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Independent Review into student disciplinary and appeal processes

We are improving how we handle student disciplinary and appeals processes following recommendations from an independent external review. On this page, you can read the review in full, along with our principles, our vision and implementation plan that will address all the issues that have been raised, and updates against our implementation plan.

November 2020: Outline on student disciplinary process improvements at Warwick

One part of our response to the independent review following group chat was to make significant improvements to the student disciplinary process at Warwick. We published the review in full at the time. Here is a brief outline on some of the improvements made to disciplinary processes to support our commitment to the wellbeing of our community.

  1. Safeguarding
    We ensure that disciplinary panels are fully informed about the nature of any incident being considered. They are also briefed on potential risks to the community if a student going through a disciplinary process is allowed to continue their studies during the process, or to return to them at a future date after a period of temporary withdrawal.

  2. Experience and training

    Members of disciplinary panels are selected on the basis of transferable skills and experience. They receive extensive training relevant to the cases they consider. Panel members considering sexual misconduct cases receive training from the Coventry Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre, external independent Sexual Misconduct Investigators and Legal Consultants. The case is always presented by a University officer who has also attended sexual misconduct training.

  3. Support for complainants and defendants

    All individuals involved in a case are provided with support from dedicated Student Liaison Officers who have attended the University’s sexual misconduct training.

  4. Consistency

    Disciplinary panel members are given details of any aggravating or mitigating factors relevant to the case being considered, and information on sanctions, training requirements and evaluations applied in similar cases in the past.

  5. Assessment of fitness to return
    Where defendants are required to undertake training or other activities as part of the sanctions imposed, we follow an assessment process to ensure that training has been completed and a suitably qualified professional independent to the University confirms the individual has met requirements before return to study is permitted.

The University is committed to ensuring the wellbeing of all students, staff and visitors. Harassment of any kind is completely unacceptable, and our community is an environment where prejudice and socially unacceptable behaviour are never tolerated. Should any member of the University community have concerns about student discipline or any other incidents, please use the report and support portal.


Previous Updates:

July 2020: Progress on how we handle student disciplinary and appeal processes and principles

Last year, the University committed to implementing in full the recommendations of Dr Sharon Persaud’s review of our student disciplinary and appeals processes (issued July 2019) and the five principles developed by the Joint Senate and Council Advisory Group. Following an update at the University Council meeting on 8th July 2020, we have published our fourth progress report.

A statement from Chair of Council, Sir David Normington:

July 2020 marks a year since the University Council accepted the recommendations of the external review of Dr Sharon Persaud into our procedures and policy on sexual misconduct and the principles which emerged from the Joint Group on Values, set up by Senate and Council. We undertook to implement the recommendations in two phases: phase one to be completed by the start of the academic year 19/20 and phase two by the end of December this year. Council has maintained oversight of progress for this period.

Phase one was concerned mainly with revising our student disciplinary process, policy and practice regarding sexual misconduct - all of which is now in place. Phase two work is now well underway and extends the sexual misconduct policy and process to staff, as well as to discrimination on grounds of other protected characteristics. We are on track for this to be in place by the beginning of this academic year.

We have also undertaken work to embed the principles of dignity and respect to support the University’s values and are committed to continuing that work through education and support to firmly establish expected behaviours across our community.

This has all been made possible by the dedication of the staff, students and external advisers in the Implementation Group and the Values Group.

Reaching this milestone does not mean we will stop this work which is of such vital importance to us as a community. Council has agreed to review an annual report on continuing progress and the Values Group will continue to meet regularly to guide, steer and challenge us as we progress.

An update on our progress

Council were updated on 8 July that all of the recommendations that were included in phase one of the implementation plan have now been completed, and phase two is now well underway.

More detailed updates are included in the following progress report:

View the fourth progress report on the implementation plan here

View the implementation plan in full here


Update on progress against our implementation plan – 20 May 2020

Last year, the University committed to implementing in full the recommendations of Dr Sharon Persaud’s review of our student disciplinary and appeals processes (issued July 2019). Following an update at today’s Council meeting, we have published our third progress report.

Council was informed that 21 of the recommendations have been completed, with the remaining nine in progress. Although work continues at pace with activities being converted to online, the expected completion date for a few of these will now extend past July 2020 into the first term of the new academic year, restrictions allowing, due to the impact of COVID-19. These are detailed in progress report, below.

View the third progress report on the implementation plan here

View the implementation plan in full here

Update on progress against our implementation plan – 12 February 2020

Last year, the University committed to implementing in full the recommendations of Dr Sharon Persaud’s review of our student disciplinary and appeals processes (issued July 2019). Following an update at today’s Council meeting, we have published our second progress report focusing on phase 2 of implementation. 

Council was informed that implementation is on track, as the working group continues to engage with staff, students and the wider Warwick community to focus on delivering longer term and more complex actions. 

View the second progress report on the implementation plan here

View the implementation plan in full here

Update on progress against our implementation plan - 9 October 2019

We have published our first progress report highlighting measures taken to improve the handling of student disciplinary and appeals processes. This follows recommendations from the independent review published in July, led by Dr Sharon Persaud, which we committed to addressing in full.

View the October 2019 progress report on the implementation plan here

View the implementation plan in full here

10 July 2019: An open letter from the Vice-Chancellor, Stuart Croft

I am writing this letter to our University of Warwick community in my role as the Vice-Chancellor.

Many of you will be aware that, following the events surrounding the group chat in February this year, the University’s Council commissioned an independent external review into our student disciplinary and appeals processes, including those relating to sexual misconduct. The review was led by Dr Sharon Persaud, and today we are publishing her independent external review in full.

We accept the findings and recommendations made in the review. We made mistakes in our handling of the situation, including in how we communicated with the victims and with our community. We wholeheartedly apologise.

Everyone has the right to feel safe on campus. Sexual misconduct or harassment of any kind is completely unacceptable. The University has already taken action in some areas covered by the review’s recommendations, including to set up two specialist external investigators to support with disciplinary cases. We have also come together as a community to draw up a statement of principles which affirm our values here at Warwick, and we will be embedding these across the community so that everyone is clear what we stand for.

Today we are publishing an implementation plan alongside the full review report that sets out our priorities for this work, and we will be holding a series of sessions giving everyone the opportunity to get involved in this process.

We will report publicly on our progress, beginning in September 2019.

We have listened and reflected. We will now deliver on our commitments. We are determined that, by continuing to work together with our students, staff and wider Warwick community, we will build on the steps we have already taken and deliver our action plan which focuses upon developing pride and commitment to our values, greater transparency, and improved policies and processes.

I look forward to sharing our progress with you.

Best wishes,
Stuart Croft

The Review

In this section, you can read the independent external review in full. It is followed by our guiding principles, which set out the values that we stand for as the Warwick community. Our vision and implementation plan then explain how we will address the issues that have been raised in the independent review, and how we will work to embed the statement of principles.

  1. The independent external review and its recommendations
  2. Our guiding principles
  3. Our vision and implementation plan 

Further information:

A message from Warwick

Our message shares some reflections from those involved in events surrounding the group chat incident over the last few months – student representatives, Executive Council members and our Vice Chancellor.

Wellbeing Support Services

There is wellbeing resource available for all those affected by the recent events who would like support. This support is free, confidential, and open to all students and staff.

Find out more about support at Warwick:

Free confidential support is available for every member of our community

Support for students

Support for staff