A section of the Assessment Regulations deals with the University's approach to Academic Misconduct. The full text is available at the current Regulation XVIII page.
What is academic misconduct?
The University defines academic misconduct as any action by a student which gives or has the potential to give them or any other student an unfair advantage in any examination or assessment, or any activity likely to undermine the integrity and academic standards essential to scholarship and research. Examples of academic misconduct include (but are not restricted to):
- Plagiarism – presenting for assessment someone else’s work or ideas as the student’s own. This includes failure to acknowledge clearly and explicitly the ideas, words, or work of another person whether these are published or unpublished.
- Self-plagiarism – submitting for assessment the same work that the student has previously submitted at Loughborough, or which has contributed to an award at any other institution, unless specific provision for this is made in the assessment brief.
- Contract cheating – engaging a third party to complete assessed work for a student who then submits it as their own. This can be where a student uses an online “essay mill” or writing service to purchase work, but it is not necessary for money to be exchanged for contract cheating to occur – e.g. it may involve a student swapping papers with another student, or a student asking a friend, colleague, or family member to write an assignment for them as a favour. Contract cheating may also occur where a student arranges to have their work copy-edited or proof-read, either commercially or by a friend, colleague, or family member, and the amendments made are so substantial that the work can no longer be considered to be the student’s own.
- Assisting another student to gain an advantage by unfair means or receiving such assistance, for example by impersonation (where arrangements are made for someone else to impersonate a student by sitting their assessment in person or remotely – this may be on the basis of a commercial contract, or may be a non-financial arrangement), or undeclared failure to contribute to group coursework.*
- Obtaining and/or distributing a copy of another student’s work without their permission.
- Falsifying or fabricating data, evidence, or experimental results in assessed work.
- Collusion – working with another student on an assessment which is intended to be the student’s own work. This includes submitting assessed work as the student’s own of which the student is not the sole author (because of the collusion with another student), or providing material which is submitted by another student as their own.
- Failing to comply with the rules for Written Examination Candidates (in Regulation VII), including possession of prohibited materials or technology during an examination, class-test, or equivalent.
- Breaches of research and ethics policies – e.g. carrying out research without appropriate permission.
* In 2022, the UK government made Essay Mills illegal. It is now a criminal offence to provide, or arrange for another person to provide, contract cheating services for financial gain to students. If you have any concerns around essay mills and/or contract cheating, or if you are unsure about good academic practice more generally, you should contact your Personal Academic Tutor, Module Leader, or your School Academic Integrity Lead for advice.
Academic misconduct procedure
Suspected incidents of academic misconduct will be defined as minor or major depending on their seriousness. Other than in exceptional circumstances, incidents occurring in an examination hall will always be treated as major.
A candidate suspected of committing a minor offence will automatically be referred for action under the major offence procedure if s/he has previously been found guilty of any offence of academic misconduct, or is suspected of an offence in more than one assessed element of his/her programme.
Any circumstances which appear to suggest that a candidate has committed a minor act of academic misconduct will be reported to the Chair and Secretary of the Minor Academic Misconduct Committee for the School responsible for the module in question, who will decide whether any action should be taken under the Minor Offence procedure. If so, the candidate will be informed in writing. The candidate will be invited to admit or deny the allegation, and permitted to defend themselves in writing and/or in person, accompanied by an individual of their own choosing.
Having taken into account the evidence and the defence, if any, the Minor Academic Misconduct Committee will decide whether the candidate is guilty of the offence, and if so, what penalty should be imposed. The candidate will be notified in writing of the Minor Academic Misconduct Committee's decision.
Candidates found guilty of minor offences will have the right of appeal against the decision of the Minor Academic Misconduct Committee on specified grounds.
Major offences will be considered by the University's Academic Misconduct Committee.
Candidates will be notified in writing of alleged major offences by the Secretary of the Academic Misconduct Committee. Candidates may submit a written defence and any other written evidence, attend the Committee meeting in person accompanied by an individual of their own choosing and call witnesses.
Having taken into account the evidence and the defence, if any, the Committee will decide whether the candidate is guilty of the offence, and if so, what penalty should be imposed. The candidate will be notified in writing of the Committee's decision.
Candidates found guilty of major offences will have the right to appeal against the decision of the Academic Misconduct Committee on specified grounds.
Potential penalties for academic misconduct
Where a candidate is found guilty of a minor offence, the Minor Academic Misconduct Committee may impose one or more of the following penalties:
- The issue of a formal reprimand.
- The reduction by any amount of any or all of the marks obtained by the candidate in the module concerned.
Where a candidate is found guilty of a major offence, the Academic Misconduct Committee may impose one or more of the following penalties:
- The issue of a formal reprimand.
- The reduction by any amount of any or all of the marks obtained by the candidate in any module in the current part of the candidate's programme.
- The withdrawal of reassessment rights in any module in the current part of the candidate's programme.
- To set a cap on any mark achieved by the candidate on reassessment in any module in the current part of the candidate's programme.
- The immediate termination of the candidate's studies.
- In exceptional circumstances, where a student is found guilty of a first offence of academic misconduct in relation to a module undertaken on a second attempt basis, the Committee may permit the student to resubmit the work in which academic misconduct was found, at the next available opportunity, with the aim of achieving the minimum level of performance to allow progression (in which case the mark for the work will be capped at that minimum level).
Students found guilty of either minor or major offences shall have the right of appeal against the decision taken and/or penalties imposed by the Minor Academic Misconduct Committee or the University’s Academic Misconduct Committee. Possible grounds for appeal include:
- That there were serious circumstances affecting the student of which the Academic Misconduct Committee was not made aware when the decision was taken.
- That there were procedural irregularities in the conduct of the investigation.
- That there is evidence of prejudice or bias against the student on the part of one or more of those involved in the case.
- That the penalty imposed disproportionate to the offence.
Making an appeal
If you wish to appeal and you think you have grounds to do so as set out above, you must complete the Academic Misconduct Appeal form. This should be sent with any supporting evidence to the Secretary to the Academic Misconduct Appeals Committee via email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by post to the address provided at the end of the form.
Appeals must normally be submitted within 10 working days of the date on which the student was informed of the outcome of the academic misconduct meeting. Your completed appeal form should explain the grounds for, and the nature of, the appeal, and you should ensure that you have provided any supporting evidence. The Secretary to the Academic Misconduct Appeals Committee may request further information or evidence from you before initial consideration is given to your case.
Appeals against minor offences will be reviewed by the Chair of the Academic Misconduct Appeals Committee. The Chair may confirm, set aside or amend the decision of the Minor Academic Misconduct Committee and may confirm, increase or decrease the penalty imposed. The Chair shall convey his/her decision in writing to the student within 15 working days of receipt of the complete appeal documentation from the student by the Secretary to the Academic Misconduct Appeals Committee.
Students found guilty of major offences have the right of appeal to the Academic Misconduct Appeals Committee which comprises:
- one Associate Dean (Teaching) who shall act as Chair;
- one experienced member of staff who is/has been a Director of Studies;
- one member of the Loughborough Students’ Union executive;
- one member of Academic Registry staff to act as Secretary to the Academic Misconduct Appeals Committee.
The Academic Misconduct Appeals Committee may confirm, set aside or amend the decision of the Academic Misconduct Committee and may confirm, increase or decrease any penalty imposed. The student shall be informed of the decision and the reasons for it in writing within 3 working days of the meeting.