Misconduct by a student means -
- an act or omission of a student which is prohibited by a University Statute, regulation, rule, by-law, Code of Conduct or policy or Senate Resolution, or by an order made under a University Statute, regulation, rule, by-law or Senate Resolution; or
- any conduct on the part of a student which impairs the reasonable freedom of other members of the University to pursue their studies or research, or the reasonable freedom of persons to express their opinions within the University, or to participate in the life of the University, or which impairs University administration;
Where it is believed that a student may have breached the Code of conduct, a policy, a By-law etc., the student is asked to respond to the concern(s) of alleged misconduct. This process is managed under the Regulations of student conduct and discipline.
On this page, find out more about the four types of student misconduct, and the discipline process outlined in the Regulations.
Academic integrity means behaving in an honest, fair and moral way in an academic setting and engaging academic misconduct is a risk to you and to the University. It is everyone’s responsibility to ensure that there is trust and confidence with the reputation of your degree and the University.
Find out more about what academic integrity is, training and supports available, and more guidance on how to not engage in academic misconduct here.
Research misconduct has significant risks you to, research participants, the University and the broader community. Anyone engaging in research must act in accordance with the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research 2018 (ACRCR).
Find out more about what research integrity is, training and guidance available to you, and what is considered research misconduct here.
Professional misconduct is inappropriate behaviour by a student while undertaking a part of your course in a professional setting e.g. professional/clinical placement, field trip, work integrated learning unit. It relates to any behaviour that is not consistent with the professional standards expected within the profession.
If you are studying towards a professional degree: medicine, dentistry, education, psychology, podiatry, social work etc. engaging in professional misconduct may lead to a fail in a practical component of your course which could mean that you are not able to complete your studies. General misconduct may also be considered by the School delivering your course as they have concerns about your fitness to practice in the profession.
Where you have any concerns, you are strongly encouraged to read any material provided to you by your school or discipline and discuss any issues when they arise with the relevant University staff member.
General misconduct describes inappropriate behaviour that is not consistent with UWA’s values of inclusiveness and respect for others and / or the University. UWA may become aware of alleged behaviour you have engaged in from: a complaint, a report, or a security incident report. Some inappropriate behaviours may also be criminal offence.
Types of behaviour, or actions, considered unacceptable include, but are not limited to:
- causing harm of any kind (physical, psychological, other)
- attacking, harassing, intimidating, bullying another person, or threatening to do so
- engaging in sexual misconduct
- breaching the law or a University statute or University By-Law
- failing to follow proper instructions by University staff or impacting on the orderly conduct of the University
Students should be aware of their obligations under UWA’s Codes, policy, regulations, and By-Laws; and review their rights and responsibilities under the Charter for Student Rights and Responsibilities.
The Student Discipline Process
When UWA is informed that you may have acted inappropriately UWA will first review the information provided in:
- A complaint from another member of the University or wider community;
- A report from a UWA staff member; or
- A UWA Security report.
If there is sufficient information, UWA will commence the discipline process – an investigation into what is said to have occurred. It is important that you consider and understand the following:
- while the views of a complainant / reporter will be considered, it is UWA that makes the decision to commence a student discipline process;
- the process involved an open and objective inquiry and doesn’t start with a belief that you have done something, and we are setting out to prove it;
- where appropriate, UWA seeks in most cases to educate and support you so that you understand why the behaviour was unacceptable and to prevent you from doing the same type of behaviour again;
- where appropriate, UWA may need to take steps to ensure the safety of the University community.
Any student asked to respond to an allegation of misconduct under the discipline process is strongly encouraged to read the Regulations on Student conduct and discipline (the Regulations) and any other policies referred to when you are informed about the commencement of the discipline process.
Who are the people involved in the discipline process?
decision maker -- an employee, or board, of UWA who must make a decision about the findings and where appropriate the penalties to be applied
investigator – this is the person who will go through the discipline process and make findings. It may be the same person as the decision maker but may also be another employee what is asked to undertake the investigation, a person from the Integrity and Standards Unit; or an external investigator.
respondent – is the student who is asked to respond to the allegations about their conduct.
Witness – is a person the investigator may contact during the investigation to obtain information / evidence.
How / when will I know that a discipline process has started?
You may not be told immediately when something is reported to the University. The University needs to consider what has been reported, and if there is something that you, as the respondent, need to respond to.
You may be told by an employee that they have made / will be making a report of alleged misconduct. You will then receive further information on next steps in the process. Where the Integrity and Standards Unit is undertaking the investigation, you will receive a Notice of Commencement of a Student Discipline Process.
What is the Notice of Commencement of Discipline Process?
In any situation where you are asked to respond to an allegation, you will be provided with sufficient information to know what the allegation is, what it is based on, and your right to respond to the allegation.
When the Integrity and Standards Unit is investigating a case you will receive the Notice usually as an attachment. It will provide you with:
- the allegation (s)
- the Code and policy that will have been breached if the allegation (s) are proven
- the particulars which are the specific details of the allegation(s) – for example, if it involves inappropriate correspondence, the dates of the correspondence and the statements included that are being investigated.
Information on the process and support services available to you
What are the steps in the Discipline process?
Each discipline case follows the same general process. However, the complexity and seriousness of any specific case may not follow the exact same process. Generally, the steps will involve:
- reviewing existing relevant evidence i.e., Security Incident Reports, complaint statements.
- providing a student with a Notice of Commencement of Student Conduct and Discipline Process which includes the allegations a student is asked to respond to
- gathering new, relevant evidence i.e., undertake interviews, collect CCTV footage etc.
- providing a respondent with an opportunity to consider the evidence gathered in the investigation;
- providing a respondent with an opportunity to respond/reply to an allegation(s) in an interview and/or by submitting a written response.
- making findings for the allegation(s), and
- where appropriate, apply penalties or recommend penalties.
What is an allegation?This is a reported incident or incidents of conduct that has not yet been proven
What is meant when the process talks about proof?
What is meant when the process talks about proof?
There are two essential considerations of proof –
The burden of proof refers to who has the responsibility to prove that what is alleged to have occurred did occur. In a student discipline case, the University has this responsibility.
The standard of proof means the level of ‘proof’ that needs to be found to support a finding. It means that having considered the information (evidence) that it is found that it is more likely than not that something happened. This is known as the balance of probabilities. It is not the same as in a court but is a higher threshold than simply believing that something happened.
What are aggravating and mitigating circumstances?
These are considerations only applied after a finding is made. If it is found that the allegation(s) are substantiated the person considering penalties will discuss with you and consider the following:
- aggravating circumstances are factors considered in applying penalties and includes factors such as: repeated misconduct, severity of the misconduct, lack of acknowledgement of harm caused etc.
- mitigating circumstances are factors considered in applying penalties and include factors such as: remorse, lack of prior misconduct, personal circumstances etc.
What are the University’s expectations of me in a discipline process?
UWA respects the confidentiality of the disciplinary process.
Records are kept confidential and shared only as required in the process. No discipline information is placed on an academic transcript.
UWA’s expectation of parties to a discipline process include, but are not limited, to the following
- communicating with courtesy and respect;
- reasonable cooperation with the process;
- confidentiality should be maintained regarding the discipline process as follows:
- discussing the allegations and process only with relevant support people; and
- not gossiping or posting on social media, sending spam emails etc.
- parties to a discipline process should not take any reprisal actions against another party.
confidentiality breaches are likely to be considered misconduct
Are there any support services as I feel very distressed?
UWA intends to implement fair and just procedures for dealing with cases of alleged misconduct, but recognises the process may be stressful.
As an enrolled student you continue to have access to a wide range of student support services.
If you have been temporarily suspended from campus you can discuss with staff other ways to access these services.
The UWA Student Guild has a Guild Wellbeing Counsellor who can provide support.
Can I have a support person in a discipline process?
A support person is someone you have asked to provide you with support during a discipline process. A support person can be, but is not limited to:
- a Guild Student Assist Officer;
- a family member, friend or UWA student;
- someone from an interviewee’s ethnic, religious or cultural background; or
- a psychologist.
There is no requirement for a support person to be a Guild Student Assist Officer, but it is recommended that a student consider this option. They are trained staff employed by the Guild to provide a free advocacy and support service. They are familiar with UWA’s regulations/rules/policies and are independent. This is a free service for any UWA student.
A support person cannot be:
- a peer involved, or who may have been involved, in an incident under investigation; or
- a person who may be required to attend an interview as a witness; or
- a lawyer, unless in the capacity of a 'support person' as outlined in this document.
A support person will usually:
- assist you to prepare for an interview/hearing;
- help you with a written submission;
- help you to consider and prepare an appeal;
- ask process related questions or help you to take breaks etc. as required in any meeting.
A support person needs to:
- understand their role – in particular the need for a respondent to answer questions, not the support person;
- be aware of and maintain confidentiality;
- not interrupt the meeting proceedings, interject, be obstructive to the flow of communication or speak on behalf of the interviewee.
- If the above requirements are not observed the interviewer or the Chair of the Board of Discipline may decide to reschedule the meeting and offer an opportunity to invite an alternate support person.
Arranging a support person:
- generally, only one person is to attend in the capacity of support person;
- although you are entitled to select a support person, you should not create unnecessary delays by insisting on someone who will not be available within a reasonable timeframe;
- the interviewer has the right to request the name of the support person attending prior to the meeting/hearing taking place;
- if an allegation(s) is to be heard by a Board of Discipline, the Chair will have authority to determine if more than one support person can attend;
if there are any other considerations i.e., for access to an interpreter, you should let the person conducting the investigation know of this and they have the authority to consider this request.
Do I have to participate in the discipline process?You will be offered an opportunity to attend an interview and/or make a written submission. You do not have to do either of these things. However, it is likely that the University will conclude the investigation and make findings without your input. This means you miss the chance to defend yourself, or where you engaged in the activity to talk about any factors that you would like the decision maker to consider.
Can I appeal the outcome of the discipline process?You have the right to lodge an appeal and that appeal may be considered. It will depend on what you are appealing and on what basis. The University will usually try to consider any reasonable appeal which could be made against the findings or the penalty / penalties to be applied.
Can I appeal outside the University?You can take your concerns to an external agency such as the Ombudsman Western Australia. They will usually only accept a complaint where the University process has been completed.
When will any penalty be applied?This will depend on what type of conduct has been found and is considered on each individual case. For example, academic misconduct penalties are usually applied immediately but could be paused to allow the appeal process to happen. Other misconduct, particularly where there are any ongoing safety concerns may be applied immediately.
Are interviews recorded?The University does not usually record interview or give permission for them to be recorded. The decision will be made by the person conducting the interview and if you want the interview recorded you should discuss this with them. A written record of the interview will be made, either in an email for more minor cases or as a separate document in more serious or complex cases. This will be made available to you and you will be able to provide a comment in response to the record of interview.
Is a misconduct finding recorded on my academic transcript?Records relating to any student discipline process are kept on university records. The finding will not be on your transcript; however, the penalty or other outcomes may be reflected on your transcript. For example, where a penalty is a fail for a unit, the unit result will show as a fail but it will not include an explanation that the fail is as a result of a misconduct finding.