Formal vs informal investigation procedure

The formal procedure should be initiated where there is reasonable suspicion that there has been misconduct, and, if proven, that the student should be penalised.

It doesn't automatically mean that misconduct has been proven, nor that the offence is deemed ‘serious’. However, a formal investigation:

  1. signals to the student(s) the importance of the issue and potential consequences
  2. allows for one of the higher penalties to be applied
  3. ensures there is a formal note on the student’s record of the investigation

The formal procedure must always be followed where there is a suspected serious offence, or when it relates to suspected academic misconduct during an examination.

The university’s procedures allow for informal investigation. This is intended to enable staff to discuss a minor offence with a student(s) or find out more about a situation of potential academic misconduct.

Informal discussion is particularly useful where the student(s) may have misunderstood the assessment brief or may be unfamiliar with academic referencing and good academic practice. The discussion may be brief, and may take place immediately, as soon as the issue occurs. This may be all that is needed to counsel the student, or to give them a ‘wake-up call’.

An informal investigation may lead to:

  1. No academic misconduct found and no further action
  2. Guidance to student highlighting poor academic practice and proper referencing protocols
  3. Admonition to student (informal warning)
  4. Initiating formal investigation of suspected academic misconduct (but this doesn’t necessarily mean a serious offence is suspected)

The student’s PAT, and the Quality Manager at the student’s HAP should be informed about the discussion, and the outcome.

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