First of all don't panic. We can potentially help you!
The initial disciplinary notification letters from the university now include a copy of the original disciplinary report /complaint, so it should be clear what the allegation is.
We suggest you read the information you are given carefully and that you make a few notes:
- Highlighting anything which you believe to be untrue or which doesn’t fit your recollection of events. If there are important aspects of the story which are not mentioned in the report, then make a note of these. If you are unhappy about the behaviour of someone else who was involved in the incident then try to give specific examples of this.
- If there are aspects of your behavior, or your part in events, which you are prepared to acknowledge as falling below the standard expected by the University, then try to think about why these happened. Is there anything which in hindsight you wish you had done differently? How might you avoid a similar situaiton in future? How do you think your behaviour might have affected others involved in the situaiton? (Sometimes acknowledging that your actions or behavior 'played a part' in events can help your case).
- Make a note of any additional people who are not mentioned in the report, and whom you feel may have useful things to say about the incident. (You can in theory suggest people to the Discipline Team whom they may like to talk to as part of their enquiries).
- Try to keep your notes factual and not overly emotive. It is fine to explain how a particular situation or person made you feel-- this can sometime provide useful context. However, try to avoid making unfounded allegations or resorting to 'name-calling'.
- Above all, try to be as honest and objective as possible. The disciplinary people appreciate honesty!
Remember that as part of the process you will either get the opportunity to give your version of events to an Investigating Officer or to a formal disciplinary panel.
The Support and Advocacy Team would be happy to help you turn your notes into a statement which you could then submit to the University for consideration as part of your case.
Please be aware that if you are on a professional course such as social work or teaching then a disciplinary decision could have implications regarding your Department's fitness to practice procedure. You may like to get advice from us about this.
FAQ’s for people who are complained about:
How long will the process take?
Although there are some timescales in the discipine process (for example, notification of meetings or hearings), it is often difficult to say exactly how long a case will take. This can depend on the extent of the enquiries which Investigating Officers wish to make, how quickly information can be obtained from witnesses, how long it may take to convene a panel, etc. Some disciplinary issues can be concluded within weeks, sometimes it take several months from beginning to end. There is a general expectation that the University will proceed as quickly as circumstances allow, so get in touch with us if you are unhappy with the length of time things are taking.
If I am fined, how long do I have to pay?
Usually 28 days from the notification of the disciplinary decision. Remember, if you do not pay a fine then his can be treated as a further disciplinary breach and your case could be reopened. Don't ignore a fine -- Talk to us if you think you may have trouble paying.
Can I bring a friend to the meetings/ panel?
You can bring a member of staff or a student to a Category 1 or 2 meeting with an Investigating Officer.
You can bring someone similar to a formal panel meeting. However, please be aware that you will be expected to notify the Discipline Team in advance.
Do I need someone trained in legal representation for a panel hearing?
You do not have to have legal representation. In most cases this would be unnecessary and expensive. If you do choose to involve a legal representative then the University will also arange to have their own lawyer present, so this can delay the process.
How long will a panel hearng take?
This varies from case to case, In the more simple cases hearings can last an hour or so, however the more complex cases can take half a day or longer, particularly if witnesses are involved. As mentioned above, don't be afraid to request breaks if necessary!
Can I put forward a witness for the panel?
Yes you can. If a witness agrees to be part of the process then they can be invited to give evidence, either in-person or in writing. However, neither you nor the University can force someone to take part if they do not wish to.
Who will be infomred of the outcome?
For all disiplinary cases, this will be at the discretion of the relevant Investigating Officer (or the Chair of the disciplinary panel for category 3 cases). As a general rule, other University departments and/or your School are not informed unless the IO or panel Chair decide that there is a reason why they should be told. However, a record of the disciplinary case will always be kept by the Governance Office.
What if I don’t attend any meetings or panels?
We suggest that it is always best to engage with the process and make sure that your side of the story is taken into account. This is the best way of ensuring that you receive a fair outcome. We will always try to answer any questions you may have about your case, and (hopefully) reassure you regarding any worries you may have about meetings or panels. Most students tell us afterwards that the anticipation and wait is worse than the actual event! Remember, if you choose not to attend meetings or write a statement then the University can still make decisions in your absence.
What happens if I am reported to the police?
Incidents/allegations which involve the police are often dealt with as category 3 cases. If the police are actively involved then the University put their disciplinary process on hold while any criminal investigations/procedings are ongoing, and then reopen the disciplinary case once the outcome of the criminal procedings is known.