Check what to do if someone has reported your behaviour or you are suspected of academic misconduct.
What we expect of you at Sussex
We may respond to an allegation about your behaviour where there’s an indication it doesn’t respect the University, its staff, fellow students or the wider community.
We do this so we maintain our central activities of teaching, learning and research with dignity and respect.
We may take action where your conduct indicates:
- actual or potential distress or harm to others
- actual or potential damage to the property of the University or others
- disrupts the normal operation of the University
- interferes with the work or study of someone at the University.
This applies to everyone registered at Sussex, including Visiting and Exchange students and those on a Study Abroad year.
An issue relating to your work as a student could become a case of academic misconduct. This is different from a discipline concern.
How we respond to behaviour concerns
We might get in touch with you if we receive information concerning your behaviour, which appears not to meet our expectations.
If we do get in contact, we’re trying to understand what happened and speak to you about the incident. This doesn’t mean we have concluded you did something wrong – only that we are looking into a report from someone else.
The reporting person could be another student, staff or a member of the public.
Any allegation concerning you will only be upheld if a full investigation concludes that this should happen.
You can choose to be involved and supported throughout the process.
The timeframes can vary at each stage of the process. See the student discipline regulation [PDF 203KB] and the student discipline procedure [PDF 210KB] for details. You’ll also be advised when we contact you.
We have dedicated services who are familiar with student discipline issues. They can help you if you have been reported for alleged misconduct.
You can go to:
The process is private throughout. However, for details about being accompanied and representation, see the student discipline regulation [PDF 203KB].
You can also find more information in our student discipline procedure [PDF 210KB].
Considering a report
A dedicated team of impartial and trained members of University staff responds to any concerns about student behaviour.
When considering a report, we go through a series of steps.
In some cases, we take precautionary action in the interest of maintaining the health, safety or wellbeing of people at Sussex, including yourself.
This is to ensure a full and proper investigation can be carried out.
You’ll be told if any precautionary action is being taken.
Important: Precautionary action is not a penalty and does not mean you have committed a disciplinary offence.
Precautionary action can include:
- conditions, such as not contacting certain people, and/or
- suspensions or exclusions.
We may review or amend these actions throughout the investigation.
Important: You must comply with any precautionary action imposed. You can ask for this decision to be reconsidered. This is called submitting representations. Refer to the letter you have received for guidance. You can also read section 3 in the student discipline regulation [PDF 203KB] for full details.
When we start an investigation, an investigating officer is appointed to consider the concerns raised.
The investigating officer will review the report and determine the most appropriate level of misconduct.
The three levels of misconduct are:
- Level 1 can include persistent disruptive behaviour, behaviour which causes a disturbance or nuisance to others, or behaviour which may negatively impact upon the health, safety and wellbeing of others
- Level 2 can include threatening behaviour and bullying or harassment of staff or students. It also includes failure to comply with a sanction imposed for Level 1 misconduct
- Level 3 can include behaviour that is sufficiently serious to call into question the student’s continued registration at the University. It also includes a failure to comply with sanctions imposed for Level 2 misconduct.
The level can be reclassified at any time.
During the investigation
You will be:
- given a copy of the report concerning you
- told the level and type of misconduct your behaviour is being considered under
- given the opportunity to admit or deny the allegation
- able to submit your own representations in response
- invited to meet the investigating officer and discuss the allegation
- able to submit your own evidence for consideration.
We may also make our own enquiries (such as gathering witness statements or CCTV footage) but this information will also be shared with you.
There may be circumstances where we can’t share all the evidence with you. This is due to safeguarding. If this does occur, you’ll be given a summary of the withheld evidence.
Determining the outcome
If the report concerning you is being considered under Level 1 or Level 2 the investigating officer will, based on the evidence:
- conclude if you have acted against our expectations, as defined in the non-academic misconduct regulation
- issue any appropriate sanctions, depending on the circumstances of the case.
If the report is being considered under Level 3, a student disciplinary panel will determine the case outcome and issue sanctions.
A panel usually comprises two approved members of University staff and a full-time elected officer of the Students’ Union.
You should attend this panel so you can respond in your own words, including any evidence you have.
If you don’t attend, the panel may make a finding in your absence.
Important: All decisions are made based on the evidence. Findings are made based on the balance of probabilities.
A sanction is a penalty imposed on you after an allegation of non-academic misconduct has been upheld. This is called a finding.
See the student discipline regulation [PDF 203KB] for details on the different sanctions allowed at each level.
If the police are involved
A concern about your conduct could be reported to the University, the police or both organisations.
In some cases, we reserve the right to report to the police alleged misconduct that could constitute a criminal offence under the law of England and Wales.
Where a criminal investigation is ongoing, we follow guidance from Universities UK. In such circumstances, we may take precautionary action in response to a report if it suggests a risk to the health, safety or wellbeing of people at Sussex. However, we will wait until a criminal process has concluded before starting our own proceedings. This is to ensure we do not interfere with or prejudice a criminal investigation.
Appeal a discipline decision
Where a finding has been made, you can submit an appeal.
You have 10 working days to do this after receiving the outcome of a finding. We do not usually consider appeals outside of this timeframe.
You can request an appeal on any of three grounds:
- That there was a material procedural irregularity which may have affected the outcome
- That there is evidence which was not considered, which may have affected the outcome and which you could not reasonably have been expected to have submitted at the time
- That the decision is not one that, given the evidence, could be reasonably sustained.
After you submit your appeal
An appeal of Level 1 or Level 2 finding is considered by a Pro-Vice-Chancellor (PVC) of the University. They will determine whether to uphold or amend the decision. This decision is final.
A Level 3 finding is considered by a member of the University’s Executive Group (UEG) in the first instance. They will determine if there’s a real prospect of success or if there’s a compelling reason why the appeal should be considered. If they think this is the case, they’ll refer your appeal to a committee. If not, the original decision will stand.
In all circumstances, the PVC or UEG member will not have been previously involved with the process and will work based on the papers.
For full details of the appeal process, read section 9 of our student discipline regulation [PDF 203KB].
After the appeal
You have exhausted all internal processes after an appeal. If you are dissatisfied with the outcome, you can contact the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education (the OIA).
Comments or concerns about the process