LSU Advice is independent from the University and available to support both taught and research students if you are worried about academic misconduct or have received a notification of allegation, regardless of whether you intend to admit or deny the offence.
Academic misconduct refers to a number of activities which fail to comply with exam rules or assessment conduct. For instance, these might be taking materials into an exam which are not allowed, not referencing properly within coursework, ‘making-up’ data for assessments, or having someone else do part or all of your assessment (regardless of whether this is in exchange for money or not). Incidents where students are suspected of breaking these rules will be considered as Minor or Major offences, for which the processes and outcomes differ.
If you are struggling with your studies and are worried about committing any form of misconduct, please contact us. There is always a better solution if you are struggling and we can direct you to support available and advise on extensions and mitigating circumstances claims that might help. We are a confidential service you can come and chat to before making any decisions, and without repercussion from the University.
Our support can include:
- Discussing your situation with you and answering questions or concerns about the process
- Reviewing two drafts of your response to the committee (one in depth, and a second final check)
- Helping to prepare you for the meeting if you choose to attend or participate virtually
- Attending the meeting with you
Every case is different and the process can vary, especially for researchers so it is important to receive personalised advice. Students based on the Loughborough campus should email firstname.lastname@example.org, and Loughborough London students should email email@example.com as soon as possible after receiving your allegation and with as much information about your case as possible.
Frequently Asked Questions
You have the right to respond to the allegation and can do this in writing and in person at the scheduled meeting. If you are attending the meeting, you can have someone accompany you and call any relevant witnesses.
There are unreputable and unsafe companies that capitalise on students in difficult situations, selling essay services that when discovered by the University will put students’ degrees at risk. These same companies often go on to blackmail students and may extort students facing misconduct allegations. You have the right to free, independent and confidential advice.
Processes vary from University to University and LSU Advice has permanent staff who have extensive experience of Loughborough processes who are best placed to provide this support.
A written response is your opportunity to provide any explanation and/or mitigating circumstances that you would like the committee to be aware of and consider. This should be sent to the Committee’s secretary ahead of the meeting and by the deadline stated in your allegation letter. Ahead of the meeting, the Committee will read this and your response may also be shared with any other students involved if it is a case of suspected collusion. You can request that any sensitive or personal information you disclose is not shared with any other student involved.
We strongly encourage you to provide a written response for the Committee to consider. The benefits are that you are able to spend time collecting your thoughts and putting together a considered response, and also that you can receive feedback from LSU Advice.
If you are not able to, or, do not want to attend the meeting, your written response becomes even more important in addressing the allegation.
An advisor from LSU Advice can review up to two drafts of your response, giving feedback and suggestions on what you would like to present to the committee.
Whether you decide to provide a written response, attend the meeting to respond in person, or both, we recommend that you provide an honest response. This means that if you are guilty of the offence, even if you have just technically breached the rules, it is better to admit to it, equally do not admit to something you didn’t do because you feel it will look better to the committee, it is OK to deny it if it is the truth.
This does not mean that there will be no penalty if you are admitting the offence, but dishonesty and a failure to appreciate the severity of the offence is likely to aggravate the outcome. Providing honest and helpful responses mean that the committee can decide an appropriate outcome, consider your circumstances, and see how they can best support you.
If you have received an allegation of a technical offence/infringement and have been offered the opportunity to accept a formal warning – we encourage you to do so. This will not appear on any academic transcripts but will be noted on your internal student records in case a similar offence was to happen again, in which case the penalty would be more severe.
- Admit or deny – Clearly state this and consider whether you feel any rules have been broken, and whether this was intentional or accidental.
- Explain the circumstances around the alleged offence. You should have been provided with evidence of the offence, so do look to this to better understand the University’s concerns. You should explain whether you knew this was an offence and if you now understand where things may have gone wrong. It can sometimes be helpful and relevant to explain how you produced the piece of work or explain whether you worked with any other student/person mentioned.
- If you feel that there were mitigating circumstances that prompted the offence to come about you can explain these too. If you wish for mitigating circumstances to be considered, you must submit evidence as well as a copy of any draft or submitted mitigating circumstance claim.
- You can also explain anything else that you wish the panel to consider. (for instance: is it the first assignment of this type/length that you have completed, if you have not received referencing training from your School, are you new to studying in the UK, or if your Undergraduate degree in another University operated with a different system).
- If appropriate, briefly apologise and outline any steps you are taking to improve your academic practice for the future.
- You should also include whether you will be attending the meeting, and if you will be taking anyone with you. If you are receiving advice from an LSU advisor, you can also ask that they be copied into future emails.
- You should include everything that you wish to be considered, however in most circumstances letters are no longer than a page of A4 in length.
This will vary from case to case, and some students will not submit evidence. An LSU Advisor can discuss your situation with you, and what is likely to be helpful.
The following can sometimes be helpful: saved drafts of your work, reference or planning notes, screenshots of chats or emails (these must be in English).
If you are trying to evidence circumstances that were beyond your control which you felt may have caused the incident to come about, you will need to submit and provide a copy of any mitigating circumstance claim.
Evidence must be officially translated (signed and stamped by an independent translator). The translation and original should be provided to the committee, which they have the authority to check. If you search for ‘certified translation services online’ you will find several companies to choose from who provide translation for a fairly small fee.
It is better to submit no evidence than to make some up. Submitting fraudulent evidence will be discovered and will bring a subsequent disciplinary allegation.
Any evidence should be submitted alongside your response to the secretary by the deadline stated in your allegation letter.
The meeting is an opportunity for the committee to find out more about the case, and come to a decision on whether an offence has occurred, whether it was intentional and whether you gained or allowed someone else to gain an unfair advantage.
Importantly, it is also your opportunity to answer any questions that the committee have about your response letter, or anything else about the alleged offence.
TOP TIPS - Arrive on time, try to approach the meeting calmly, be honest, and do ask if you do not understand something!
You will have received an email/letter from the committee, stating where the meeting is, the time you must arrive, and members of staff confirmed to attend.
If you have an allegation of minor academic misconduct, the meeting will normally be held within your School, usually within a staff office. Typically, there will be around 4-5 members of staff present who should introduce themselves and their role on the panel at the beginning.
For an allegation of major academic misconduct, the meeting will be held in a room within one of the University buildings by the fountain. A representative from your School may also attend to answer any subject specific questions the Committee may have.
At either a minor or major level, if the allegation relates to collusion, all students involved will usually be in the meeting to ensure all the information is available to each student. If you have sensitive or personal information that you wish to make the Committee aware of, but do not wish to share with any other student, you may request to do so at the end of the meeting.
The Committee will explain the allegation and the evidence against you, and ask you to explain your response. They will also ask you other questions to establish if an offence has occurred and what your intent was. You will be given the opportunity to add anything else to the discussion.
Once the Committee is satisfied that they have the information they need to make a decision, you will be asked to leave the meeting. They will then reach a decision regarding the allegation, and if you are deemed guilty of academic misconduct, decide a suitable penalty. It is unlikely that you will receive the outcome immediately, this is usually given within 3 working days via email.
This will only be relevant in some cases, so you do not necessarily need to worry if you don’t have any witnesses. An LSU Advisor can discuss the relevance and helpfulness of this with you.
Most students are OK to attend the meeting by themselves. We do receive enquiries from students wondering whether they should take: a friend, family member, or someone from LSU Advice.
An LSU Advisor tends to be the most helpful person to bring with you as we know the University processes and will likely have supported you closely with your response. We can monitor that the meeting is in line with University processes, rephrase any tricky questions you are asked, take notes for you and can prompt you if you have missed an important part of your response.
Your advisor will let you know if they feel it might be helpful for them to come with you, but if you particularly would like them to then please let them know in good time.
If you would like a friend to go with you to the meeting, it might be helpful to explain to them how you would like to be supported during the meeting, ahead of time. Most students find that just having a familiar face next to them is enough.
We also understand that family members might want to come to the meeting with you. If you decide to take a friend or family member, you should explain that they cannot speak on your behalf and should sit quietly during the meeting unless you need their help or comfort. You could also ask your friend or family member to wait outside the meeting, if you do not want them to be present throughout – so that you can go for a drink or snack afterwards to relax.
Occasionally, students ask us whether they need a lawyer to support them, or whether they can take a translator. An academic misconduct allegation is not a legal process, and so a lawyer is unlikely to be specifically helpful but is permitted. If you are concerned about your English language in the meeting, please raise this with the secretary of the meeting to see if bringing a translator is necessary/appropriate.
We suggest taking a printed copy of your response letter, and (if relevant) a copy of the Turnitin report that you have been sent. The committee will have their own copy of this, so it might be helpful to have your own for reference.
You might also want to prepare a few bullet points ahead of the meeting. These do not need to repeat your response letter (which should include everything that you wish to be considered) but can help guide you if you get confused during the meeting.
The meeting does not have a dress code. We recommend wearing something that you feel comfortable in but is still appropriate for meeting with University staff.
Unfortunately, if your deadline for response has passed, or the meeting has already been held then you will be unable to submit a letter and the meeting cannot be reconvened. You will be informed of the committee’s decision, usually within 3 working days via email.
It may be appropriate to submit an appeal following the decision therefore please contact us for advice in this situation.
You will not be penalised if you cannot attend the meeting. You may request to participate via Microsoft Teams and should ask the Committee’s secretary if this would be possible. No one can attend the meeting on your behalf.
Where a student is found guilty of a minor offence, one or more of the following penalties may apply:
- The issue of a formal reprimand (a formal warning).
- The reduction by any amount of any or all of the marks obtained in the module concerned.
Where a student is found guilty of a major offence, one or more of the following penalties may apply:
- The issue of a formal reprimand.
- The reduction by any amount of any or all of the marks obtained by in any module in the current part of your programme.
- The withdrawal of reassessment rights in any module in the current part of your programme.
- To set a cap on any mark achieved on reassessment in any module in the current part of your programme.
- The immediate termination of your studies.
- In exceptional circumstances, if you are found guilty of a first offence of academic misconduct in relation to a module undertaken on a second attempt basis, the Committee may permit you 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).
A formal reprimand is essentially a written warning. It stays on your student record whilst at Loughborough but would not appear on your transcript when graduating.
A formal reprimand would mean that a second offence would be considered as a major offence and the outcomes could be more severe.
At the end of the meeting and once you have left (if you attend), the committee will consider all of the evidence alongside any responses you have provided (including mitigating circumstances if evidence has been provided). They will then decide whether you are guilty, and if so, what the appropriate penalty would be. In doing so, they will also consider the circumstances around it and the extent to which you sought to get (or give) an unfair advantage.
You will receive the outcome within 3 working days via email. You will be made aware of your right to appeal (and have a strict 10 working days to do so). If necessary, you should check with your school what your reassessment rights are and the impact of the outcome on your future studies. We can support by reviewing a draft of your appeal form for you provided you send this to us in good time before the deadline.
Turnitin is a text matching software, rather than plagiarism detection – text will be matched regardless of whether it is referenced or not. It is one of many approaches used by the University to help identify where academic misconduct has taken place and to identify the source of matched text.
If text has been matched and you have not clearly referenced it using a citation and “quotation marks” then this will constitute an allegation of plagiarism.
A very low Turnitin score can also indicate a case where a student may have contact cheated and had someone else complete their work for them.
Academic misconduct can be avoided by choice and seeking or giving an unfair advantage in any way will put your degree at risk and is never the answer to any situation.
You should make use of the University’s resources and support. If you are struggling with personal circumstances you should seek help from the Student Wellbeing & Inclusivity service. If you are struggling with your studies and this is impacting your wellbeing in any way, you should submit a Mitigating Circumstance claim (LSU Advice can help with this) and also contact your personal tutor.
It is your responsibility to ensure you have a sound grasp of referencing, if you are unsure how to reference you should contact your personal tutor or academic librarian for advice.
You should ensure you know what the exam hall rules are, and that you thoroughly check that you only have authorised items with you for the exam, and as soon as you initially sit down, before the exam has started. Any materials not permitted will be removed from you and not replaced, including unapproved calculators. You will not be penalised if you alert an invigilator to your mistake before the start of the exam.
For remote assessments, you should consult the University guidance which you can find here.
It is important the University are made aware of these situations so they can take appropriate action and support students involved if they are struggling with their studies or wellbeing. Speak to LSU Advice for guidance on whistleblowing, the process and possible implications.
Speak to LSU Advice for guidance on ‘self-whistleblowing’ and the possible implications. It’s much better to raise this with the University early rather than waiting to see if you receive an allegation. Support will be provided throughout.
You will have been given a deadline by which to respond to the University, so please keep this in mind whilst contacting us.
We will be able to provide our best and most specific advice to you once you have sent us the notification letter and evidence (e.g. TurnItIn report or invigilator statement) you have received.