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Academic and Student Misconduct

‘Academic misconduct’ vs ‘student misconduct’ – what’s the difference?

Academic misconduct occurs when students fail to meet the standards of integrity when completing assessment tasks. This includes, but is not limited to:

  1. Plagiarism, such as:
    1. Direct copying, summarising and using another person’s idea, literary work, picture, drawing or diagram without due acknowledgement  
  2. Self-plagiarism, such as:
    1. Re-using previous assessment items without express, written permission from the Unit Coordinator to do so
  3. Cheating in exams, such as:
    1. Bringing in unauthorised notes into an exam on a piece of paper or written on your hand or other body part
    2. Copying or reading another students exam paper
    3. Communicating with other students during an exam
  4. Collusion, such as:
    1. Collaboratively working on an assignment with another person when this assignment was intended to be completed individually
    2. asking someone for their assignment
    3. providing students with a copy of your assignment
  5. Contract cheating, such as:
    1. Employing a third party to complete an assignment or exam on your behalf and taking credit for their work
  6. Other forms of misconduct, such as:
    1. Misrepresentation or falsification about the:
      1. data or information used in an assessment task; or
      2. the degree of originality, ownership, engagement with, an assessment task.

Student misconduct refers to non-academic breaches of the QUT Student Code of Conduct or breaching the QUT Code of Responsible Conduct for Research Students. Typically, the penalties for student misconduct are more severe than those for academic misconduct.

The University may classify academic or student misconduct as minor or major, taking into consideration:

  • the extent of the misconduct;
  • how far you are along in your degree;
  • the level of knowledge that you had at the time of the offence;
  • any previous cases of misconduct; and
  • whether your conduct was in line with accepted practice in your Faculty

Minor misconduct procedure

The University tries to resolve the matter quickly and informally. Your Unit Coordinator will invite you to meet them to determine the causes behind the alleged dishonesty educate you about what is acceptable and what is not with regards to academic integrity.

You will receive a formal warning and no penalty. This means that if you do something similar again, it may not be classed as minor. You will usually only be given one chance! The Unit Coordinator will mark you as normal against the criteria, and if low grades are given for referencing, they will provide you with an explanation as to why.

Major misconduct procedure

For both academic and student misconduct, the process is as follows (with some minor differences):

You will receive a formal allegation letter from the faculty.

This letter details the misconduct allegations and invites you to attend a meeting to discuss the allegations. For allegations of academic misconduct, the meeting will be with your Faculty Academic Misconduct Committee. For student misconduct, the meeting will be with the Student Misconduct Committee.

Write a written statement to the relevant Committee prior to meeting (optional, but recommended)

Before the meeting with the relevant Committee, you have the option of providing a written statement explaining your side of the story. We recommend doing this. In this letter, you will need to explain:

  1. What happened?
  2. Do you think what you did was wrong?
  3. What do you think is a fair penalty?

Meet the Academic Misconduct Committee (date, time and location specified in allegation letter)

The relevant Committees consist of:

  • A senior member of the academic staff
  • One other academic staff member
  • One student representative
  • A secretary.

Academic misconduct meetings usually go for no longer than 10 minutes, although Student Misconduct meetings can go for 30 minutes to 1 hour. You have the right to bring along a support person if it will make you feel more comfortable. This can be a close friend, a family member or one of QUT Guild’s Advocacy Officers. Students cannot be accompanied by a practicing lawyer. If you don’t attend the meeting, the proceedings will go ahead without you. We highly recommend attending your meeting.

Once the meeting is over and you have left the room, the relevant committee will confer together to discuss what they think and they will recommend a penalty that is appropriate in your circumstances. Refer to the penalty matrix that was sent to you for a list of the possible penalties that the committee can choose from.

In cases of Academic Misconduct, the Committee will make a recommendation to the Dean of your Faculty as to what they believe an appropriate penalty is. For cases of Student misconduct, the Committee will make a recommendation to the Registrar as to what they believe an appropriate penalty is. It is up to the Dean/Registrar to apply that penalty or choose a different one altogether.

Receive the outcome

You will be notified of the Dean/Registrar’s decision by email and letter, usually within 10 working days from the meeting date.

Appeal the outcome (if you are unhappy with it)

Lodge an ‘Appeal against penalty for misconduct’ application to appeal to the University Appeals Committee. You must do this within 20 working days of receiving your outcome letter. This Committee sits at University level and can overrule the Committee’s decision. You will need to prove that:

  • that the decision is manifestly unreasonable taking into account all the circumstances of the case or cannot be supported by the evidence that was available at the time the decision was made
  • that procedural requirements specified in this policy were not followed and resulted in a decision which was manifestly unfair
  • that relevant evidence was not considered in reaching the decision or that irrelevant evidence was relied upon in reaching the decision
  • that fresh evidence has become available to the student which was not available or not known to the student at the time that the allegation was heard or decided
  • that a penalty imposed under MOPP E/8.1.8 was manifestly excessive or inappropriate, taking into account all the circumstances of the case.

The appeals process can be tricky to navigate so we recommend booking an appointment to meet one of our Advocacy Officers who can guide you through the process.