Academic Misconduct Committee
Become a student member of University Misconduct Committees: A jury of one’s peers
This University takes a strict approach to all forms of misconduct, as do most Australian tertiary institutions. Part of your education here involves developing your moral compass and learning to understand and abide by the rules and regulations that govern the University, as well as the world at large.
There are a range of reasons why academic integrity and ethical conduct are important to the University, and why they should be important to you as a student. While it may be superficially attractive to think of uni days as carefree, and without consequences – in reality, it is incumbent on the University to provide graduates who are properly equipped for the world beyond its doors. Failure to follow rules and act with integrity has serious consequences in all walks of life, and your studies are important preparations for this reality.
Ultimately, students who cheat, are actually cheating themselves, because they will not have learned the material they will later rely on in their future studies or work. In many cases unethical behaviour leads to unfairness to honest students and ultimately damages the reputation of the institution, and with it the value of your qualification. Moreover, ill-qualified professionals pose real risks to the public, which should be concerning to everyone. For all of these reasons, the University’s strict approach makes sense.
With a strict approach, however, comes a significant responsibility to undertake all processes involving allegations of misconduct with great rigour and fairness. Sometimes the pressure to focus on issues of academic honesty obscures the importance of sound decision-making. That’s where the misconduct committee comes in. Without a fair, consistent and transparent process, there can be no integrity to the University’s position on academic honesty.
Up until recently, UMSU has relied on elected Office Bearers to provide the pool of student misconduct committee members. However, with increasing numbers of allegations, the current pool and system are struggling to meet the demand for student members on these Committees. We also believe that training appropriate volunteers for this task will potentially make the pool of student members more diverse, and therefore more representative of the broader student population: the essential idea behind ‘ a jury of one’s peers.
Before you go any further, you might like to read our advice to students with respect to responding to allegations of misconduct. To see if you are really interested in this role, you may also want to review our publications on the topics of misconduct policy, and good decision making (which also contains the relevant University Regulations and policy).
What do I have to do?
As a volunteer student committee member, you will be an equal member on a misconduct panel (Committee) alongside two senior academics. You will read students’ written submissions in response to allegations of academic or general misconduct, in most cases meet with the students facing allegations in order to hear their account, and ask relevant questions leading to a decision about whether the allegation is substantiated, and if so the proportionate penalty. This requires confidence, sound familiarity with the relevant rules and regulations, a capacity to apply principles of good administrative decision making to an allegation, and the ability to put forward reasoned and logical positions in support of your position.
This means you need to have well developed skills in certain areas, including:
- personal confidence and good communication skills;
- good logical reasoning skills;
- a sound understanding of personal responsibility, and the importance of ethical behaviour and academic integrity; and
- be of generally good character yourself.
Additionally, we will provide training, guidance and mentoring on:
- the relevant university regulations and processes; and
- principles of fairness in decision making.
Training for this role is compulsory, so you must be available to attend one training session before you start.