Guide to Ordinance XVII

Contents of this page;

Introduction

An Ordinance is a special set of regulations governing University life, which have to be agreed by the University governing body, the Council, and then confirmed at a subsequent meeting. Ordinance XVII, subtitled 'Discipline of Students' is the major element of the University's disciplinary code.

The Ordinance is split into five sections. This page deals with sections 1. (General), 4. (Action by the University pending disciplinary procedures and 5. (Misconduct which also a criminal offence). Sections 2. and 3. cover:

The purpose of this page and those on Minor and Major Offences is to give a user-friendly summary of the main points of the Ordinance. It is not intended as comprehensive guidance and those charged with any offence or seeking definitive guidance should consult the Ordinance itself.

Definitions of Misconduct

Paragraph 1.(i) contains broad definitions of the DUTIES of students as:

'in all their acts and demeanour to observe and maintain honest and peaceable behaviour at all times'

'to observe the Universities Charter, Statutes, Ordinances, Regulations and Codes of Practice.'

Paragraph 1.(ii) defines MISCONDUCT as:

behaviour which, in its broadest sense, constitutes improper interference with:

the functioning or activities of the University
those who work and study in the institution

behaviour which affects members of the public which is:

not honest or peaceable and
which damages the standing of the institution

Behaviour Off-campus

Paragraph 1.(iii) extends the University's disciplinary powers beyond the campus.

Student Discipline Committee

Paragraph 1.(iv). This Committee, composed of members of the academic staff, of the Student Union Executive and of lay (non-university) members of the governing body, operates the disciplinary system and provides the members for the disciplinary panels which hear major offence cases.

Student Disciplinary Appeals Committee

Paragraph 1.(viii). This Committee, also composed of members of the academic staff, of the Student Union Executive and of lay members of the governing body, which hears appeals against decisions made by disciplinary panels. No individual who sits on a disciplinary panel for a particular case is allowed to sit on the appeal committee for that case.

Specific Offences

Paragraph 1.(xi). There is a very wide range of behaviours which could constitute a disciplinary offence, within the definitions of misconduct given above, and examples given under the Major and Minor Offence sections. Ordinance XVII does however define a number of specific offences, which might be either Major or Minor depending on the context. These are:

  • Refusing to identify yourself to a member of University staff
  • Impersonating another student
  • Possessing or storing weapons, including knives, air rifles, and firearms without permission
  • Failure to meet with University officers to assist with their enquiries
  • Failure to attend a Hearing of a Student Disciplinary Panel as a witness or defendant if required to do so

See paragraph 1.(xi) for more detailed information.

Mental Health

Paragraph 1.(xii) says that if a student who is subject to disciplinary proceedings appears to have a mental health problem, the procedure may be halted so that he/she can seek help or advice.

Suspension and exclusion pending formal disciplinary procedures.

Paragraph 4. If it appears that a student has committed an offence and the appropriate university officer considers that he/she is likely to reoffend in the immediate future and/or represents a risk to other students, staff or to property, the student may be excluded from using a particular service or entering part of the campus on a temporary basis pending disciplinary action. The student has a right to make representations to the officer that the exclusion be lifted and formal disciplinary action must be started within a specified time or else the exclusion will lapse.

If it appears that a student has committed a serious offence which may constitute a Major Offence or against whom a criminal charge is pending or who is the subject of police investigation, he/she may be suspended from the university and/or excluded from the campus. This can only be done by the Vice-Chancellor on the recommendation of the Registrar, in accordance with Statute V(4), pending the disciplinary hearing or the trial. This power should only be used where exclusion from specified activities or facilities would be inadequate. The student has a right to make regular representations to the Vice-Chancellor that the exclusion be lifted and formal disciplinary action must be started within a specified time or else the exclusion will lapse. There is also a right of appeal against the suspension/exclusion under Statute XXIV.

A key principle is that suspension or exclusion pending a hearing must not be used as a penalty. Fuller details of the safeguards involved and precise definitions of the meaning of suspension and exclusion are given in 4.(vii) and 4.(viii) of the Ordinance. Any student who is suspended or excluded in advance of disciplinary proceedings should read paragraph 4. very carefully and seek advice from the Registrar, the LSU Student Advice Centre or an advisor with appropriate expertise.

Misconduct which is also a Criminal Offence

Paragraph 5. There is always a difficulty when the police are investigating an alleged criminal offence, especially when it is of a serious nature. In some cases it is neither practical nor desirable for the university to continue its own investigation alongside the police, or to try the case itself in advance of any criminal proceedings.

Where the offence is not serious, the university will generally defer its own investigation if any active police enquiries are continuing, and until any criminal charges have been brought to court or a caution issued. Where such an offence has been notified to the police, but is not under active investigation and charges are unlikely, the university may continue investigations and action under its own procedures. If the offence has not been notified to the police, the university may nevertheless investigate and take action under its own procedures.

For more serious offences, the university will not take any action unless the matter has been reported to the police and prosecuted. Only in exceptional circumstances will the university report an alleged crime to the police contrary to the wishes of the victim. If the victim will not report the crime to the police, or will not co-operate with their inquiries, then the university will not pursue the matter.

In the case of a successful prosecution of a serious offence the university may then take disciplinary action under its own procedures. In the case of a not-guilty verdict the university is very unlikely to take disciplinary action against the individual on the charges he has already faced in the criminal court. The ordinance also allows the Registrar discretion as to whether pursue disciplinary action for a serious offence in the circumstance that the Crown Prosecution Service had taken a decision not to prosecute. There may be circumstances in which such disciplinary action would be justified but they are likely to be rare.

Where the university does take action following a criminal conviction, the penalty imposed by the court will be taken into consideration by the university in deciding its own penalty.

Any student who is being investigated or charged in connection with an alleged criminal offence should read carefully Section 5 of the Ordinance itself, which contains the definitive statement how the university may proceed, and seek advice from the Registrar on how the University intends to proceed in their particular case.