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Student Complaints

Consultation on revised student disciplinary procedure 1 February-28 February 2019

Following on from the consultation in Easter Term 2018, the Review Committee on Discipline, which includes senior representatives from the University and Colleges, has published a draft revised Special Ordinance, Ordinance and General Board regulations relating to student discipline for Collegiate University consultation.

Responses to the consultation are welcomed from students and staff, groups and individuals and should be sent to OSCCA@admin.cam.ac.uk by 28 February 2019.

The consultation consists of the following documentation:

Response to the consultation from the Review Committee on Student Discipline

The consultation drew 229 responses from students and staff.  All of the responses were carefully considered by the  Review Committee on Discipline.  A full response to the consultation can be accessed here.

 

Consultation on student discipline 7 May 2018-22 June 2018 

Following consideration by the Review Committee on Student Discipline, a consultation of the proposed principles of a revised student discipline procedure was undertaken on 7 May 2018-22 June 2018.

The consultation consisted of the following documentation:

Responses from all members of the University were welcomed (students and staff); all comments given at the Discussion on the standard of proof on 1 May 2018 were also considered by the Review Committee.

Response from the Review Committee on Student Discipline

A consultation, conducted by the Review Committee on Student Discipline, on proposed revisions to the disciplinary process relating to students of the University was conducted between 7 May 2018 and 22 June 2018.  The consultation put forward proposals relating to revised rules of behaviour, the process by which the rules would be investigated and considered, and the principles to which any revised process should adhere. 

The consultation was an opportunity for all members and employees of the University to provide responses (staff and students), further to the representative Committees that considered the consultation papers, which included the General Board’s Education Committee and the Senior Tutors’ Committee.

The consultation drew 82 individual responses; 55 from students and student groups, and 27 from staff and staff groups.  The Review Committee also considered the 37 comments that were made during a Senate House Discussion on 1 May 2018, regarding the standard of proof that should be used in student disciplinary cases.

The responses to the consultation covered a range of topics, with some commenting only on the standard of proof and others comprehensively addressing the proposed revisions to the student disciplinary process or particular aspects of the proposals.  Several responses described personal experiences relating to sexual misconduct or the process by which sexual misconduct had been investigated.  Many of the responses were in opposition with each other regarding the approach that should be taken in relation to student discipline.  For example, out of the 109 consultation and discussion responses, 53 responses favoured the adoption of a lower standard of proof (on the balance of probabilities) and 30 favoured the retention of the current, higher standard of proof, (beyond reasonable doubt).

The Review Committee will take account of the responses in drafting a revised student disciplinary procedure.  The documentation will be subject to full consultation with students and staff prior to the publication of a Report to the Regent House.  It is expected that the consultation will take place towards the end of Michaelmas Term 2018.  It is still anticipated that a revised student disciplinary procedure will be in place for October 2019.

In revising the student disciplinary procedures, it has become apparent that a current gap exists in relation to members of the University and others, who are not students or staff, but nonetheless have access to a number of University facilities, services and events.  The Review Committee will therefore also be recommending to the Council that there should be a distinct process to enable the University to restrict access to its facilities, services and events to those people, other than students and staff, whose conduct warrants such action.  Any proposed process would be subject to the same level of consultation and scrutiny as the student disciplinary procedure.

In addition to reviewing the student disciplinary processes, the Review Committee also responded, on behalf of the University, to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator’s (OIA) consultation on a draft good practice framework chapter on student discipline, which was available from 20 June 2018 and required a response by 31 July 2018.  The OIA asked a number of specific questions regarding its draft chapter and the University’s response can be viewed here.  The OIA’s chapter on student discipline is due to be published in autumn 2018 and will be used as the basis for the University’s student disciplinary procedure.

The Review Committee also takes this opportunity to provide a list of its current members, together with its terms of reference as approved by the Council.

Membership of the Review Committee, 2018-19:

  • Professor Graham Virgo (Chair), Senior Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Education)
  • Professor Loraine Gelsthorpe, Director of the Institute of Criminology
  • Professor David Ibbetson, Faculty of Law and a former member of the panel of student legal representatives
  • Dr Mark Wormald, Secretary of the Senior Tutors’ Committee
  • Dr Louise Merrett, Chair of the Discipline Committee
  • Ms Evie Aspinall, President of CUSU
  • Ms Sofia Ropek-Hewson, President of GU
  • Mr Tim Milner, Senior Proctor
  • Dr Gemma Burgess, Junior Proctor

Officers in attendance:

  • Ms Ceri Benton (Secretary), University Draftsman
  • Dr Regina Sachers, Head of the Registrary’s Office
  • Ms Sarah d’Ambrumenil, Head of the Office of Student Conduct, Complaints & Appeals
  • Mr David Parsons, Interim Head of Legal Services

Terms of reference

  1. To review the fitness for purpose and practical operation of the disciplinary procedures, and of the interaction between those processes and the complaints and appeals processes;

  2. To consider whether an informal departmental disciplinary procedure might usefully be introduced in order to deal with less serious disciplinary matters and also to facilitate mediation in cases where there were complaints on both sides;

  3. After reviewing good practice examples from other institutions and guidance from the Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA), to make recommendations to streamline and improve the current procedures, with particular reference to the following:

    1. To ensure that the process is proportionate, with minor or straightforward matters being dealt with swiftly under a light touch process, and the full process reserved for more serious or complex cases;

    2. To ensure that the procedure can deal appropriately with a situation in which the student also alleges that she/he has grounds for a complaint;

    3. The division of roles and responsibilities for tasks associated with considering a complaint, proceeding to a hearing, and the provision of advice;

    4. To confirm that the procedure is considered exhausted at an appropriate point, giving recourse to the OIA procedures;

    5. To determine whether the same disciplinary procedures should apply to all students of the University;

    6. To ensure that lines of communication between the Department/Faculty, College, and central administrative offices are working;

    7. To ensure that students and members of Departments/Faculty have clear advice about the operation of disciplinary procedures.

Disciplinary procedures governed by the Schedule to Statute C (formerly Statute U) and student complaints procedures are out of scope. The Review Committee can however make suggestions regarding the latter, on which further consultation would be undertaken.