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Investigating Committee of the Senate

What is the Investigating Committee of Senate?

The Investigating Committee of Senate (ICS) is a University committee which considers allegations of cheating in university tests. ICS can consider allegations of cheating in tests conducted under examination conditions and in essays, dissertations and other assessed work.

Regulation 11 defines cheating as “an attempt to benefit oneself or another, by deceit or fraud. This includes reproducing one’s own work or the work of another without proper acknowledgement”.

What happens if a department suspects that a student has cheated?

Allegations of plagiarism are usually considered within a student’s academic department in the first instance – further information is available in departmental handbooks and webpages. In some cases, allegations of cheating must be referred to an ICS, such as in relation to tests conducted under examination conditions and theses submitted for examination for a higher degree by research.

For cases considered within Departments, the Head of Department (or authorised deputy) will conduct an initial investigation into suspected cheating cases. In cases where cheating is suspected, Departments may extend their investigations to work previously submitted by the student.

The Senate Examination and Degree Conventions on Suspected Cheating in a University Test, sets out a distinction between negligence and misconduct in relation to findings of cheating.

Negligence is defined as “careless or incompetent academic practice”, and departmental penalties may involve:

  • Allowing resubmission of original work with revised referencing;
  • Allowing resubmission of another piece of work on a different topic, the work to be marked normally;
  • Allowing resubmission of a new piece of work for a reduced or capped mark.

Misconduct is defined as “there being an indication of deliberation in a student’s actions” and penalties may include:

  • Allowing resubmission of another piece of work on a different topic, the work to be marked normally;
  • Allowing resubmission of a new piece of work for a reduced or capped mark;
  • A reduction in mark, to a maximum of zero for the piece of work in which the plagiarism has occurred.

If a Head of Department considers that a penalty in excess of those listed above would be appropriate, the case may be referred to an ICS.

Why might an allegation of suspected cheating be referred to an ICS?

There are certain circumstances where an allegation of cheating must be referred to an ICS:

  • Where an allegation of cheating relates to a test conducted under invigilated examination conditions;
  • Where the allegation relates to a research thesis submitted for examination for a higher degree (including work submitted as part of the annual review or upgrade process);
  • Where the allegation relates to an assessment that contributed to the previous approval of an award.

Heads of Departments should normally refer allegations of cheating to an ICS in the following circumstances:

  • Where it is considered that an allegation of cheating is of such a serious nature that, if proven, a penalty of a mark of zero in the particular piece of work would not be sufficient. For example where a student is alleged to have stolen work from another student or accessed work from a commercial internet site;
  • Where the circumstances indicate that a mark of zero is likely to have a more serious academic or professional consequence for the student, for example:
    • where the award of a mark of zero for one or multiple pieces of assessed work would potentially result in the student not being eligible to qualify for the degree for which they are registered;
    • where there may be difficult issues of evidence relating to the case which may be best considered by ICS, such as allegations of collusion involving two or more students;
    • where the allegation is such that a finding of cheating is likely to result in a referral of the student to a Fitness to Practice Committee, or place at serious risk their future eligibility to undertake professional practice;
  • Second offences of misconduct;

Following a departmental investigation, a student may request, within 10 days of being notified of the outcome, that an allegation be considered by an ICS.

What happens if my department reports an allegation of cheating against me to an ICS?

Departments should make a full report, including any relevant evidence, to the Academic Registrar, via the Doctoral College. The Doctoral College will then contact you to advise that the case has been referred for consideration by an ICS, and where possible, confirm the date of the ICS meeting which will consider the allegation(s). You will be provided with a copy of the department’s report and any supporting evidence and invited to submit a written response for consideration by the Committee.

You will be invited to attend the ICS meeting, and will be given the opportunity to be accompanied by one other person. You may attend the meeting in person or via teleconference. Representatives from your department will also be invited to attend. All attendees will be provided with copies of the papers to be considered by the Committee at least five days before the meeting.

On the day of the meeting, the Committee (constituted of members of academic staff under Regulation 11) will initially meet in private to discuss the case. After this initial deliberation all attendees will be invited to join the meeting. The Chair of the Committee will explain the procedure before asking departmental representatives to present the allegation(s). You will then be invited to respond. The Committee can then ask questions of all attendees to clarify their understanding. When the Committee is satisfied that it has all information to reach a decision, departmental representatives will be asked to leave. You will be given the opportunity to address the Committee in confidence, after departmental representatives have left. The Committee will then reach its decision in private. The decision will be communicated to you and your department within 10 working days of the date of the meeting.

What are the decisions that can be made by an ICS?

The following decisions are available to the Committee in relation to allegations of cheating in tests conducted under examination conditions:

  • If the Committee is not satisfied that you have cheated, you will be informed and the matter will end there. In some circumstances the Chair of ICS may take Chair's action to dismiss a case prior to any committee meeting if s/he judges that there is no case to answer.
  • If the Committee is satisfied that cheating has taken place it will determine the penalty and inform you and the appropriate Board of Examiners. The maximum penalty will not normally exceed a mark of zero in that examination paper, (if appropriate, with or without the opportunity to resit the paper), but in some cases the Committee will have the power to impose a more severe penalty, noting that such a penalty would be imposed without prejudice to the provisions of the Disciplinary Regulations. The Investigating Committee can refer cases to the University Discipline Committee where appropriate.

The following decisions are available to the Committee in relation to allegations of cheating in essays, dissertations, reports and other assessed work, not undertaken under examination conditions are:

  • If the Investigating Committee is not satisfied that an offence has taken place, you will be informed and the matter will end there. The Chair of ICS may also take Chair's action to dismiss a case prior to any committee meeting if s/he judges that there is no case to answer.
  • If the Investigating Committee is satisfied that an offence has taken place it will:

(a) Determine the penalty and inform you and the secretary of the appropriate Board of Examiners. The maximum penalty will not normally exceed a mark of zero in the unit of study in which the piece of work is being assessed (with or without the opportunity to resubmit or undertake a further assessment) but in some cases the Committee will have the power to impose a more severe penalty, noting that such a penalty would be imposed without prejudice to the provisions of the Disciplinary Regulations. The Investigating Committee can refer cases to the University Discipline Committee where appropriate, or

(b) Where the offence relates to an assessment which contributed to the previous approval of an academic award or honour to the candidate, make such recommendations to the Senate (or to the Senate Steering Committee acting on the Senate's behalf) to take such action under University Statutes, Ordinances and Regulations as it may consider appropriate (including that the previous academic award or honour to the candidate should be revoked).

Where can I access support in relation to a referral to an ICS?

You may wish to seek advice from the Senior Tutor or the Students’ Union Advice Centre.

Can I appeal against the decision of an ICS?

You have the right to appeal against either the decision of the Committee, or the penalty imposed. Appeals should be submitted in writing to pgappeals at warwick dot ac dot uk within 10 days of the notification of the outcome of ICS.

Appeals can be submitted on the following grounds:

(i) that there was a material irregularity or failure in procedure in the conduct of the original hearing before the Investigating Committee;
(ii) that relevant evidence has come to light which the appellant was unable to present to the Investigating Committee at the original hearing;
(iii) that in light of new evidence the penalty imposed by the Investigating Committee is excessive in relation to the offence committed.

What happens when I submit an appeal against the decision of an ICS?

Appeals will initially be considered by the Chair and one other member of the Appeal Committee, who will consider whether you have presented grounds for appeal as listed above. If, in the view of the Chair and other member, an appeal is not made on allowable grounds, the Doctoral College will write to you to explain the reason for the decision. You will be provided with a Completion of Procedures letter at this stage.

If the Chair and other member of the Committee consider that there are grounds for appeal, the Doctoral College will make arrangements for the Appeal Committee to meet to consider the case.

What happens if my appeal is considered by the full Appeal Committee?

You will be given the opportunity to attend the Appeal Committee, either in person or via teleconference and can be accompanied by one other person. The Head of the Department responsible for the module concerned, or their nominee will also be invited to attend the meeting in order to present a response to the appeal. In some cases the Chair of the Investigating Committee which originally considered the case may be asked to attend the meeting to answer questions about the decision. All attendees will be informed of the date of the meeting and provided with copies of the papers to be considered in advance.

On the day of the meeting, the Appeals Committee (constituted of members of academic staff as set out in Regulation 11) will initially meet in private to discuss the appeal. After this initial deliberation all attendees will be invited to join the meeting. The Chair of the Committee will explain the procedure before asking you to present your appeal. The representatives from your department will then be invited to present their view. The Committee can ask questions of all attendees to clarify their understanding. When the Committee is satisfied that it has all information needed to reach a decision all attendees will be asked to leave. The Committee will then reach its decision which will be communicated to you and your department within 10 working days of the date of the meeting. You will be provided with a Completion of Procedures letter at this stage.

What decisions are available to the Appeal Committee?

The Appeal Committee can confirm or set aside the decision of the Investigating Committee, or set aside or vary the penalty imposed by the Investigating Committee.

The Appeals Committee’s decision is final. If you are not satisfied with the outcome you may be able to apply for a review of your appeal to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education (OIA) providing it is eligible under the OIA’s rules.

What is a Completion of Procedures letter?

A Completion of Procedures letter will be issued to a student when the internal complaints/appeals procedures of the University have been completed. This will set out the issues that were considered in your complaint/appeal and the University’s final decision. The Completion of Procedures letter will also explain how you can apply for a review of your complaint/appeal to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education (OIA).