their College communities no less than those who “live-in’. In addition to providing a focus for social and recreational life, and a place to collect mail, College is a critically important point of contact with the University on official academic matters, student support issues and, in addition, a medium for emergency messages. It is therefore essential that College be kept informed of each student’s correct term-time address and telephone numbers.
Durham and Stockton are by and large very safe places. However, crime does occur and quite often this is opportunistic and targeted towards students’ residences. Thieves do look for lap top computers, tablets and mobile phones, for example. They very rarely use forced entry but will look for easy opportunities such as windows left open and mobiles and laptops left on display. Please be vigilant and take precautions to protect your property. If you need advice on securing your home do contact your local police office. Please bear in mind the need to walk around town in company late at night. These are just basic precautions and are not meant to imply that you are more at threat as a liver out.
On Being Good Neighbours
Some neighbours may not be familiar with the University or with the pressures and exuberance of student life. You and your housemates may be a local resident’s only contact with the University. The University and all your fellow students will, therefore, be judged by your behaviour. It is extremely important that you establish and maintain good relations with your neighbours (and they with you). The goodwill of all residents is essential for good relations and in any case you will derive greater pleasure from living out if you get on well with your neighbours. Relationships between local residents and students are not necessarily a source of antipathy. Consider joining or supporting your local residents’ association as this will provide you with an opportunity to contribute to your neighbourhood. Remember that you are an important part of the community.
Excessive noise at any time, but particularly late at night, is very un-neighbourly and can cause great distress. It is especially disturbing to those whose working day starts and finishes earlier than yours or who need an undisturbed night, particularly between Sunday night and Friday morning which are for most people their working week. Do please respect the needs of others, particularly in terraced houses with thin walls. Please keep radios, TVs and any other music at low volume. If you have a party at your home, remember to inform your neighbours and to promise them that it will finish at a reasonable, and specified, time. Think about inviting them to your party. During summer months, please remember that noise from garden parties can be excessive even if this is just normal conversation levels. Fireworks should not be let off late in the evening and certainly not during the early hours of the morning (this can be anti-social and may be interpreted as a criminal offence). You should be aware that any citizen who is repeatedly disturbed by excessive noise or other unacceptable behaviour may also contact the Environmental Health Office or the Police who have extensive powers to deal with anti-social activities.
A significant proportion of complaints received from local residents relates to disorderly behavior resulting from drunkenness. The easiest way to avoid this type of behavior is to avoid excessive consumption of alcohol. Many students’ houses do not have front gardens and therefore rowdy and drunken behavior on the streets causes considerable disturbance and distress to local residents. Unfortunately, this type of rowdy and drunken behavior has all too regularly led to criminal damage to residents’ properties. Any incidences of this type will be dealt with robustly by the Police. In extreme circumstances, where the University is deemed to have been brought into serious disrepute, this may lead to disciplinary processes which can lead to a student being required to leave the University.
The other major source of complaint by non-student residents is the inconsiderate use and parking of cars or other vehicles. The default position of General Regulations of the University is that students are not permitted to park on University premises. Residents find it inconvenient and annoying if they can never park in front of their own home because another car is parked there on a long-term basis.
Recycling and Waste
All Livers Out should manage their waste and recycling responsibly. For information on Recycling and Waste collections in your area, view the Recycling Guidelines at www.durham.ac.uk/greenspace/policies/students/liversout/ or consult the website of your local council.
Students should please take particular effort to ensure streets are left tidy at the end of term – leaving large piles of waste is unsightly, dangerous and can attract vermin:
- Sort unwanted items in advance so that you have time to dispose of them appropriately i.e. take unwanted clothing to charity shops, unwanted food to food banks etc.
- Avoid overflowing bins by disposing of recycling and waste at regular intervals throughout the term.
- Please liaise with neighbours if you will not be around to return your bins to your property after collections.
The University’s Green Move Out Scheme takes place at the end of the academic year. This Scheme collects students’ unwanted items. These are then distributed to charity or made available to students for reuse at the start of the following year – all donations raised are donated to charity. Information on how to participate in the Green Move Out scheme is available at www.durham.ac.uk/greenspace/greenmoveout/.
University - City Liaison and the Code of Conduct
If action via remonstration proves ineffective (and it is hoped that there will be no such case), the College or University authorities are empowered to deal with the matter as a potential major offence, for which the penalty can be expulsion.