What does this mean?
The University takes academic misconduct very seriously. If you have received an Academic Misconduct (AM) letter, this means that the institute is concerned that you may have breached academic integrity. Breaches can be deliberate (e.g. cheating in an exam, using tech tools/someone else to write essays) or accidental (e.g. not referencing very well). The most important thing to understand is that just because you have received the letter, it doesn’t mean the decision has been made – you have the right to challenge the charge. Here is a flowchart of the whole process - confused? make an appointment with us!
You can watch our video below which explains all about the letter - please hover the mouse over the video to toggle viewing options - side-by-side, picture-in-picture, or full screen.
Alternatively, you can just download the slide deck and transcript (pdf, 600kb) if you prefer.
What do I need to do?
If you receive a letter stating the University believes you may have been involved in academic misconduct, there are a number of steps to follow:
Step 1 - Stay Calm!
Receiving a letter does not mean that the decision has been made – you can respond before the final decision. There are many supports available to help you through this process, and to assist you in understanding your rights and responsibilities.
Step 2 - Read the letter
Read the letter, and any evidence carefully. The letter should:
- Explain the reason you have been charged with academic misconduct
- Explain what severity level it is being considered, and whether you have had a charge upheld in the past (the more severe the level, and/or the more previous charges, the more severe the penalty)
- State what penalty will be applied if the charge is upheld. The Penalty Determination Guide provides more information about how the University decides on the possible penalty for charges.
- Explain how to contest the charge
The letter you receive should include the evidence that the University has for the charge, or this may be sent separately, but at the same time. If you have not been sent any evidence, you should request this directly from the relevant appeals team:
Step 3 - Request a hearing
Attending a hearing gives you the opportunity to explain what has happened from your perspective, and the clarify the charge. It also allows you to contest the penalty completely, or request a lesser penalty. If you do not attend a hearing, the charge will be upheld and the penalty in the letter likely applied automatically. To request a hearing, simply reply to the email which sent you the letter as soon as you receive it.
Step 4 - Write a response
Your response should refer to the specific concerns that have been raised with your work and the evidence provided, and challenge them if appropriate. You can also explain any mitigating circumstances, and what you plan to do or have already done to ensure this doesn't happen again. Please read our Student Guide to Academic Misconduct Appeals and Hearings (Coming soon!) for more tips on writing a response
Step 5 - Attend a hearing
The hearing is a bit like an interview between you and the Academic Integrity Officer from your Institute. They will explain what their concerns are with your work and refer to the evidence, before giving you the opportunity to make your case and ask them questions. The Academic Integrity Officer should not refer to any evidence that has not been provided to you before the hearing - if they do, this may be grounds to appeal.
How can Student Advocacy help?
We can support you to respond to the charge by:
- Clarifying what you are being accused of and the penalty
- Advising you on your rights, and the procedures to follow
- Supporting you to write a response - we can give you some initial tips, then review a draft and give you feedback before you submit it
- Preparing you for the hearing
- Attending the hearing with you as a support person
- Helping you with any further appeals processes
It's helpful to start to think about what your response is going to be before your appointment with us. Please make some notes on what you think happened during the assessment that may have led to the charge occurring, and any questions you have for us.
Who else can help?
- Learning Skills Advisors can help you interpret a Turnitin report and marker feedback and advise you on how to improve academic writing and referencing
- The Academic Integrity Module explains key terms like plagiarism and contract cheating. This is helpful to better understand what you're being accused of, and whether the evidence you've been sent demonstrates it.
- Being accused of misconduct can be stressful and upsetting. The University offers free, confidential mental health supports, listed on the Counselling page.
- Finally, your Institute appeals team - contact them to clarify the charge and evidence if this is unclear, to arrange a hearing and to send your written response. These emails are listed in the table below.
|Institute of Health and Wellbeingemail@example.com|
|Institute of Education, Arts and Communityfirstname.lastname@example.org|
Institute of Innovation, Science & Sustainability