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Student Complaints

The University maintains regulations on discipline which can be found at http://www.admin.cam.ac.uk/univ/so/2016/chapter02-section19.html

These regulations of the University apply to all members of the University to maintain good order and discipline:

  1. No member of the University shall intentionally or recklessly disrupt or impede or attempt to disrupt or impede the activities and functions of the University, or any part thereof, or of any College.
  2. No member of the University shall intentionally or recklessly impede freedom of speech or lawful assembly within the Precincts of the University. No member of the University shall intentionally or recklessly fail to give any notice which is required to be given to a University officer or a University authority under the terms of a code of practice issued under the provisions of section 43 of the Education (No. 2) Act 1986.
  3. No member of the University shall intentionally occupy or use any property of the University or of any College except as may be expressly or by implication authorized by the University or College authorities concerned.
  4. No member of the University shall intentionally or recklessly damage or deface or knowingly misappropriate any property of the University or of any College.
  5. No member of the University shall intentionally or recklessly endanger the safety, health, or property of any member, officer, or employee of the University within the Precincts of the University.
  6. (a) No member of the University shall engage in the harassment of:
    • (i) a member, officer, or employee of the University or a College; or
    • (ii) any other person where the harassment takes place either within the Precincts of the University or in the course of a University or College activity
    • b) Harassment shall include single or repeated incidents involving unwanted and unwarranted conduct towards another person which is reasonably likely to have the effect of (i) violating that other’s dignity or (ii) creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating, or offensive environment for that other.
  7. No candidate shall make use of unfair means in any University examination. Unfair means shall include plagiarism (submitting as one's own work, irrespective of intent to deceive, that which derives in part or in its entirety from the work of others without due acknowledgement) and, unless such possession is specifically authorized, the possession of any book, paper or other material relevant to the examination. No member of the University shall assist a candidate to make use of such unfair means.
  8. No member of the University shall forge or falsify or knowingly make improper use of any degree certificate or other document attesting to academic achievement, or knowingly make false statements concerning standing or concerning results in examinations.
  9. All members of the University shall comply with any instruction given by a University officer, or by any other person authorized to act on behalf of the University, in the proper discharge of his or her duties.
  10. All members of the University shall state their names and the Colleges to which they belong when asked by a Proctor or Pro-Proctor, or by any other person in authority in the University or in any of the Colleges in the University.
  11. Regulations 1–10 above, the regulations for the initiation of proceedings under these regulations, the regulations for motor vehicles, and the regulations for bicycles and boats, shall apply to persons in statu pupillari who have not matriculated as if such persons were members of the University.

Alleged breaches of these regulations will be treated seriously and this webpage provides some basic information regarding the University's discipline procedure.  For further information about the procedure, please contact the Office of Student Conduct, Complaints and Appeals (OSCCA) at studentcomplaints@admin.cam.ac.uk or 01223 765440.  You can also receive independent advice regarding any University procedure from the Students' Unions' Advice Service, a team of professional advisors offering free confidential advice.  You can find their contact details here: www.studentadvice.cam.ac.uk.

Q. I want to report a breach of the discipline regulations

Any member of the University can make a complaint about the behaviour of a student if they believe that a student has committed a breach of the University’s discipline regulations.  You may also wish to consider the relevant College’s discipline procedures.

If you are considering making a complaint, you should first discuss this with somebody. This might be your College Tutor or Director of Studies; your supervisor; a contact in the Faculty or Department; a CUSU officer; or the Student Unions’ Advice Service. Following this, any complaints should be made to studentcomplaints@admin.cam.ac.uk.

Q. What happens when an allegation is made?

Any complaint that a student has breached the University’s Disciplinary regulations will first be referred to the University Advocate who will consider whether to investigate. As part of any investigation, the Advocate may wish to separately meet the complainant, the student being complained about and any other parties involved.

The Advocate will decide whether the case should proceed to the University Discipline Committee with a charge being brought. The Advocate will not progress a case if:

  • the name of the person against whom a complaint is made is not specified;
  • the evidence is not sufficient to make a decision; or
  • the complaint is vexatious, frivolous or trivial.

If a case is progressed to the Discipline Committee the student being complained about will receive all of the information that will be considered by the Committee. The student will be provided with the opportunity to submit a written response to this information and have the opportunity to provide witnesses willing to support any element of their response.

The Discipline Committee is made up of five members of the University, including a Chairperson who is either legally qualified or has judicial experience.  Members are sought from specified panels maintained by the Council and may include two students.

If a hearing of the Committee is held in private, only certain people shall be able to attend. They are:

  • the respondent;
  • the respondent’s representative;
  • the respondent’s Tutor;
  • the Head of the respondent’s College;
  • the University Advocate (or appointed representative);
  • the complainant (if also a witness for the University Advocate, shall only be permitted to be present after statement has been made);
  • the complainant’s representative (as above)
  • the Panel, and Secretary and Assistant Secretary.

Q. I am a complainant. Will I need to attend a meeting/hearing?

You are entitled to be present at any hearing of the Discipline Committee where you are the complainant, whether that hearing is to be held in public or private. However, if you are a witness for the University Advocate, you shall not be permitted to be present until you have made your statement.  If you choose not to attend, the hearing will still take place.

Q. A complaint has been made against me. Will I need to attend a meeting/hearing?

You, and your representative, will be invited to attend a hearing of the Discipline Committee. It is expected and recommended that you attend but if you decide not to, the hearing will still take place. You may wish for your representative to attend without you.

Before the hearing, you will be able to choose the composition of the Committee, though not the individual members. This shall either be the Chair plus four members of the Regent House or the Chair plus two members of the Regent House and two students. You will subsequently be informed of the proposed membership of the Committee and provided the opportunity to object to any of the members (objections will only be allowed for good reason and will be decided by the Chair of the Committee).

The hearing is normally held privately. However, you have the option for the hearing to be open for members of the University to attend.

Q. What happens at a Discipline Committee?

An approximate guide as to the order of a hearing is as follows:

  1. Introduction of everyone in attendance
  2. Allegations and potential breach of discipline is confirmed
  3. The Advocate presents the case against the student (Panel can ask questions)
  4. The respondent or representative presents a response to the case (Panel can ask questions)
  5. The Advocate’s witnesses, if any, give a statement and can be asked questions by the Panel, student or student’s representative
  6. The respondent witnesses, if any, give a statement and can be asked questions by the Panel, student or student’s representative
  7. A summary statement by the Advocate
  8. A summary statement by the student or representative
  9. Panel meets privately to discuss the evidence and make a decision
  10. Hearing resumes: the Panel’s decision is confirmed

If the Panel determines that a breach of the University’s disciplinary regulations has occurred, the hearing will continue as follows:

  1. Advocate statement regarding penalty
  2. Respondent’s representative statement regarding penalty.
  3. Committee retires to consider penalty.
  4. Committee resumes: penalty announced.
  5. Chair rules on right or otherwise of appeal and on publication or otherwise of student’s name in the Reporter.

The Discipline Committee shall only take action in instances where they are satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the University’s Disciplinary regulations have been breached.

Q. What are the possible outcomes of the Discipline Committee?

Where a breach is found to have occurred, the Discipline Committee can impose any of the following on that person:

  • deprivation or suspension of membership of the University, or of BA status;
  • deprivation or suspension of degree, disqualification from admission to a degree;
  • rustication (suspension of studies and exclusion from residence);
  • deprivation of the right to use University premises or facilities;
  • an order to pay compensation.

Q. Can I appeal the Discipline Committee's decision?

The student who has been considered by the Discipline Committee can appeal the decision within 28 days of the date of being notified of the Discipline Committee's decision. If an appeal is made after this deadline, it will only be considered if it is in the interests of justice and fairness to do so.

Any appeal should be addressed to the Registrary’s Office at registrarysoffice@admin.cam.ac.uk.

An appeal will be heard by the University’s appeal committee called the Septemviri; a hearing will take place and you and a representative will be invited to attend.  The Septimviri will have access to all of the information available to the Discipline Committee.

The University of Cambridge subscribes to the independent scheme for the review of student complaints. If you are dissatisfied with the outcome of the Septemviri you may be able to apply for review of your case to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education (OIA). Such an application should be received by the OIA within twelve months of the University’s outcome letter. The OIA’s leaflet, An Introduction to the OIA for Students, can be downloaded from their website: http://www.oiahe.org.uk/media/34396/oia_intro_leaflet.pdf and a link to the OIA Complaint Form is available on page 10.