What are our current disciplinary processes?
Allegations of serious student misconduct are heard by a Discipline Committee comprising senior academic staff and student officers. The hearings are chaired by an academic member of the University’s Executive Board appointed by the Vice-Chancellor with a membership of three members of academic staff and two Students’ Union Sabbatical Officers who are full members of the committee appointed by the President of the Students’ Union. The Academic Members of the Committee are appointed by the Vice-Chancellor from a panel of 20 academics appointed by the University Senate on the recommendation of the Faculty Boards.
Discipline Committee Members have a good understanding of the University’s regulatory framework, the relevant discipline regulations and associated policies on equality, diversity and student wellbeing. Committee members are able to apply good analytical skills, objectivity and sound judgement to reach impartial decisions based on the merits of each case. To this end guidance and specialist briefing sessions are provided to ensure that committee members are able to carry out their duties effectively and impartially.
The decision of a Discipline Committee can only be appealed on the grounds of (a) Material irregularity or failure of procedure, (b) Evidence of prejudice or bias, (c) Relevant evidence has come to light which could not be presented at the original hearing, (d) In light of new evidence the penalty imposed was excessive. If it is agreed by the Provost that there is a prima facia case for appeal, an Appeal Committee is called to consider the case.
The structure of the Appeal Committee is the same as for a Discipline Committee and comprises three members of Academic Staff and two Student Sabbatical Officers appointed by the President of the Students’ Union, who are full members of the committee. Appeal Committees are chaired by an Academic Member of the University’s Executive Board appointed by the Vice-Chancellor. Nobody involved in the original Discipline Hearing may take part in the Appeal Hearing other than to give evidence.
Regulation 23 sets out the full version of the disciplinary process.
However, we understand that many, inside and outside the university, have called into question our processes for dealing with the kind of abhorrent behaviour we saw in the group chat. Consequently, the Council, including its Students' Union representatives, agreed unanimously on 6 February to set up a review of our student disciplinary and appeals process.
You can find our full statement on the independent review.