Accessibility statement

Non-Academic Misconduct Disciplinary Procedure

Jump to a section:

1. Introduction
2. What do we mean by non-academic misconduct?
3. What if the misconduct is also a crime?
4. How can non-academic misconduct be reported?
5. What happens during a disciplinary process?
5.1 Informal Action
5.2 Formal Disciplinary Procedure
5.2.1 Investigation
5.2.2 Disciplinary Meetings and Disciplinary Hearings
5.2.3 Dealing with cases summarily
5.3 Precautionary measures
6. What sanctions can be applied if we find that misconduct has occurred?
7. How can a decision be appealed?
8. What support is available for students going through this procedure?
9. Other helpful links

Document history and review cycle

Date Action
1 August 2022 Procedure signed off by Student Life Committee

The procedure is reviewed every two years by Student Life Committee. The next review is due August 2024.

This procedure should be read in conjunction with Regulation 7: Student Discipline, which is the framework under which the University can investigate and respond to reports of student misconduct. 

Reports of academic misconduct are managed under the Academic Misconduct Disciplinary Procedure.

1. Introduction

1.1 The University is committed to creating a working, learning, social and living environment which is safe, inclusive and welcoming for everyone. The University owes a duty of care towards its students and staff and there is an expectation that all members of the University community will uphold the principles of treating each other with dignity and respect.

1.2 Together York -  A Community of Respect, details the values of respect, fairness and compassion the University expects students within our community to uphold. It also details the conduct and behaviours that students at York are expected to demonstrate.

1.3 The purpose of this procedure is to safeguard the University community when it is reported that a student’s conduct has not been appropriate or in line with University values or expectations, ensuring timely, consistent and fair responses to allegations of non-academic misconduct.

2. What do we mean by non-academic misconduct?

2.1 Non-academic misconduct refers to actions or omissions which cause, or may cause, injury, physical or mental harm or damage to people, property, or the reputation of the University. This includes actions or omissions which obstruct or prevent the proper functioning of the University or impede any member of the University from carrying out their studies or work. It also includes actions or omissions designed to mislead or defraud the University.

2.2 The following list offers examples of the types of behaviour which would be considered to be non-academic misconduct and potentially result in disciplinary action under this procedure. The list is non-exhaustive and the University may take disciplinary action in relation to behaviours not specifically listed below. 

(a) Physical misconduct

  • Punching, kicking, slapping or hitting another person.
  • Spitting at, or throwing items at, another person.
  • Grabbing, strangling or restraining another person.
  • Pushing or shoving another person.
  • Forcing or coercing the consumption of drugs, alcohol or any other substance.

(b) Sexual misconduct

  • Engaging in a sexual act without consent.
  • Attempting to engage in a sexual act without consent.
  • Sharing, or threatening to share, private sexual images or materials of another person without consent.
  • Kissing without consent.
  • Sexual touching without consent.
  • Inappropriately showing sexual organs to another person.
  • Making unwanted remarks of a sexual nature.

(c) Abusive, threatening, or unacceptable behaviour

  • Threats to hurt another person.
  • Abusive comments relating to an individual’s sexual orientation, religion or belief, race, pregnancy/maternity, marriage or civil partnership, gender, gender identity, disability or age.
  • Disorderly, riotous, violent, indecent, intimidating behaviour or language.
  • Repeatedly contacting another person against the wishes of that person.
  • Repeatedly following another person without good reason.
  • Bullying or harassment. 
  • Hate incidents.

(d) Damage to property

  • Causing significant damage to University property, the property of students or employees of the University, or visitors of the University, and to property outside of  the University. 
  • Causing minor damage to University property, the property of students or employees of the University, or visitors of the University.

(e) Unauthorised taking or use of property

  • Taking property belonging to another person without permission.
  • Unauthorised entry onto, or inappropriate use of, University premises.
  • Misuse of University equipment, including computers.

(f) Causing a health or safety concern or risk

  • Any act or omission that did cause or could cause injury or harm to others (for example, disabling fire extinguishers).
  • Possession, storage, distribution or use of any controlled drug.
  • Possession, or use of a dangerous weapon on University premises.
  • Failure to comply with Health and Safety rules, including smoking in a University building.

(g) Operational obstruction

  • Acts, omissions or statements intended to deceive the University. 
  • Disruption of the activities of the University (including academic, administrative, sporting and social) on University premises or elsewhere.
  • Disruption of the functions, duties or activities of any student or employee of the University or any authorised visitor to the University.
  • Failure to comply with any University regulation, policy, procedure, code or sanction.
  • Acts that interfere with the University’s ability to fulfil its statutory duties.

(h) Damage to the reputation of the University

  • Behaviour which has caused serious damage or may cause serious damage to the reputation of the University. 
  • Antisocial activities in the community.
  • Repetitious noise and general nuisance.
  • Making libellous statements or unfounded allegations against the University on social networks or other sites.

(i) Criminal convictions

  • Receiving a relevant criminal conviction while registered as a student or during a period of leave of absence (a 'relevant criminal offence' is defined in section 3.4). 
  • Failure to disclose a relevant criminal charge or conviction incurred while registered as a student or during a period of leave of absence (a 'relevant criminal offence' is defined in section 3.4).
  • Failure to comply with any disclosure requirements for courses leading to membership of a profession or a professional body and/or for Fitness to Practise considerations (which requirements normally include disclosure of 'spent' convictions) as indicated in section 3.6.

3. What if the misconduct is also a crime?

3.1 While there are behaviours in the definitions of non-academic misconduct which might also be categorised as criminal, it is important to understand that the University cannot investigate incidents as crimes.

3.2 An incident of misconduct may also be reported to the police, either by an impacted person, a witness, or by the University. The University will normally respect the decision of the impacted person of whether or not to report the matter to the police. However, the University may investigate the incident on its own volition, and in exceptional circumstances, following a risk assessment, may report an incident to the police against the wishes of the impacted person. Such a decision will consider the duty of care and safeguarding of the University community. The University will explain its decision and the reasons to the impacted person either in advance or as soon as possible after the report is made.

3.3 A student subject to this disciplinary procedure who is also subject to a police investigation will be asked to keep the Conduct and Respect team updated on the progress of the police case. The University may temporarily suspend a disciplinary investigation until the criminal justice matter has concluded. The University reserves the right to proceed with the disciplinary procedure when a student has been acquitted in criminal proceedings.

3.4 While registered as a student or on a Leave of Absence, students are required to inform the University of:

a) Any bail conditions they are subject to;

b) Any relevant criminal offence they are charged with;

c) Any relevant criminal offence they are convicted of.

3.5 A relevant criminal offence is defined as:

  • offences involving any kind of violence
  • offences concerning the intention to harm or resulting in actual bodily harm
  • the unlawful supply of controlled drugs or substances
  • commercial drug dealing or trafficking
  • offences involving firearms
  • arson
  • offences listed in the Sexual Offences Act 2003
  • offences concerning abusive images of children
  • extreme pornography, as specified by the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008
  • offences listed under the Computer Misuse Act 1990 and related Acts
  • offences listed in the Terrorism Act 2006. 

3.6 Disclosures should be made to the Conduct and Respect team by emailing at the earliest opportunity but no more than five days after the bail condition, charge or conviction is received. Failure to disclose within this timeframe could jeopardise the student's enrolment status.

3.7 Some programmes (eg Medicine, Health Sciences, Social Work) are exempt from the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act and students on these courses are required to disclose any convictions of a criminal offence. Disclosures should be made in writing to the Conduct and Respect team at the earliest opportunity but no more than five days after the conviction.

4. How can non-academic misconduct be reported?

4.1 Non-academic misconduct can be reported using Report and Support.

4.2 If a report is submitted with contact details, there will be a response within five working days. Where an individual making a report has been directly impacted by the reported misconduct, a meeting will be offered to explain possible next steps and support options.

4.3 Anonymous reporting of non-academic misconduct will not normally lead to a disciplinary investigation being launched under this procedure, but where there is a safeguarding or duty of care concern, we may act on anonymous reports. The University also uses information from anonymous reports to inform our understanding, resourcing and campaigns.

4.4 The Student Conduct and Respect team are able to provide advice, as required, to anyone who is concerned about the conduct of a student. Anyone who is concerned should contact and take advice from the team before taking any action.

5. What happens during a disciplinary process?

Flowchart for non-academic disciplinary procedure - find link to accessible version on page

View the full-size Flowchart for Non-Academic Misconduct Disciplinary Procedure

5.1 Informal action 

(a) Where possible and appropriate, concerns regarding conduct matters should be raised directly with students at the earliest opportunity at an informal level. This will normally occur in colleges or academic departments, by College Managers, senior departmental academic and professional support staff, or the University Fire Safety Officer. These conversations should be held privately and must explain the reason for any concerns and set expectations for future behaviour. 

Dealing with matters informally will normally only be appropriate when this is the first time that concerns about the student’s conduct have been raised. 

(b) Misconduct causing minor disruption or anti-social behaviour that is not directed at other individuals can sometimes be dealt with informally without the need to initiate the formal disciplinary process. Examples of these issues may include: 

  • Complaints about noise in accommodation
  • General disregard for living space - cleanliness, tidiness or damage to property
  • Repeated use of offensive/inappropriate language
  • Smoking near a building or inside (first instance)

(c) Students and/or staff who observe misconduct that may give cause for concern should inform their Head of Department or a College Manager who is authorised to deal with such concerns informally. The purpose of these discussions is to ensure the student understands the nature of the concerns and expected improvements in behaviour, including timescales if appropriate, and that support is available.  

(d) In some cases, an informal verbal warning may be given, which will not form part of a formal disciplinary record. A note of any such informal discussions and verbal warnings will be held on the college management system or departmental records for 12 months at which point if there are no further concerns the matter will be considered resolved. 

(e) Where an issue has been discussed with a student informally and:

  • the issue has not been resolved and the problem persists or
  • the required improvements in conduct are not achieved or
  • further information becomes available which suggests the matter is more serious 

the formal disciplinary procedure should be invoked by referring the matter to the Student Conduct and Respect team.

5.2 Formal disciplinary procedure 

5.2.1 Stage one - Investigation 

(a) Where the informal process has not led to improved student conduct, or where the reported misconduct is so serious that informal action is not appropriate, formal disciplinary action will be initiated. 

(b) When a report of student misconduct is received, the Student Conduct and Respect team will process the report and pass the case to the Disciplinary Manager, who will be either the Director of Student Life and Wellbeing, the Head (or Deputy Head) of Student Conduct and Respect or the Senior Colleges Manager, to assess whether there is a potential case to answer, and if necessary to appoint an Investigating Officer(s). If a case is particularly complex, there may be more than one Investigating Officer. 

(c) The Investigating Officer shall investigate as they deem appropriate, talking with the reported student, the person who is reporting them and, where appropriate, any witnesses. The Investigating Officer will submit a report of their findings to the Disciplinary Manager who appointed them taking into account the circumstances and evidence available. The investigation will establish whether there is a disciplinary case to answer or not.  

(d) Upon receipt of the investigation report the Disciplinary Manager may: 

  • decide to take no further action; or
  • refer the matter for informal resolution; or 
  • decide there is a case to answer and  proceed to stage two of the procedure which may involve a formal Disciplinary Meeting or Disciplinary Panel Hearing. 

(e) Where an investigation indicates that there may have been an act of misconduct the student will be given the opportunity to attend a formal Disciplinary Meeting (Level one) at which they can respond to the allegation and state their case. 

(f) If the matter under consideration is deemed to be of a serious nature, the matter will be referred to a Disciplinary Panel (Level two).

(g) The reported student will be notified of the decision to refer the matter to a Disciplinary Meeting or Disciplinary Panel, and informed of the allegation(s) against them and how their reported behaviour is considered to have breached expected standards. In all cases, students will be invited to submit further evidence about the facts of the case and also any mitigation in relation to the case. 

5.2.2 Stage two - Disciplinary Meeting (Level one) and Disciplinary Panel Hearings (Level two)

Level one - Disciplinary Meeting

(a) The student will be provided with details of the alleged misconduct and it will be explained that in a disciplinary meeting the outcome or disciplinary sanction will be less than suspension or expulsion.   

(b) The student will be invited to make written submissions and to submit any relevant evidence, including any mitigation they consider relevant to the case, and will be given an opportunity to attend the disciplinary meeting. Prior to the meeting, the investigation report and any evidence which is to be considered will be shared with the student. 

(c) The student will be given an opportunity to present their case and raise any issues they wish to have considered as facts in relation to the case or in mitigation.  

(d) The Disciplinary Manager conducting the disciplinary meeting will consider all representations and then decide if the case is proven and if so what level of disciplinary sanction is appropriate, taking into account any mitigating or aggravating factors.

(e) The decision will be confirmed in writing within five days of the meeting. The correspondence shall also notify the student of their right to appeal against the decision and/or any sanction imposed.

Level two - Disciplinary Panel Hearings

(f) The student will be provided with details of the alleged misconduct and it will be explained that at a Disciplinary Panel Hearing the outcome or disciplinary sanction could include suspension or expulsion. 

(g) The student will be invited to make written submissions and to submit any relevant evidence including details of any witnesses to the facts they wish to call, and will be given an opportunity to attend the Disciplinary Panel Hearing. Prior to the hearing, the investigation report and any evidence which is to be considered, including the names of any witnesses to be called, will be shared with the student. 

(h)  A Disciplinary Panel will be established consisting of three senior members of the University not previously involved in the case, one of whom will be nominated as Chair. There will be a secretary to the panel who will act as note taker. The Investigating Officer and/or the Disciplinary Manager will present the case of alleged misconduct to the Disciplinary Panel. 

(i) The Panel will determine the process for the conduct of the hearing, including how evidence should be given and whether any measures should be put in place to protect the reporting person or any other witnesses. The Panel may adjourn the hearing at any time.

(j) Following the Disciplinary Panel Hearing the members of the Disciplinary Panel will decide whether the misconduct has been proven and, if so, what level of disciplinary sanction is appropriate, taking into account any mitigating or aggravating factors.

(k) Formal notification of the outcome of the Disciplinary Panel Hearing, the reasons for the decision and (where relevant) any sanctions imposed will be sent in writing within five working days of the hearing. The letter will include the effective date that the sanction commences, and details of the student’s right of appeal.

5.2.3 Dealing with cases summarily

(a) If the student has admitted to the misconduct during the investigation, then depending upon the circumstances and seriousness of the misconduct, the matter may be dealt with summarily. This will not be considered in level two cases of misconduct. 

(b) The Investigating Officer will explain the consequences of the case being dealt with summarily and the potential outcomes. The student will have to make a statement of their admission and agree to proceed without a formal Disciplinary Meeting. 

(c) A Disciplinary Manager will then consider the case and issue a sanction.

5.3 Precautionary measures

When immediate action is required during the disciplinary procedure (including interim suspension or exclusion).

5.3.1 There may be circumstances that require immediate action to ensure that the University fulfils its duty of care towards students and staff as indicated by a risk assessment. Such circumstances may include but are not limited to:

  • Cases involving a threat of serious and/or ongoing harm to a student and/or others.
  • Cases where a student’s mental health is at risk or where a student displays significant distress.
  • Cases of a highly sensitive nature.
  • Cases involving serious damage to University property.
  • Cases where there is a high risk of a recurrence of unacceptable behaviour.
  • Cases where the presence of the reported student would hinder the ability of the University to conduct an investigation.
  • Cases where the alleged misconduct would also amount to a criminal offence.  

5.3.2 The Director of Student Life and Wellbeing may, on an interim basis, suspend a student's registration, or exclude them from the whole, or any part of the University or its precincts and/or impose other conditions on the student’s continued study, in consultation with a member of the Student and Academic Services Management Team, where following a risk assessment, they believe that the continued presence of the student is not appropriate.

5.3.3 The University may require the student to remain off campus immediately for a stipulated period, although such an act is neutral and is in no way a presumption that an act of misconduct has occurred. During that time, the student may return to the University to attend any Disciplinary Meetings or Disciplinary Panel Hearings under this procedure, or with the prior express permission of the Director of Student Life and Wellbeing, which may be subject to specified conditions as the Director of Student Life and Wellbeing deems to be appropriate.

5.3.4 The decision to suspend, exclude and/or to place interim conditions will only be considered where sufficient alternative measures cannot be put in place to mitigate the level of risk. It is a precautionary, rather than a punitive, measure.

5.3.5 Any suspension, exclusion or conditions will be limited to a specified period of time and will be reviewed if there is any significant change in circumstances, by a Disciplinary Manager, but may be extended where necessary to do so. The student will be informed in writing of the reasons for the precautionary action and the detail of the limitations that are imposed. The student can challenge the decision to take precautionary action by writing to the Director of Student Life and Wellbeing, within five days of receiving the notification of the decision. 

6. What sanctions can be applied if we find that misconduct has occurred?

6.1 Sanctions can be one or more of the following: 

  • An action plan and conditions for improvement in conduct (to be reviewed within a stated time frame);
  • A verbal warning; 
  • A formal written warning; 
  • Compulsory attendance at a workshop, training and/or coaching session; 
  • An apology in person or in writing; 
  • Restorative measures relevant to the misconduct; 
  • Restrictions, such a requirement not to contact a person impacted by misconduct; 
  • Payment of repair, cleaning and/or replacement costs up to a maximum of £500;
  • Partial or full exclusion from specific events, parts or the whole of the campus; 
  • Suspension from the University for a specified period of time (no more than two academic years); 
  • Permanent expulsion from the University. 

This list is illustrative rather than exhaustive and the circumstances of each case will influence which sanction(s) are appropriate.

6.2 Suspension or expulsion from the University will only be considered as a sanction in Level Two cases.

6.3 The Disciplinary Manager or Panel (as appropriate) has the discretion to decide what sanction is appropriate. This decision will take into account:

a) the nature of the misconduct,
b) matters of mitigation and aggravation,
c) the impact of the behaviour on those who have been affected.

6.4 Any sanction will be proportionate to the act of misconduct. The reason for the decision shall be recorded in writing and shared with the student.

7. How can a decision be appealed?

Where a student wishes to appeal a decision made under this procedure, they must do so in writing clearly stating the grounds for their appeal in writing to the Academic Registrar. Any appeal must be submitted within 14 days of receiving the outcome.  

Students can appeal on the following grounds:

  • There was a procedural irregularity at the formal stage eg there was a material failure by the University to follow the student disciplinary procedure; or 
  • There is evidence of bias; or
  • The outcome was not fair and proportionate in all the circumstances (ie no reasonable decision-maker, properly directing themselves and taking into account the relevant facts, could have reached that decision); or
  • New material evidence is available which the student was unable, for valid reasons, to provide earlier in the process. 

If the Academic Registrar (or designated delegate) believes that the grounds for appeal are not satisfied, the student will be informed of the decision to reject the request for an appeal.  

If the Academic Registrar (or designated delegate) decides that the appeal is based on one or more of the permitted grounds and hence eligible to be considered, they will arrange for a review of the case to be conducted by an authorised manager. This will involve a review of the papers and may also involve a meeting with the student, the Chair of the Disciplinary Panel and/or the Disciplinary Manager who considered the case.   

The Academic Registrar (or designated delegate) will decide the outcome of the appeal, on the recommendation of the authorised appeal manager. The outcome of the review will be that the case outcome is either upheld (ie the outcome remains the same), or there is a different finding which overturns the outcome. The Academic Registrar may remit the matter to a different Disciplinary Manager / Disciplinary Panel to consider again, or reduce the sanction. 

The decision taken at the appeal stage is final. The outcome of the appeal will be communicated in writing, with reasons, usually no more than 30 days from the appeal being submitted.

Where a student remains dissatisfied with the outcome of their appeal they may take their case to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator. The complaint needs to be submitted to the OIA within 12 months of the Completion of Procedures Letter, following the appeal. 

8. What support is available for students going through this procedure?

8.1 The University provides support services that are available to all students. Support will be provided for the reported student, and any student impacted by reported misconduct.

8.2 Students can seek independent advice and support from University of York Students' Union (YUSU) and/or the Graduate Students' Association (GSA) as appropriate.

8.3 Students who have experienced sexual harassment, assault or violence can contact the Sexual Violence Liaison Officer (SVLO) for specialist support.

8.4 Students have the right to be accompanied by a member of YUSU or GSA Advice and Support team, or a member of University staff. If a student would like to be accompanied by someone other than those listed, a formal request should be made in writing. The request will be considered by the appropriate decision maker and permission may be given.

8.5 The University does not normally permit legal representation at any disciplinary meetings, but in exceptional circumstances, the University may consider external legal representation at Disciplinary Panel Hearings.

8.6 If a student has a disability or circumstances that require adjustments to allow them to participate in the procedure, this should be made known and the University will make reasonable adjustments to prevent any substantial disadvantage, eg if the student has a disability they may additionally be accompanied by a support worker. 

9. Other helpful links

Academic Misconduct Disciplinary Procedure

Guidance For Higher Education Institutions  - How To Handle Alleged Student Misconduct Which May Also Constitute A Criminal Offence - UUK and Pinsent Masons

Tackling online harassment and promoting online welfare

Changing the culture - Universities UK

The good practice framework: Disciplinary procedures - OIA

OIA student complaints