College Misconduct and Fitness to Practise Committee

What is a College Misconduct or Fitness to Practise Committee?

A College Misconduct Committee (CMC) is a meeting of a small group of people who decide whether or not a student committed misconduct (broke the University’s rules).  These happen when something cannot be dealt with immediately  because it is serious, or because you have asked for asked for a College Misconduct Committee because you don’t agree with the result of an Academic Integrity or Student Conduct meeting.

The types of issues a CMC might meet about include presenting other people’s work as your own (plagiarism), breaking the rules in an exam, or other types of misconduct, for example, harassment, being violent, or using offensive language.

Some programmes follow Fitness to Practise procedures, and students on these are referred to a College Fitness to Practise Committee (CFTPC). More information about Fitness to Practise processes can be found on the Fitness to Practise webpage.

This page outlines what happens if a case is referred to a CMC, including the processes leading up to the CMC, what will happen at the CMC, and what will happen afterwards.

Starting the CMC process

If someone, for instance, a member of staff or another student, claims that a student’s behaviour breaks the University’s regulations, the matter may be investigated by an Investigating Officer.  The Investigating Officer (IO) will be a member of staff, usually from your School or from Academic Services. This is in line with  University Regulation 8 – Student Conduct. 

After the IO has gathered information about the alleged misconduct, a decision will be made about whether the case should be referred to a CMC, whether it should be dismissed, or whether it should be resolved in another way.

Before the Committee

If your case is referred to a CMC, you will be sent an Investigating Officer’s Report (IO Report). The IO Report will explain the allegations, including information about your alleged behaviour and which of the University regulations may have been broken.

The IO Report will also include any relevant evidence, such as any witness statements or explanations you may have given during the investigation, either in writing or that you gave verbally when you attended the interview with the IO.

When you are sent the IO Report, you will normally be told the names of any witnesses that may also be asked to attend the Committee. Witnesses might be members of staff, students, or other relevant persons.

You will normally be given 10 working days (not including weekends or bank holidays)  from the date the IO Report is sent to you to write and submit a response. 

What should I include in my response?

Your response will need to be submitted in writing, normally by email, and should include:

  • Whether you admit or deny the alleged offence(s);
  • Any relevant evidence you think the CMC should consider when making its decision (for instance, evidence to support why you deny the offence or to support your mitigating circumstances, such as doctor’s notes or other information);
  • The names of any witnesses you want to invite to the CMC and the reason why you want them to attend, for example, they were present at the time of the alleged incident and saw what happened. It is helpful to provide witness statements from these witnesses with your response where possible.

If you submit any evidence about another person (such as a relative), you should make sure that you have their permission to give the University information about them for this process.

Evidence about any mitigating circumstances, such as health or personal problems, is normally only considered by the CMC as part of any sanctioning stage.

 

Committee arrangements

Your CMC will be arranged once the deadline for you to submit your response has passed, even if you do not submit a response. As the CMC is made up of a panel of academic staff, the meeting has to be arranged for when the staff are available, which may be several weeks later. You will be given at least 10 days’ notice of the date of the CMC. We will also send you a copy of the papers that will be considered by the Committee, and a copy of the relevant regulations and procedures that will be followed at the CMC.

When you receive information about the date of the CMC, you should check the date and time. If you cannot attend at that time for a good reason, you should contact the University as soon as possible. It may be possible to arrange for you to attend the CMC via a video call, such as Skype or by telephone if you are unable to attend in person.

If you want to invite any witnesses to the Committee, it is your responsibility to arrange for them to attend so you must inform them of the date, time and location. If there is a good reason why your witness(es) cannot attend in person, you should contact the University to request for them to attend via video call, such as Skype or by telephone. You must provide their Skype ID/ telephone number at least five days before the hearing.

What happens if I do not attend the CMC?

If you do not attend the CMC, then the Committee must decide whether to continue with the CMC. They may decide to continue without you or to postpone the CMC to a later date.

If the CMC continues without you, then the Panel will be reminded that 'no adverse inference should be drawn'. This means that the Panel should not take your absence as a sign that you broke the University's rules.

If you are absent, the Case Presenter may still make a statement, answer questions and call witnesses. The Panel will make their decisions based on the evidence.  

Who attends the Committee?

The CMC is usually made up of a panel of academic staff from your College, who have not been involved in the case in any way. For the CFTPC, the panel may also include an external member from a relevant profession, such as a Social Worker or healthcare professional. The panel may also include a student who has been nominated by the Guild of Students. This student will not be from the same School as you. There will also be a member of staff who will act as Secretary. They will make notes, ensure that the CMC follows the correct processes, and may answer questions you or the panel have about the process.

You will be invited to attend the hearing and you can bring a Friend with you. The role of the Friend is to support you and there are rules about who can come to a CMC as a Friend.

Who can act as a Friend?

University Regulation 1 states that a Friend can be:

  • another registered University of Birmingham student
  • an academic member of staff, or
  • a Guild Sabbatical Officer. 

Your Friend cannot be a relative unless they are also a University of Birmingham student or academic member of staff.

You Friend cannot act as a witness or make their own statement. If your Friend saw the alleged misconduct or wants to provide information about what happened, you should consider whether to ask them to attend as your witness instead. If they attend as a witness, they can make a statement about your alleged misconduct and you, the Case Presenter, and the Panel can ask them questions, but they would not be allowed to support as a Friend you during the CMC.

Your Friend will need to provide their details, such as their name, student ID number or job title, and their School/Department. Their details will be noted by the Secretary and will be recorded in the final report.

It is your responsibility to make any arrangements for your Friend to attend and to make sure that they are aware of what they need to do.

If you would like a Guild Sabbatical Officer to attend as your Friend, you will need to contact Guild Advice.

Your Friend cannot answer questions that only you can answer and cannot act as a translator for you. Your Friend may make statements on your behalf at the appropriate points during the hearing and may ask questions for you at certain points. 

A Case Presenter will also attend the hearing. The Case Presenter is usually the IO or Academic Integrity Officer who investigated the alleged misconduct. Sometimes it may be another member of University staff. The Case Presenter will make statements about the case and answer questions. 

What does the Case Presenter do?

The Case Presenter attends the CMC as an objective fact finder. Their role is to describe the facts of the case for the Panel to consider. They will explain the key points of the alleged misconduct and the investigation and may call witnesses to provide evidence.

The Case Presenter is usually the Investigating Officer who first investigated your case, or the Academic Integrity Officer from your School. If not, it will be another member of University staff.

The Case Presenter may make a recommendation to the Panel about a sanction (penalty), however they do not take part in the decision making and the Panel does not have to  accept the recommendation.

The Case Presenter will only be in the room at the same time as you, so you will hear everything that they say to the Panel. They will have the opportunity to ask you questions, and you can ask them questions too.

What should I take to a Committee?

You should take your copy of the paperwork to the hearing. You might need to refer to these papers in the meeting as the Case Presenter or Panel may ask you questions about some of the information. It may also be helpful to take some note paper and a pen with you so that you can write down any questions you may want to ask, or statements you want to make.

What is included in the paperwork?

The paperwork will usually include:

  • The Investigating Officer’s report, including details of the alleged offence, information you provided in interview, and evidence you or others had submitted
  • Your response to the IO report, including any evidence or witness statements you provided with it
  • Copies of the relevant Codes of Practice and regulations
  • The Guidance Note

If you have any additional evidence, you will need to request that this be considered as additional evidence. You should contact Student Conduct as soon as possible to ask for the evidence to be considered. It is your responsibility to provide evidence as soon as you can. 

Can I bring new evidence to the CMC on the day?

If you bring any additional evidence on the day of the hearing, you should tell the Secretary when you arrive so that the Chair of the Panel can decide whether your new evidence should be allowed to be taken into in the hearing. 

The CMC may need to break for a short time to allow the Secretary to make copies of the evidence for everyone in the room, and for the Panel to read and consider it. If there is a large amount of additional evidence, the CMC may have to be postponed to a later date. 

There is no guarantee that your additional evidence  will be  accepted.

What happens at a Committee?

The CMC will normally begin once all of the members of the Panel, you and the Case Presenter are present. The Secretary will ask you, your Friend (if you have one), and the Case Presenter into the room at the same time. You will be shown where to sit and may be offered a glass of water. You will be given the chance to sit down and get your paperwork out before beginning. The Chair will ask everyone to introduce themselves and will explain what will happen.

Throughout the CMC, if you have any questions about what is happening then you should ask the Secretary. If you are not sure that you have heard something correctly or do not understand something that is said, you may ask the person to repeat themselves or to explain what they mean.

There are normally two stages to a CMC: the evidence stage and the sanction stage. Each stage follows a strict process to ensure that everyone gets the opportunity to speak and be listened to.

At the start of the hearing, the Chair will ask if you admit or deny the alleged offence.  If you admit the offence in full, the Chair of the CMC may decide to move straight to the sanction stage, where you will have the opportunity to present any mitigating circumstances.

If you only admit part of the allegation or if the Panel are not sure  that you have fully admitted the allegation, then the Chair of the Panel may decide to begin with the evidence stage.

1) Evidence stage

The evidence stage is an opportunity for the Case Presenter and you (or your Friend) to make a statement, call witnesses, and answer questions from each other and the Committee. The Case Presenter and you will then both be allowed to make a final statement once all the questions have been asked.

Order of the evidence stage

  1. The Case Presenter makes a statement
  2. The Case Presenter may call witnesses, who can make a statement and answer questions from you (or your Friend), the Case Presenter, and the Panel
  3. You (or your Friend) and the Committee ask the Case Presenter questions
  4. You make a statement, or your Friend makes it on your behalf
  5. You may call witnesses, who can make a statement and answer questions from you (or your Friend), the Case Presenter, and the Panel
  6. You will be asked questions by the Case Presenter and the Panel (your Friend cannot answer these questions)
  7. The Case Presenter will make a final statement
  8. You may make a final statement
More detailed information is available in the Guidance Note.

After the final statements, you (and your Friend) and the Case Presenter will be asked to leave the room whilst the Committee decide whetherit is more likely than not that you have committed the alleged disciplinary offence. 

Once the Committee has made its decision, you (and your Friend) and the Case Presenter will be asked to return and the Chair will tell you the Panel’s decision.

If the Panel decide that on the balance of probabilities you did not commit the alleged disciplinary offence, the CMC will end at this point.

2) Sanctioning stage

If you admit the offence or the Panel decide that the allegation is proven, the Panel will decide on an appropriate sanction (penalty) for the misconduct. 

The Chair may start by asking if you understand the different sanctions that could be applied, and may explain them to you. As in the first (evidence) stage, there will be a chance for you (or your Friend) and the Case Presenter to make statements, and be questioned by each other and the Panel. At this stage, you should tell the Panel about any mitigating factors you want the Committee to consider when deciding the sanction.  

Order of the sanctioning stage

  1. The Case Presenter makes a statement
  2. The Case Presenter may call witnesses, who  can make a statement and answer questions from you (or your Friend), the Case Presenter, and the Panel
  3. You (or your Friend) and the Committee ask the Case Presenter questions
  4. You make a statement, or your Friend makes it on your behalf
  5. You may call witnesses, who will can  a statement and answer questions from you (or your Friend), the Case Presenter, and the Panel
  6. You will be asked questions by the Case Presenter and the Panel (your Friend cannot answer these questions)
  7. The Case Presenter will make a final statement
  8. You may make a final statement
More detailed information is available in the Guidance Note.

After the final statements, you (and your Friend) and the Case Presenter will leave at this point.  This will be the end of the CMC for you.  The Committee will then discuss and decide on an appropriate sanction.

You will not be told the sanction on the day, but will receive the decision in writing, explained below.

For CFTPC, the Committee will first consider whether the case raises specific concerns regarding your fitness to practise in the relevant professional area, and then decide on an appropriate sanction.

What sanctions can the Panel choose? 

There are a range of sanctions available for non-Academic Misconduct (e.g. violent or offensive  behaviour) and Academic Misconduct (e.g. plagiarism, exam misconduct).

For non-Academic Misconduct, the sanctions include a reprimand, debarment (restrictions) from certain University facilities or premises, suspension from the University, and withdrawal (removal) from the University.

For Academic Misconduct, there are additional sanctions which will have an impact on your assessment marks, module marks, and degree classification. The range of sanctions include:

  • engaging with appropriate remedial tuition
  • allowing the examination mark to stand
  • reducing the examination mark and permitting a resit which may be capped at the pass mark or a mark which would enable progression
  • reducing the examination mark with no opportunity to resit
  • reducing the module mark with no opportunity to resit
  • limit the award of a postgraduate certificate, diploma or degree to a pass or merit
  • reduce the degree classification
  • suspension for up to one year
  • withdrawal from the University, with an award
  • withdrawal from the University, without an award

In some circumstances, the sanction imposed will mean that you will not be eligible to receive a Degree from the University, for example because it will stop you achieving enough module credits. The Committee consider each case individually and take into consideration all of the evidence including any relevant aggravating factors or mitigating circumstances. There is not standard sanctions for each type of misconduct.

More detailed information about sanctions can be found in the Code of Practice on Misconduct and Fitness to Practise Committee.

After the Committee  

You will not be told the sanction the Panel have chosen on the day. You will receive the decision in a letter which will be sent to you by email.

The Secretary for the CMC will write an outcome report which details what happened at the CMC, what the Panel have decided, and what this means for you. They will also write an outcome letter to summarise the decision and the sanction. You will normally be sent the outcome letter and report within five University working days of the CMC. If there will be a delay for any reason, you will be informed of this as soon as possible.

CMC letter and report 

You will be sent an outcome letter and an outcome report. These are written by the Secretary for your CMC and approved by the Chair of the Panel and are usually sent via email.

The letter will inform you of the outcome of the CMC, including whether the alleged misconduct was found proven, and if so, what sanction the Panel have chosen. It will explain what the sanction means for you.

The letter will also tell you how you can appeal against the decision. An appeal can only be made on certain grounds (reasons). Further information about appealing a Committee decision can be found on the Appeals to the University Misconduct and Fitness to Practise Committee webpage

The outcome report will give a detailed summary of the CMC, including who was there, what was discussed, the questions that were asked, and the reasons for the Panel’s decisions.

You should take time to read both documents carefully.

You will normally receive the letter and report at the same time (within 5 days of the CMC), but sometimes the  report is sent after the letter. You will be told if the letter or report will be delayed for any reason.

The letter and report will also be sent to the Case Presenter so that they know what was decided. A copy may also be sent to student administration teams so that relevant information may be recorded on your student record. The Panel will decide whether the information should be kept on your student record and the length of time it should be kept. If you are an international student, the letter and report may also be sent to the International Student Team.

Depending on your sanction, the information may be shared with other relevant departments, such as Security or student accommodation, for example if you have been debarred from (restricted from visiting) certain buildings or areas. The outcome is only shared with those who need to know; it will not normally be shared with other students (unless they complained about your behaviour), your family, or the public.

If you are not satisfied with the outcome of the CMC or CFTPC, you can appeal against the decision. Further information about appealing a Committee decision can be found on the Appeals to the University Misconduct and Fitness to Practise Committee webpage

We understand that attending a CMC can be daunting. If you feel you need support after the hearing, there are a range of people you can contact, including Wellbeing Officers. Further information about the support that is available on the Health, welfare and wellbeing support webpage.

Further Information

Before the CMC, you will be sent the Guidance Note which sets out the stages and order of proceedings of the CMC in detail. The Guidance Note contains a range of other useful information, including how Committees consider mitigating and aggravating factors.

More detailed information about the procedures for CMCs is set out in the Code of Practice on Misconduct and Fitness to Practise Committee, which can be found on the relevant legislation webpage for your cohort.

Help and support

If you require assistance in preparing for your CMC or CFTPC, you can contact Guild Advice, based in the Guild of Students. As your student’s union, the Guild of Students is independent from the University and can provide advice and support for you throughout the process. You can also access a range of help and support from the University.

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