Student discipline procedure

As a member of the University, you are expected to conduct yourself in a manner that is responsible and respectful to others, whether they are other students, members of staff, visitors to the University or members of the local community. The University is committed to the fair and equal treatment of all individuals regardless of gender, age, disability, colour, race, ethnic or national origin, socio-economic group, sexual orientation, marital status, family responsibilities, religious or political beliefs. By accepting an offer of a place at the University, you agree to abide by all relevant policies and regulations of the University (including Regulation B1: Student Discipline) which have been designed to support the University’s key values. All members of the University community have a responsibility to support each other in maintaining good order and creating a safe environment which is conducive to study, living and working.

The discipline regulation applies to all registered students of the University as well as those who have accepted the offer of a place at Keele. It applies to behaviour wherever, and whenever, it may have taken place when it is considered by the University to be detrimental to another member of the University, University property or the interests and reputation of the University itself. It includes behaviour arising at any time when you may be regarded as representing the University as an individual or as part of a team or group. It also applies whether you are living or studying on campus or at some location away from the University either as part of your studies or following an arrangement made through the University or the Students’ Union.

An offence is any behaviour which: 

  • negatively impacts Keele staff, students and visitors, and/or;
  • adversely affects the functioning or activities of the University or its reputation.

This includes but is not limited to the behaviours listed below. Offences initially classed as minor may be pursued as major offences if this was deemed more appropriate by the University following an initial enquiry.

Minor offences

(a) a first or second minor breach of University regulations, policies, accommodation licence agreements, terms and conditions, mutual resolution agreements or codes of conduct e.g. smoking in non-designated areas, ignoring fire alarms, using University IT equipment or their University IT account for downloading material from the internet which breaches copyright;

(b) failure to respond to reasonable requests or directions (verbal and written) by University staff;

(c) failure to disclose name and other relevant information to University staff, or not respond truthfully, when reasonably asked to provide this;

(d) noise disturbances, for example in halls of residence, teaching venues, or the library;

(e) possession or use of drugs** that are prohibited by the University and/or possession of drug paraphernalia for personal use. This also applies where a student knowingly allows another person to bring such or use such drugs within their allocated University accommodation:

(f) conduct which, by whatever means, disrupts the work of students or staff of the University such as disruptive behaviour in class, in the library or hindering the work of security staff;

(g) antisocial, disorderly or reckless conduct which results in minor damage to University property, or the property of staff, students and visitors that is caused intentionally or recklessly;

(h) antisocial, disorderly or reckless conduct (including via social media) which is unconducive to study, work and/or rest, or which affects the good health and safety of students, staff or visitors.

Major offences

(a) a serious or persistent breach of University regulations, policies, accommodation licence agreements, terms and conditions, mutual resolution agreements or codes of conduct;

(b) persistent minor offences, or multiple concurrent minor offences;

(c) complaints against the University or its members which are vexatious or frivolous in nature, for example motivated by malice or designed specifically to cause disruption or annoyance;

(d) inappropriate, abusive, offensive, indecent, or threatening behaviour against members of the University or its visitors, including via social media;

(e) causing or attempting to cause physical harm, injury, or mental distress, including where this was caused by controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour;

(f) failure to comply with a temporary exclusion or restriction or with a penalty imposed under this regulation;

(g) significant breach of health and safety requirements, endangering the wellbeing of students, staff and visitors (including but not exclusive to tampering with fire alarms / smoke detectors or other safety equipment in a University building);

(h) possession of firearms, other weapons and explosives, either real or imitation, on University premises;

(i) falsification or serious misuse of University documents, including certificates, transcripts, permits and letters, or falsified evidence brought forward for consideration under any University process;

(j) impersonation of others or allowing another to impersonate you, within or outside the University, in connection with academic attainments, attendance monitoring, or visa checking points;

(k) theft, fraud, misapplication of or gross negligence in connection with funds or property of any kind;

(l) offences against the criminal law, where these offences either involve other students, raise concerns regarding the safety or well-being of members of the University community, or directly affect the interests or reputation of the University;

(m) failure to declare a relevant criminal conviction or ongoing criminal legal proceedings at enrolment or re-enrolment;

(n) supply of drugs**, or possession with intent to supply drugs, that are prohibited by the University as listed in the Discipline Procedure. This also applies to the cultivation or preparation with the intent to supply such drugs within their accommodation. This also applies where a student within their allocated University accommodation knowingly allows another person to do so;

(o) offences which are covered by the University’s policies on bullying and harassment, sexual misconduct, or are otherwise in breach of the University’s core values on dignity and respect;

(p) conduct which is likely to bring the University into disrepute. 

** Illegal drugs covered under the misuse of drugs act 1971; prescribed medications covered under the Medicines Act 1968, that have not been prescribed to that individual student, or which have been tampered with to deface the details of the person to whom they have been prescribed; novel psychoactive substances and compounds that produce a psychoactive effect by stimulating or depressing the central nervous system & affect mental functioning or emotional states; in addition, students shall not use without reasonable excuse (or permit the use or preparation within their accommodation) any substances that are unfit for human consumption in a way that is potentially hazardous to health (i.e. the inhalation of solvents or gases).

Many of the breaches of the discipline regulation are also regarded as breaches of the University Residential Terms and Conditions; therefore it is very important that you familiarise yourself with the accommodation contract terms and conditions, which can be found here

The University acknowledges many different groups within its community which exist for a variety of reasons; to participate in specific activities (e.g. sporting), to share passion for a particular subject or lifestyle, culture, or religion. Groups often hold social events at various times throughout the year, which are good team-building and morale-boosting exercises. In order to ensure that these events take place in a safe and respectable manner, the University has a Code of Conduct for Group Social Events. This policy sets out how the University expects group social events to be conducted. Initiation events are not permitted. Students have the right to be a member of a group and attend these events without facing embarrassment, humiliation, or abuse from others and should not feel coerced, pressured, or forced into taking part in any games or activities. All members of the group should be sensitive to the needs, beliefs and feelings of others and should be aware of their own attitudes and behaviours, and their impact on others.

It is a disciplinary offence to breach the University's IT Conditions of Use. You should also ensure that you are familiar with this and the accompanying guidance. In particular, you should be careful about your conduct online and via social media. For more information on this, please read the University's Social Media Policy.

When an allegation of misconduct has been received, the Student Conduct and Student Discipline teams will decide if there has been a breach of the discipline regulation and, if so, whether it constitutes a minor or major breach.

Minor breaches will be investigated by an authorised officer who can impose penalties set out for minor offences. Offences initially classed as minor may be pursued as major offences if this is deemed more appropriate by the University following an initial enquiry.

Major offences will be investigated by an investigating officer who will carry out a formal investigation and submit a written report which may then be considered by a Discipline Committee. For more details on how minor and major offences are investigated please refer to the relevant sections below.

Where an allegation of serious misconduct has been made against you, a risk assessment will be carried out. This can result in immediate measures (exclusions or restrictions) being imposed on you or result in an invitation to meet with a Risk Assessment Panel before a decision is taken as to whether exclusions or restrictions are necessary. The purpose of any such measures is to safeguard you or others whilst a full and proper investigation can be carried out by the University or the police, or both, as appropriate. More details about this process are given below.

The following University officers are authorised to deal with minor offences and can impose penalties under this regulation:

  • Neil Whitehurst, Serious Incident Case Officer
  • Katy Gibson, Serious Incident Case Officer
  • Ceri Smith, Student Discipline Officer
  • Katy Lockett, Residence Life Manager
  • Kara Holloway, Residence Life Manager
  • Amy Dowd, Residence Life Manager
  • Clare Swetmore, Out-of-Hours Residence Life Manager
  • Fiona Rolfe, Out-of-Hours Residence Life Manager
  • Julie Willis, Student Support & Experience Manager
  • Janine Cresswell, Student Support & Experience Manager
  • Helen Foster-Bullock, Student Support & Experience Manager

Please note that the librarian, or nominee, is also authorised to take urgent measures under the discipline regulation if your behaviour in the library disrupts other students’ ability to study uninterrupted or the running of the library service The librarian or nominee can temporarily exclude you for up to 48 hours or may limit your access to the library to certain times for up to 72 hours.

The following University officers are also investigation officers for major offences:

  • Neil Whitehurst, Serious Incident Case Officer
  • Katy Gibson, Serious Incident Case Officer
  • Ceri Smith, Student Discipline Officer

Optional other member(s) of staff may be co-opted as investigating officers where appropriate.

We aim to take a supportive approach to a first allegation of a minor offence. The following types of incident will usually be dealt with by an educational conversation in the first instance:

  • Noise disturbances in halls
  • Smoking in a non-permitted area
  • Failure to evacuate following a fire alarm activation
  • Possession or use of drugs or drugs paraphernalia
  • Minor breach of accommodation license agreement

The educational conversation will be carried out by either a member of the Campus Safety team, a Resident Adviser or a Residence Life Manager, depending on the type of incident.

During an educational conversation, the member of staff will advise the student of why the behaviour constitutes a minor offence, and will advise on future conduct and possible penalties that may occur should the student be involved in a further discipline incident of a similar nature.

You will receive an email from an authorised officer informing you of the allegation together with the details of the information/evidence that has been considered. The email will contain the proposed outcome (including the proposed penalty) to the allegation. You will be given the opportunity to submit a response to the allegation and proposed outcome. Your response should include any mitigation, evidence or information that you wish the authorised officer to consider. If you wish to submit a response, this must be done within 14 calendar days of the email from the authorised officer. After this time, the authorised officer will consider your response (if submitted) and then issue a final outcome letter via email which will detail their decision and the penalty that has been imposed for the offence.

The authorised officer is empowered to impose any of the penalties set out for minor offences in the section below.

If at any point the authorised officer believes that the offence merits a greater penalty, or that the offence can no longer be classed as minor in accordance with this regulation, then the matter will be referred for a full discipline investigation, and the major offences procedure as set out in the section on the investigation of major offences will be initiated.

Where a student’s conduct suggests that a major offence under the discipline regulation may have been committed, and disciplinary action may need to be taken, advice on how to proceed will be sought from the Student Conduct team in the Directorate of Student and Academic Services. If it is determined by the team that the student’s conduct may constitute a sufficiently serious breach of this regulation then a formal investigation will be initiated.

The Student Conduct team will appoint an investigating officer who will carry out a detailed investigation.

If you are accused of a major offence, the investigating officer will conduct a formal interview with you and any named witnesses and other persons who may be able to provide information which will assist the investigating officer to make their report. A record of each meeting will be taken. The investigating officer may also gather other forms of evidence and documentation that are relevant to the case, such as photographs, CCTV footage, or social media communication.

Upon completion of the investigation, the investigating officer will submit a written report to the Head of Student Conduct, or nominee, who will determine whether to dismiss the case, send it back to the investigating officer as a minor offence, refer it to a formal meeting of the Discipline Committee, or refer it for consideration by chair’s action on behalf of the Discipline Committee.

If you are asked to attend a meeting of the Discipline Committee, you will be provided, normally at least 7 calendar days in advance of the meeting, with a letter (via email) which sets out the nature of the allegation(s), a copy of the documentation that will be presented to the Committee, and a list of any witnesses which the investigating officer will be calling to give evidence. You have a right to give evidence, call witnesses, and to be accompanied and/or represented by an ASK representative, a member of staff, a current student, or an elected officer of the Keele Students' Union or the Keele Postgraduate Association. Witnesses, who may or may not be members of the University, will only be allowed to attend the meeting by agreement of the Chair of the Discipline Committee and their attendance is restricted to the part of the meeting set aside to hear witness evidence.

You will normally be required to submit any statement you wish to make in response to the allegation(s), a copy of any documentation you wish to be considered and a list of any witnesses you wish to call to give evidence at least 48 hours before the meeting is to take place. The Committee may disregard any mitigation that is not accompanied by supporting evidence and/or any information or evidence which is not provided to it within the prescribed time period (normally at least 48 hours before the meeting).

The Discipline Committee will normally consist of:

  • a chair (which will be a senior academic or administrative member of staff);
  • a member of staff (either academic or administrative)
  • an elected officer from either Keele University Students’ Union or Keele Postgraduate Association

Optional other member(s) of staff may be co-opted onto the Committee where appropriate.

At the meeting, allegations will be presented by the investigating officer and you will have the opportunity to give your version of events. At the end of the meeting, the Committee will decide if an offence has been committed or if the allegation should be dismissed. Where the Committee decides that an offence has been committed, the Committee is empowered to impose any of the penalties set out for minor/major offences in the section below. In cases where the Discipline Committee recommends that you should be permanently excluded from the University, the decision will require ratification from the Deputy Vice-Chancellor. After the meeting you will be informed of the Committee's decision in writing.

‌Where an allegation of serious misconduct has been made against you, the Directorate of Student and Academic Services can decide to carry out a risk assessment. This can result in immediate measures such as exclusions or restrictions being imposed on you or result in an invitation to meet with a Risk Assessment Panel before a decision is taken as to whether exclusions or restrictions are necessary. The purpose of any such measures is to safeguard you or others whilst a full and proper investigation can be carried out by the University or the police, or both, as appropriate.

In the event that the University believes that you present a threat of harm to yourself, other students and/or members of the University or to University property, the University may temporarily exclude you from campus and/or studies, or impose restrictions on you which can include limiting your access to parts of the campus and/or University facilities and activities. Such measures are precautionary and are intended to manage risk. They are not a penalty and they do not indicate that the University believes that you have committed a breach of this regulation.

As soon as temporary restrictions or exclusions have been imposed, you will be informed of this in writing, of the timescale and manner by which the restrictions and exclusions will be reviewed, and of your right to appeal. Efforts will be made to limit, where possible, the impact of such temporary restrictions or exclusions on your studies. Any temporary exclusions or restrictions will normally remain in place while an investigation is carried out or until the outcome of criminal proceedings and/or the disciplinary process is known.

Where exclusions or restrictions have been imposed, you will be provided, normally within no more than 21 calendar days, with an opportunity to meet with a Risk Assessment Panel. The Panel will consist of representatives from Student Services and Academic Services and, where appropriate, with others such as your head of school or your academic mentor. You will be given at least 72 hours’ written notice. You are allowed to be accompanied by a member of the ASK (Advice and Support at Keele) team, a current student, an elected officer of the Keele University Students’ Union or Keele Postgraduate Association, or a member of staff. The Panel will consider any evidence available to them at that point and provide you with an opportunity to provide any additional information and to describe the impact of any restrictions already imposed on you. The Panel will then determine the appropriate course of action and inform you of this in writing which may include additional measures being taken.

Where the Panel decides that you need to be temporarily excluded from campus and/or suspended from your studies, this needs to be approved by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor or nominee.

Following the imposition of exclusions or restrictions, there will normally be an internal investigation of the case conducted by an investigating officer in line with the procedure set out above for major offences. Where the case is investigated by the police, or is subject to criminal proceedings, the internal investigation may be postponed.

The University will review temporary restrictions and/or exclusions every six weeks unless you have agreed that there is no need for regular reviews until your circumstances change. You can contact the investigating officer if you wish to contribute to these reviews or when your circumstances change. You will then normally be invited to submit a letter outlining your change of circumstance to the Panel, or exceptionally the Panel may invite you to meet with them.

In exceptional circumstances, where a risk assessment finds an immediate threat of harm, it may be necessary to impose emergency measures. These can be authorised by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor or nominee, or the Director of Student Services or nominee, or the Head of Academic Quality and Student Conduct or nominee. Where a temporary exclusion was the result of an emergency measure, this will be followed, within no more than 21 calendar days, by a meeting of the Risk Assessment Panel, the details of which are given above.

The Schedule of approved penalties for major and minor offences can be found here. Penalties can only be imposed by the Discipline Committee, or, in the case of minor offences, by an authorised officer. Failure to meet the terms set out for compliance with a penalty may lead to further disciplinary action and could lead to you not being able to attend your graduation ceremony.

All discipline cases are considered according to the individual circumstances of each case; however, in an attempt to ensure consistency and fairness to all students, the University has a standard tariff of penalties for the most common offences that it deals with which can be found here - Discipline offences and penalties.

This information is for guidance only; these are not strict instructions and penalties and fines may be varied depending on the nature of individual cases.

In very exceptional circumstances, you may be entitled to lodge an appeal against disciplinary action taken against you. To do so, one or more of the follow criteria must be fulfilled: 

i) Procedural irregularity in the conduct of the case;

ii) There is new evidence that can be substantiated, including exceptional circumstances, which was not known at the time, and may have affected the outcome had it been known to the Authorised Officer/Discipline Committee and that there is a valid reason for not making it known at the time. 

Details of the appeal process can be found here.

If you require advice and support, please contact Advice and Support at Keele (ASK) in the Students' Union:

Tel: +44 (0)1782 734800

If you have any questions about the disciplinary process, please contact Student Appeals, Complaints and Conduct Team.

If you are student, or member of staff, and have concerns about a student's behaviour you can find out how to report a concern and how we will respond to it on our current students page.

If you are a member of the local community, information on how to report concerns about a student's behaviour, can be found here