Cheating, disruption and harassment
A basic rule for students at Lund University is: don’t cheat. However, it is sometimes difficult, especially for new students, to know what is required. Make sure that you find out through your programme what rules apply, for example with regard to referencing and citation in essays and exams.
Four disciplinary offences in the Higher Education Ordinance
In the academic world, ‘disciplinary offences’ is the term used to refer to cheating and disruptions.
1. Deceiving in examinations or other forms of assessment of study performance – cheating
If an investigation establishes that a student has deliberately deceived in an examination or other assessment of study performance, the disciplinary board can class it as cheating and issue a penalty.
One example of cheating is using prohibited aids in an exam, such as notes on slips of paper or unauthorised notes in books. On take-home exams or written assignments, copying other people’s texts without marking them as a quotation is counted as cheating.
An attempt to cheat is sufficient for a penalty to be given, for instance taking notes into an exam with the intention of using them. You could then be guilty even if you don’t use the notes.
Especially on take-home exams, where departments often encourage a certain amount of collaboration, it is important to know that helping someone else to cheat can be regarded as cheating. Allowing someone else to copy your answers could lead to disciplinary proceedings against you.
As a student, you are responsible for making sure you understand the information provided by the department about what is and is not allowed in exams, essays, etc. Please note that there are different rules at different departments. The same department could even have different rules for different course components. It is your responsibility to read/take in the information provided!
2. Disrupting or obstructing teaching, tests or other activities within the framework of courses and study programmes at the higher education institution
If you violate the regulations, for example, in laboratory exercises or examinations, you could receive a disciplinary penalty.
3. Disrupting activities in the library of the higher education institution or other separate establishments at the institution
The libraries have rules and it is important that you follow them. The most common offence students commit is not registering their loans. Another form of disruption is using the university’s computer network for prohibited activities.
4. Subjecting another person to harassment
Harassment of another student or member of the staff of the university on the grounds of sex, transgender identity or expression, ethnicity, religion or other belief, disability, sexual orientation or age. Sexual harassment is also a disciplinary offence.
Penalties for disciplinary offences
Students found guilty of cheating or another disciplinary offence are either issued with a warning or suspended from the university for a set period of time, for example three months. This also includes suspension from examinations and other activities within the context of education.
The process for dealing with cheating or other disciplinary offences is as follows:
Suspected cases of cheating in examinations or other forms of assessment of study performance or cases of disruption or obstruction are reported to the Vice-Chancellor. The suspicions must be based on objective grounds, but the threshold is low. Suspicions on the basis of only very little factual evidence may suffice for a report to be made. Subjective intuition is not sufficient, however.
Any university employee can make a report to the Vice-Chancellor, but it is usually a head of department, examiner or similar who makes the report.
Students should be informed by their department that they are suspected of a disciplinary offence. The department is urged by the university to note what the student says in this conversation.
The Legal Division at Management Support investigates reports on behalf of the Vice-Chancellor. The department concerned does not carry out the investigation.
At an early stage of the investigation, the Legal Division informs the student that they are suspected of a disciplinary offence and the student has the opportunity to give an account of their view of the information in the report, usually in the form of a written statement. Depending on what information is given, the statement may be sent to the person who filed the report for further comments.
When the investigation into the case is complete, it is sent to the Disciplinary Board for consideration. The student is given the opportunity to attend the meeting of the Board and to speak.
It is possible that a case will end without coming before the Disciplinary Board. The Vice-Chancellor can drop a case without further action and can also issue a warning. Otherwise the case is handed over to the Disciplinary Board.
At the meeting, the Board has the chance to put questions to both the student and the department representative. Usually, the Board discusses the case behind closed doors after the meeting and then makes a decision. The student is then informed orally of the Board’s decision. The student is also sent the decision in writing within a week of the decision being made.
3. Warning or suspension
The possible penalties are a warning or suspension.
Suspension means that the student may not participate in any activity within the context of education at Lund University during the period of suspension. This means that the student is forbidden to attend teaching, examinations, seminars, enter laboratories, etc. Students can be suspended for up to a maximum of six months and do not have the right to student finance from CSN during the period of suspension.
4. What happens with the assessment of the work?
The Disciplinary Board does not decide whether an exam/essay shall be assessed. Neither can the Board decide whether an exam/essay that is assessed shall pass or fail. These issues are always decided by the examiner. Usually, the assessment of the work is delayed until the question of whether the student is guilty of a disciplinary offence has been decided.
If the student is found guilty
The examiner is not obliged to mark the exam paper or essay if the student is guilty of any form of cheating. In exceptional cases, it may be justified to assess the work despite the student being found guilty of a disciplinary offence. This could be in cases such as when a student has been found to have access to prohibited aids at such an early stage that they clearly did not have the opportunity to use them. However, even in such cases the examiner has the right to refuse to mark the exam paper, which can be regarded as invalid because the student violated an important regulation.
In cases where an exam or essay has been marked before the Disciplinary Board reaches its decision that the student is guilty of cheating, the examiner can reconsider the assessment and change the grade to a fail. Please note that it is not possible to appeal against the examiner’s decision; you can only request that the work be re-assessed.
If the student is cleared
If cheating cannot be proven, the work should normally be assessed. In exceptional cases, there may be reasons to refuse to mark an examination, despite the student being cleared of cheating, such as if a student has used prohibited aids without being aware that they were prohibited. In such cases, it is reasonable for the work not to be assessed.
Students can appeal a Disciplinary Board decision resulting in a suspension or warning to the Administrative Court.