C1.2.7 The Conduct Procedure

  • A diagram of the overall procedure and a table of timescales are provided in the Appendices. 

  • 7.1.1 All staff or students who become aware of a potential breach of these regulations should report the matter to the relevant Conduct Officer or the Student Investigation and Resolution Team. This should be done as soon as possible, and preferably within 5 working days of the discovery of the potential breach. A Student Conduct Report form can be submitted to the relevant team. 

    7.1.2 Breaches reported more than two months after the date of the incident will not normally be investigated unless a valid reason, supported by evidence, is given. If the report is made on behalf of someone else affected by the alleged misconduct, it may be necessary to seek permission from that person to proceed. Advice about whether to report the behaviour/incident to external organisations, e.g. the police, can be sought from the Student Welfare Team, or Brookes Union Advice Service. People submitting a report are expected to understand the regulations, procedure and potential outcomes.

    7.1.3 For breaches occurring in accommodation associated with the University, the relevant Conduct Officer is usually the Residence Manager, Hall Warden or other Hall staff.

    7.1.4 For potential breaches occurring during an examination, the relevant Conduct Officer is usually the Head of Examinations.

    7.1.5 Potential breaches occurring outside of University accommodation or examinations should be referred to the Student Investigation and Resolution Team.

    7.1.6 Based on the report and any information or evidence, the relevant Conduct Officer or the Student Investigation and Resolution Team will first assess whether the case is appropriate and eligible for any of the following:

    • investigation by a conduct officer under these regulations,
    • referral to a Suspension Officer, because suspension or other precautionary action may be necessary 
    • application of the Fixed Penalty Policy, 
    • referral to another University procedure e.g. Fitness to Study, 
    • referral to an external organisation, e.g. the Police.
    7.2.1 Student Investigation and Resolution Team or the Conduct Officer will assess whether an investigation should be carried out, based on the scope of these regulations as described in the ‘Scope’ section, paragraphs 2.1 and 2.2 and the exclusions below.  They will write to the reported student to let them know the outcome within 10 working days of receiving the report.

    7.3.1 The following will not normally be considered under these regulations: 

    1. Reports raised anonymously. While the University will endeavour to explore such issues as far as is possible, any investigation, and the outcomes of any investigation, will be conducted and implemented entirely at the University’s discretion;
    2. Reports about applicants to, or former students of the University, where the University would have no authority to investigate or penalise;
    3. Civil disputes that are more appropriate for external dispute resolution, e.g. financial disputes between individuals;
    4. Disputes between individuals where alternative dispute resolution, e.g. mediation, hall meetings, has not already been sought or attempted;
    5. Subsequent reports where the content is substantially similar to reports already considered, unless significant new information is provided;
    6. Behaviour that does not satisfy eligibility for these regulations because it does not fall into the categories listed in 1.3 of these regulations.

    7.3.2 The Conduct Officer or the Student Investigation and Resolution Team may write to the reporting person to inform them whether the case has progressed to an investigation, or if the report cannot be progressed under these regulations. 

    7.3.3 If the case has not progressed to an investigation, the Conduct Officer or the Student Investigation and Resolution Team may choose to write to the student who has been reported, to let them know concerns have been raised about their behaviour. 

    7.3.4 If it has been confirmed a report can proceed to an investigation, the case will be referred to a Conduct Officer(s) to carry out the investigation. Where the alleged misconduct may constitute a criminal office the case may be referred to two specially trained Conduct Officers. 

    7.4.1 The Conduct Officer(s) shall carry out an initial investigation at their discretion but following the principles of procedural fairness. Investigations may include interviews, gathering evidence, speaking to witnesses and preparing an investigation report.

    7.4.2 On conclusion of the investigation the Conduct Officer(s) may decide to take one or more of the following actions:

    • Refer the matter to the University Police Liaison Officer with a recommendation that it be reported to the police;
    • Refer the matter to a Suspension Officer to assess whether suspension or other precautionary action is required;
    • Refer the matter to be heard by the University Conduct Committee;
    • Conduct a conduct interview with the reported student;
    • Give a fixed penalty as outlined in the Fixed Penalty Policy (Appendix B);
    • Decide there is no case to answer.

    7.4.3 The Conduct Officer(s) will notify the reported student in writing of the outcome of the investigation within 15 working days of receiving the referral. 

    7.5.1 The Conduct Officer(s) will write to the reported student giving full details of the alleged breach, and giving at least 5 working days’ notice of the conduct interview. 

    7.5.2 The exact arrangements will be organised by the Conduct Officer(s). All students will have the right to:

    • be accompanied by someone who is not acting in a legal capacity. This person can be a friend, colleague or a relation, but should not have been involved in the circumstances/incident;
    • make representations/comments about any procedural issues;
    • hear the case and ask about the detailed allegations made against them;
    • access all available evidence against them, excluding advice that is legally privileged, or information that is confidential and not directly relevant to the allegations made in the case;
    • State their case, including liability and mitigation;
    • Provide evidence and witness testimony;
    • question any witnesses and challenge any submissions made and/or evidence produced by the Conduct Officer(s).

    7.5.3 The Conduct Officer(s) may be accompanied by a note-taker during the conduct interview.

    7.5.4 On occasion, the Conduct Officer(s) may adjourn and reconvene the conduct interview for example, if more information is required.

    7.5.5 At the end of the Conduct Interview, the Conduct Officer(s) will normally state their decision as to whether there has been a breach of these regulations, and impose a penalty appropriate to the breach up to and including 4.11.7. The maximum fine which a Conduct Officer can impose is £100 and the maximum period of unpaid community service is 10 hours.

    7.5.6 Alternatively, if the Conduct Officer(s) considers that the matter may constitute a major breach of these regulations, they may refer the case to a University Conduct Committee. 

    7.5.7 The reported student will receive written confirmation of the decision, any penalty and an explanation of the appeal process where applicable within 5 working days from the date of the Conduct Interview and within 25 working days of the referral to the Conduct Officer.  

    7.6.1 The Secretary to the University Conduct Committee will write to the reported student giving at least 10 working days’ notice of the meeting of the University Conduct Committee.

    7.6.2 The University Conduct Committee membership will normally consist of the following:

    • A Chair (A trained member of Senior Staff)
    • A member of the Student Investigation and Resolution Team 
    • A representative of the student body

    7.6.3 A member of the Student Investigation and Resolution Team or nominee will act as Secretary to the Committee. Committee members will not normally have already been involved with the case or reported student. 

    7.6.4 The University Conduct Committee will allow:

    The Conduct Officer:

    • to state the University’s case and provide relevant evidence, including testimony from witnesses, question any witnesses and challenge any submissions made and/or evidence produced by the reported student
    • to state their recommendation for the outcome of the University Conduct Committee

    The reported student: 

    • to state their case and provide relevant evidence, including testimony from witnesses, question any witnesses and challenge any submissions or evidence produced by the Conduct Officer. Questions shall normally be directed via the Chair of the Committee;
    • to be accompanied by a friend, colleague or a legal representative acting in a legal capacity (See paragraph 6.8).  This person should not have been involved in the circumstances/incident. 

    Members of the Committee: 

    • to question the Conduct Officer, the reported student and any witnesses and clarify any evidence or statements produced by either party.

    7.6.5 The Conduct Officer will consider whether it is appropriate for the reporting person to be present during the Committee or just to rely on written statements, taking into account the impact on the people involved and on the procedure. The Committee and reported student will be informed in advance if the reporting person will attend.

    7.6.6 The University Conduct Committee will normally state its decision as to whether there has been a breach of the regulations and any penalty during the meeting. Any mitigation will be taken into account when deciding upon a penalty.

    7.6.7 The University Conduct Committee may impose the full range of penalties.

    7.6.8 On occasion, a decision may be taken to adjourn and reconvene the Committee, for example, if more information is required.

    7.6.9 The reported student will receive an outcome letter explaining the decision, any penalty and next steps within 5 working days of the University Conduct Committee.

    7.7.1 Where the reported student is:

    • found to be in minor breach of these regulations by the Conduct Officer and is dissatisfied with the outcome of a conduct interview, penalty or procedure

    or, 

    • found to be in breach of these regulations at the University Conduct Committee and is dissatisfied with the outcome, penalty or procedure,

    they may request that their case is heard by a University Appeal Committee.

    7.7.2 To do this, the reported student must write to the Student Investigation and Resolution Team. This request must be within 10 working days from the date of the outcome letter and must state which aspect of the decision, penalty or procedure they disagree with and on which of the following grounds:

    7.7.2.1 the student would like to present new evidence that they could not have reasonably produced before the conduct interview

    7.7.2.2 there was a procedural irregularity 

    7.7.2.3 the decision regarding liability was not fairly or reasonably made

    7.7.2.4 the penalty is unfairly disproportionate to the breach of these regulations.

    7.7.3 The Student Investigation and Resolution Team may do one of the following:

    • require clarification of the request, or further documentation before proceeding
    • not permit the reported student to go to a University Appeal Committee, if: the request is late and a valid, substantiated reason for the late submission is not provided; or one or more of the grounds set out above has not been met
    • convene an Appeal Committee.

    7.7.4 The reported student will be informed of the decision within 10 working days.

    7.7.5 A reported student who believes that the decision not to permit the case to go to a University Conduct Committee is inappropriate may request that the decision be reviewed by the Academic Registrar or nominee.

    7.7.6 A reported student who wishes to do so must write to the Student Investigation and Resolution Team, setting out the reasons why they believe the decision was inappropriate within 10 working days of the decision.

    7.7.7 If the Academic Registrar or nominee upholds the decision, they will issue the reported student with a Completion of Procedures Letter within 10 working days of receipt of the request.  If the Academic Registrar overturns the decision, the case shall be referred to an Appeal Committee.

    7.8.1 The Secretary to the Appeal Committee will write to the reported student giving at least 10 working days’ notice of the meeting of the Appeal Committee.

    7.8.2 The Appeal Committee membership will normally consist of:

    • A Chair (a trained member of Senior Staff)
    • Academic Registrar (or nominee) 
    • A representative of the student body.

    7.8.3 Members of the Appeal Committee must not have been involved with the case previously and must be trained in these regulations.  

    7.8.4 A member of the Student Investigation and Resolution Team or nominee will act as Secretary to the Appeal Committee.  

    7.8.5 The reported student and the Chair of the University Conduct Committee, or the investigating Conduct Officer have the right to attend.

    7.8.6 Unless otherwise determined by the Chair of the Appeal Committee, the appeal shall take the form of a review of the decision of the University Conduct Committee or Conduct Officer.  This means that the Appeal Committee shall normally only consider issues raised in the appeal by the reported student. The Committee will allow: 

    The reported student:

    • to state the grounds of their appeal, provide relevant evidence and challenge any submissions made by the Chair of the University Conduct Committee 
    • to be accompanied by a friend, colleague or legal representative acting in a legal capacity (See paragraph 6.8). This person should not have been involved in the circumstances/incident or be called as a witness 

    The Chair of the University Conduct Committee:

    • to state their response to the grounds of appeal 
    • challenge any submissions made and/or evidence produced by the reported student. 

    Members of the Appeal Committee: 

    • to question the reported student and the Chair of the University Conduct Committee and clarify any evidence or statements produced by either party.

    7.8.7 Questions from the reported student or Chair of the University Conduct Committee will normally be directed through the Chair of the Appeal Committee. 

    7.8.8 The Appeal Committee will normally state its decision as to whether to allow or dismiss the appeal at the hearing. The Appeal Committee may uphold the decision of the University Conduct Committee or the Conduct Officer, refer the case back to the University Conduct Committee or to a new Conduct Officer for a fresh hearing, or reach a different outcome and/or impose an alternative penalty.

    7.8.9 The Appeal Committee may impose the full range of penalties.

    7.8.10 On occasion, a decision may be taken to adjourn and reconvene the Appeal Committee, for example, if more information or evidence is required.

    7.8.11 The reported student will receive an outcome letter explaining the decision, penalty and next steps within 5 working days of the Appeal Committee. 

    7.8.12 If the reported student is still dissatisfied with the outcome, they may be able to refer the issue as a complaint to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education (OIA) providing that it is eligible under the OIA’s Rules.  The outcome letter shall comply with the OIA’s guidance for a “Completion of Procedures” letter.