In the recent Teche article Academic Integrity Reporting: A new simplified system to report a breach we introduced the new online system for reporting cases of suspected academic integrity breaches, the Simplicity Advocate Incident System (SAIS). We looked at how you report a breach, types of breaches, and types of supporting evidence. 

Now, in part 2, we look at the process for handling a suspected breach of the academic integrity policy after a report has been submitted by the Unit Convenor. 


What to expect if you are the Unit Convenor (or reporter of the suspected breach): 

Once you report a suspected breach, your involvement in the process will be:

  • You will receive an email acknowledging receipt of the case
  • You will be contacted if any further information is required
  • Wait for the case to go through the process via the committee
  • Note that Unit Convenors do not have authority to apply a sanction to the student
  • If the case is unresolved by the time you need to finalise the end of session grade for the student, enter a code of UJ for the grade. A UJ grade means ‘Result not yet released due to an unresolved matter (usually for cases of allegations of academic misconduct or disciplinary matters)’.
  • You will be contacted and advised of the outcome of the case
  • Depending on the outcome of the case, you may be required to adjust assessment marks or a final grade for the student
  • If a student was initially given a final grade of UJ, then once the outcome is known, you will need to submit a ‘Change of Grade’ form to resolve the incomplete grade.
  • There is no need for you to contact the student regarding the case once it has been reported as the student will be kept informed throughout the process.

What is the role of Faculty Discipline Committee in resolving cases?

The role of the Faculty Discipline Committee:

  • Once a case is reported via the online system, the Faculty Secretariat can access cases for their faculty (and only their faculty).
  • Each case is discussed with the Chair of the Faculty Discipline Committee who makes a decision regarding how to address the breach. Depending on the nature of the case, this might involve applying a sanction under delegated authority, referring the case to a meeting of the Faculty Discipline Committee or to the University Discipline Committee.
  • The Faculty Discipline Committee is chaired by the Faculty Deputy Dean Education (or nominee) (formerly Associate Dean Learning & Teaching) and comprises selected academic staff representing departments and disciplines within the faculty. The committee meets as necessary to discuss cases, review evidence and interview students.

The online breach reporting system supports this process by:

  • The built-in workflow of the system will automatically route the case to the relevant Faculty “bucket”. There are built in workflows in the system to allow the faculty to view and track cases and progress outcomes.
  • Simple “click” to create the committee papers with all the relevant materials consolidated in one file saves time and enhances document controls.
  • Standard letters are sent to students from within the online system (and are securely stored there). This includes ‘Pre-acceptance’ letters, requests for meeting attendance and outcome letters to students (and staff).
  • The faculty can generate reports such as types of cases by faculty, unit and assessment task.

What are the options for resolving a case at the faculty level?

There are various options available for resolution, depending on the nature of the case:

  • Student may be given an informal warning in minor cases or a formal warning.
  • Student may be given the option to accept responsibility for the breach and accept a prescribed sanction (eg. penalty for task).
  • Student may be requested to attend a meeting of the Faculty Discipline Committee.
  • If the student is found to be responsible for a breach, this record will be stored on the system and any further breach may result in a more serious outcome. An informal warning will also be recorded in the system but the matter will be closed.

What sanctions are applied at the faculty level if a student is found responsible for a breach of the academic integrity policy? 

The Faculty Discipline Committee applies penalties according to the approved Schedule of Sanctions and considers consistency with other precedent cases. Possible sanctions include:

  • Excluding from assessment or re-assessing any part of the work submitted for the assessment.
  • reducing a mark awarded to any part of the assessment.
  • not awarding a mark to or disregarding any part of the assessment.
  • substituting an alternative mark for any part of the assessment.
  • requiring the accused student to redo the assessment.
  • failing the accused student in the assessment.

Note:

Penalties for academic misconduct are outlined to students in the Academic Integrity Module for Students which all students are required to complete in their first session of study at MQ.

Serious cases or recidivists are escalated to the University Discipline Committee

Cases involving alleged serious misconduct, fraud, contract cheating or recidivist behaviour are referred for consideration under the Student Discipline Procedure and may be referred to the University Discipline Committee.

For further information about the end-to-end process see Handling & resolving alleged student breaches of the academic honesty policy.

Procedural fairness for the student

The MQ processes for the handling of suspected academic integrity breaches are designed to ensure procedural fairness for the student and take into account their rights:

  • To have their privacy protected
  • To be advised about the case
  • To be heard and be provided with the opportunity to communicate and explain their circumstances
  • To an unbiased investigation and collection of information and assessment of that information
  • To have a decision or sanction applied based on evidence
  • To appeal a decision

Teaching staff at the frontline: What you can do to foster Academic Integrity

Teaching staff are at the frontline for fostering academic integrity in the classroom. However, we recognise that sometimes there may be barriers to carrying out these responsibilities. Here’s some things that might help:

Quick read Teche articles related to academic integrity:

Fostering Academic Integrity in your Classroom

Three ways to enhance academic integrity in your unit

Academic Integrity Reporting – a new simplified system to report a breach

Online exam cheating or just confusion?

Preparing online exams in iLearn – Teche post coming soon

Contact your Faculty Discipline Committee

If you need further assistance, please contact your Faculty Discipline Committee secretariat. They’ll be able to guide you through the faculty-based processes including preliminary investigations.

Acknowledgement: Thanks to Nerida Lithgow and team for their assistance in the creation of this article.

Header image: Photo by Grace Madeline on Unsplash
Unit Convenor image: Business vector created by rawpixel.com – www.freepik.com

Posted by Kylie Coaldrake

Learning and Teaching Development Coordinator Office of PVC (Learning and Teaching)

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