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Unfair Practice

Unfair Practice

During your time at Cardiff University you will undertake assessments: examinations, essays and other practical work.  It is important that you understand the rules about unfair practice: plagiarism, collusion and cheating, including presenting other people’s work as your own.  On the right hand side of this page are resources to help prevent you from committing unfair practice.  If you break these rules, then you will be subject to the Unfair Practice Procedure, as you will have had an unfair advantage in your assessment compared to other students.  This page gives a summary of the guidance and procedures available.

If you are a Postgraduate Research student then the Academic Integrity in Research Degree Study applies and is located toward the bottom of the page.

Guidance:

  • For guidance about the procedures please contact Student Cases Services, 30-36 McKenzie House, Newport Road, Cardiff, CF24 0DE, 029 2087 6628 appeals@cardiff.ac.uk.
  • Seek independent advice on how to respond if the University accuses you of unfair practice.  This can be obtained from the Advice and Representation Centre (ARC), 3rd floor of the Students’ Union, Park Place, Cardiff advice@cardiff.ac.uk or 02920 781410.
  • For further information on the Unfair Practice Procedure, please read:
    • the information on this page;
    • the Unfair Practice Procedure (Rules of Behaviour and Procedure);
    • the other information referred to on this page.
  • After all stages of the procedure are completed and if you are not satisfied with the process and/or the final decision then you can complain to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator.
  • If you are required to attend a meeting you can be accompanied by a friend or representative.

Unfair Practice Procedure

Procedure:

  • If the University thinks you have had an unfair advantage in an assessment an investigation will take place.  Unfair practice can occur in any type of assessment and there are different processes for each, outlined below.

School-level procedures  

  • If the assessment is a formative assignment (it doesn’t count towards your end of year mark), following investigation the Chair of the Examining Board will decide to:
    • dismiss the concern;
    • require you to undertake skills training;
    • place a note on your student record which will remain throughout your studies.
  • If the assessment is a summative assignment (it does count towards your end of year mark) then you will be invited to attend a meeting with the Unfair Practice Co-ordinator and the member of staff who identified the possible unfair practice.  The arrangements for this meeting will be explained to you at the time.  A case record will be written as a result of this meeting, you will be sent a copy of this and you will be invited to make further representations to the Chair of the Examining Board.  Using all the evidence the Chair will then decide whether or not unfair practice has occurred, the range of options available to them are to:
    • take no further action;
    • ask you to undertake study skills and warn you of the possible future consequences;
    • require you to undertake study skills and set the mark for your assessment to zero;
    • refer the case to a committee of enquiry.
  • You are able to appeal the Chair’s decision.  How to do this and the reasons that you can appeal can be found in the Procedure and will be sent to you when you are sent the panel’s decision.

University-level procedures

  • If the assessment is an exam then the invigilator who suspects you of unfair practice will inform you that they will be reporting you to the Superintendent of Examinations and may confiscate any evidence.  This will include mobile phones or electronic devices: these are not allowed in exam venues unless expressly permitted within the exam rubric.  The Superintendent will decide either to:
    • refer the case to a Committee of Enquiry;
    • take no further action.
  • The Committee of Enquiry will deal with repeated offences of unfair practice, exam cheating or other serious unfair practice which may be referred by the School.
  • A Committee will be arranged normally within 6 working weeks if your case is referred and the arrangements will be explained to you at the time. 
  • The Committee will consider the evidence submitted to it on the allegation of unfair practice, determine whether the allegation has been substantiated and if appropriate, apply a penalty.
  • The Committee has the following range of options to choose from:
    • a formal reprimand;
    • study skills training;
    • the cancellation of marks for an assessment or module or year of study;
    • a recommendation to the Vice-Chancellor that your progress is postponed for a year;
    • to reduce your degree classification by one class or to not award you a distinction;
    • a recommendation to the Vice-Chancellor that you are disqualified from future assessments.
  • You are able to appeal the Committee’s decision.  How to do this and the reasons that you can appeal can be found in the Procedure and will be sent to you when you are sent the Committee’s decision.
  • After all stages of the Procedure have been completed, if you are not satisfied with the process and/or the final decision then you can complain to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator.

Unfair Practice for Postgraduate Research students – Academic Integrity in Research Degree Study Procedure

Procedure:

  • If you are pursuing a research degree at Cardiff, you are expected to observe the highest standards of academic integrity and honesty and the University will deal severely with those individuals found in breach of these standards.  It is your responsibility to ensure that there is no plagiarism in your thesis.
  • If you or your supervisor identifies unfair practice before your thesis is submitted, then you should take steps to correct this.  If you are a member of staff then you may also be subject to the Staff Disciplinary Procedure.
  • If the University suspects you of unfair practice after your thesis is submitted then the Unfair Practice (Research Degrees) Procedure will be used.

Pre-oral examination stage

  • Your examination will proceed and the Examining Board will use the oral examination as their opportunity to investigate the suspicions raised.
  • If the Board concludes there may have been unfair practice then you shall be told that your examination is being suspended so that your submission can be investigated and a Committee of Enquiry will be arranged (see below).

During oral examination

  • The Chair of the Examining Board will tell you that your examination is being suspended so that your submission can be investigated and a committee of enquiry will be arranged.

Committee of Enquiry

  • If a Committee of Enquiry is arranged, they will decide whether:
    • you have not committed unfair practice;
    • you have committed unfair practice and you can revise your thesis and resubmit it subject to paying a re-submission fee;
    • you have committed unfair practice and you are disqualified from further examination by the University.  
  • You can appeal against the decision of the Committee.  How to do this and the reasons that you can appeal can be found in the Procedure and will be sent to you when you are sent the decision.

After your degree award

  • After your degree has been awarded, if you are suspected of unfair practice, an investigation shall take place.  You will be given an opportunity to participate in the investigation and provide evidence in response to any investigation made.  If the unfair practice is substantiated, a panel will make a recommendation to the University Council to take away your award.  
  • After all stages of Procedure have been completed, if you are not satisfied with the process and/or the final decision on your appeal then you can complain to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator
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