Regulation B1: Student Discipline

Access the previous versions of this Regulation here.

1. Introduction

1.1 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 which have been designed to support the University’s key values.

1.2 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. Wherever possible, the University will address concerns and minor cases through early intervention and aim to develop students’ understanding of what constitutes acceptable behaviour before taking disciplinary action. When the University receives an allegation of misconduct, the University will decide on the most appropriate course of action which may include referral for informal or mutual resolution or closing the case without further investigation.

2. Scope

2.1 This regulation applies to all registered students of the University as well as those who have accepted the offer of a place to study 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. It includes, but is not limited to, behaviour arising at any time when the student may be regarded as representing the University as an individual or as part of a team or group. It also applies when the student is living or studying on campus or at a location away from the University either as part of their studies or following an arrangement made through the University or the Students’ Unions.

2.2 The Students’ Union has its own internal procedures and bye-laws for resolving breaches of its constitution which include the possibility of referring serious cases to the University. Details are available from the Students’ Union. Where an alleged breach of discipline is deemed serious, the University reserves the right to also consider the breach under its own regulations.

2.3 Where the University or the person making the complaint does not consider it necessary or desirable for the case to be taken through the formal discipline route, the University may decide instead to refer the case for informal or mutual resolution or send a formal warning letter urging the student to cease their inappropriate behaviour. In cases where, despite such efforts to resolve the matter, a student does not cease and desist from their inappropriate behaviour, the University will commence disciplinary action.

2.4 University members of staff are entitled to take immediate action to deal with disruptive or dangerous student behaviour. Such action may be in response to breaches against local codes of behaviour or conduct, and sanctions will usually consist of removal of the student for the duration of a specific activity. Such reasonable and proportionate immediate action may also be taken by officers of the University in order to protect the safety of the campus community and prevent harm, restore order, safeguard the reputation of the University or gather evidence to support further disciplinary investigation under this regulation.

3. Partner Institutions

3.1 Students studying for a Keele University award delivered at or by a partner institution and who are registered students of that partner institution come under the jurisdiction of the regulations for student conduct of the partner institution concerned, unless specified differently in the legal agreement. This regulation does not therefore apply to students studying at a partner institution except for partner institutions that operate in collaboration with the University and share the University’s campus facilities.

4.  Disciplinary Offences

4.1 The University will consider as an offence any behaviour which: 

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

The following list is divided into minor and major offences. Minor offences are typically dealt with directly by an authorised officer whereas major offences will normally be investigated by an investigating officer and then referred to the University Discipline Committee.

Note: Offences initially classed as minor may be pursued as major offences if this is deemed more appropriate by the University following an initial enquiry.

4.2 Minor Offences: The indicative list of minor offences includes, but is not limited to, the following:

(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.

(i) failure to self-isolate when required to do so.

4.3 Major Offences: The indicative list of major offences includes, but is not limited to, the following:

(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.

5. Initial Risk-based Measures

5.1 Where an allegation of serious misconduct has been made against you, the Academic Registry can decide to carry out a risk assessment. This can result in immediate measures (exclusions or restrictions, as described in paragraph 5.2) 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.

5.2 If the University believes that you may present a threat of harm to yourself  or to others, or to University property, the University can 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.

5.3 Exceptionally, in 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 Academic Registrar or nominee, or the Head of Academic Quality and Student Conduct or nominee. 

5.4 If your behaviour in the library disrupts other students’ ability to study uninterrupted or the running of the library service the librarian, or nominee, is authorised to take urgent measures under this regulation. 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 Risk Assessment Panel will then review the case and will either dismiss the case or impose, where necessary, longer temporary restrictions.

5.5 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.

5.6 If you are enrolled on a programme that requires you to undertake practical training in a professional role involving patients, pupils, clients, or service users, or where the end qualification provides a direct licence to practise or is a requirement for a licence to practise, you can also be temporarily suspended from your studies by a School Health and Conduct Committee or the University Fitness to Practise Committee under Regulation B5 Fitness to Practise.

5.7 If your mental or physical wellbeing adversely affects your behaviour on campus to an extent that gives the University grave cause for concern, risk-related measures to safeguard you and members of the University may be imposed under this regulation and/or your case can be referred for consideration under Regulation B4 Fitness to Study.

5.8 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.

5.9 Minor offences will not in themselves result in a temporary exclusion from studies unless there are additional safeguarding concerns.

6. Meetings with The Risk Assessment Panel

6.1 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 Registry and, where appropriate, with others such as your head of school or your personal tutor. You will be given at least 72 hours’ written notice. You are allowed to be accompanied as set out in Section 12. 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.

6.2 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.

6.3 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. 

6.4 If you have had restrictions or exclusions imposed upon you and you are also an employee of the University or the Students’ Union, the Director of Human Resources and/or the Students’ Union will be notified for consideration as to whether any further action is required under their procedures.

7. Overlap with Criminal Proceedings or other University Regulations

7.1 Where a police investigation or criminal proceedings have been, or are likely to be initiated in relation to the alleged act of misconduct, the University will usually suspend its disciplinary process under this regulation until such investigation or proceedings have been concluded. Temporary restrictions and/or exclusions can still be applied during this time; they are precautionary and will be based on risk assessment considerations. The disciplinary process can be resumed fully, or in part, at any stage should the University deem this necessary in the circumstances.

7.2 When criminal proceedings have ended, whatever the outcome, the University will normally resume its disciplinary investigation to conclude its procedures.

7.3 Any criminal conviction may constitute a major misconduct offence under this regulation. Therefore, the University reserves the right to undertake its own investigation to consider the case to ascertain whether the case should proceed to the Discipline Committee. This will normally include gathering relevant information from the court, including the sentence passed by the court. The Head of Student Conduct or nominee will then determine whether to dismiss the case or refer it to a formal meeting of the Discipline Committee. Exceptionally it may be referred for consideration by chair’s action on behalf of the Discipline Committee.  Where criminal proceedings have resulted in a custodial sentence of 12 months or more, the Head of Student Conduct can recommend to the Deputy Vice-Chancellor that the student is permanently excluded from the University.

7.4 If your programme of study is covered by Regulation B5 (Fitness to Practise) and you are subject to action for an alleged or proven disciplinary offence, this information will be disclosed to your school, so that any implications regarding fitness to practise and any student professional registration issues can be considered.

8. Appeals against Temporary Exclusions

8.1 If the Risk Assessment Panel has imposed temporary restrictions and/or exclusions on you, you have the right to appeal against this to the Director of Student Services. Such an appeal should normally be lodged in writing with the Director of Student Services within 14 calendar days from the date of the letter informing you of the temporary restrictions/exclusions.

8.2 The Director of Student Services may accept the appeal and lift the temporary restrictions and/or exclusions, or modify the terms of the temporary restrictions and/or exclusions, or reject your appeal so that the temporary restrictions and/or exclusions remain in force. You will be informed of the decision of the Director of Student Services in writing.

8.3 In the event of a conflict of interest, the Director of Student Services will nominate an appropriate member of staff to deal with your appeal on their behalf. If this is the case, you will be notified of the name of the nominated person in writing.

9. Discipline Investigations     

9.1 The University will normally investigate all allegations of disciplinary offences but reserves the right not to take a case forward if there is no likelihood that an offence can be proven. Equally, the University reserves the right not to take a case forward to investigation where the alleged behaviour, even if proven, would not amount to misconduct as defined by this regulation.

9.2 A list of authorised and investigating officers who are permitted by the University to investigate alleged misconduct offences and impose penalties for minor offences is published in the Discipline Procedure.  

9.3 Investigation of minor offences: in cases of alleged minor offences, an authorised officer will conduct a timely, fair and reasonable enquiry into the alleged offence. Any enquiry will ensure that you are made aware of the details of any complaint or allegation against you and have the opportunity to respond before a decision is reached by the authorised officer. Authorised officers are empowered to impose any of the penalties set out for minor offences in the Discipline Procedure.  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 case will be referred for a full discipline investigation by an investigating officer, and the major offences procedure as set out in paragraph 9.6 will be initiated. Subject to any successful appeal, decisions of the authorised officer are final, and the authorised officer will inform you of the outcome in writing.

9.4 Investigation of major offences: where your conduct suggests that a major offence under this regulation may have been committed and disciplinary action may need to be taken, the Student Conduct Team will determine whether your conduct may constitute a sufficiently serious breach of this regulation to necessitate a formal investigation.

9.5 The Student Conduct Team will appoint an investigating officer to carry out an investigation. The scope of the investigation will be determined by what is timely, fair and reasonable.

9.6 The investigating officer will normally conduct interviews with you and may also contact witnesses and other persons who may be able to provide information. The information provided will allow the investigating officer to prepare a written report. 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.

9.7 Once the investigation is complete, 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 studying on a professional programme which is covered by the Fitness to Practise Regulation B5, the Discipline Committee may consider the case but refer it to the University Fitness to Practise Committee for a final decision.

9.8 Where a discipline investigation cannot be concluded before you graduate or withdraw from your studies, the University may complete its procedures under this regulation by considering the case at a meeting of the Discipline Committee after you have left the University, usually to determine whether you would be allowed to return to the University immediately or at a later date for further study. The University may alternatively record an open case against you, to be resumed should you wish to return to the University at a later stage. 

10. The Discipline Committee

10.1 Members and chairs of the Discipline Committee are carefully selected and trained to deal with disciplinary matters. A meeting of the Discipline Committee is quorate if it consists of:

(a) a chair;

(b) at least one other committee member (staff);

(c) 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.

10.2 You will be invited to a meeting of the Discipline Committee. Beforehand you will be provided, normally at least seven calendar days in advance of the meeting, with a letter which sets out the nature of the allegation(s), a copy of the documentation that will be considered by the Committee and a list of any witnesses who will be called to give evidence. 

10.3 You and the investigating officer may call witnesses to speak at the meeting. Witnesses 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. Witnesses will be instructed that their testimony has to be truthful and that, if it is found to be otherwise, it may constitute a disciplinary offence.

10.4 You will normally be required to submit a statement in response to the allegation, a copy of any documentation you wish to be considered and a list of any witnesses you wish to call at least 48 hours before the meeting. If you bring forward circumstances as mitigation for your actions, this has to be supported by appropriate evidence. The Committee can disregard any evidence which was not provided in advance of the meeting (normally at least 48 hours).

10.5 The Discipline Committee will consider the allegation(s) and decide if a disciplinary offence has been committed or if the allegation(s) has not been proven on the balance of probabilities.  Where the Discipline Committee decides that an offence has been committed, the Committee can impose penalties including any of the penalties set out for minor/major offences in the Discipline Procedure. The Discipline Committee can also impose other permanent measures for safeguarding purposes.

10.6 If you fail to attend the meeting, the Discipline Committee can consider your case in your absence.

10.7 Where you have admitted to an offence and a standard penalty can be applied, your case will normally be dealt with by chair’s action on behalf of the Committee without the need for the case to be considered by a full meeting of the Discipline Committee.

10.8 The decisions of the Discipline Committee are final, and you will be informed of the outcome in writing. In cases where the Discipline Committee recommends that a student be permanently or temporarily excluded from the University, the decision will require final approval from the Deputy Vice-Chancellor.

11. Standard and Burden of Proof

11.1 Authorised officers and the Discipline Committee considering an allegation have to decide whether there is sufficient evidence to establish, on the balance of probabilities (that it is more likely than not), that an offence has been committed. The burden of proof that a breach of this regulation has occurred rests with the University.  This means that it is necessary to prove that it is more likely than not that a breach occurred before any penalty can be imposed.  Decisions must be supported by evidence; it is not enough to simply believe that something is likely to have happened.  This requirement means that there may be some cases in which the University decides that it is not appropriate to take or continue action under this regulation. 

11.2 In exceptional circumstances, where a major discipline offence cannot be proven on the balance of probabilities, the Committee can consider whether the evidence is sufficient, on the balance of probabilities, to find a different or lesser offence proven. 

12. Available Support and Representation

12.1 You have the right to be accompanied to any discipline-related meetings, including interviews, Risk Assessment Panel or Discipline Committee meetings. This would normally be 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.

12.2 The University has the discretion to accept other supporters including legal representatives, where this is deemed necessary.  If you wish to be accompanied by an external representative you must make a formal request for consideration via the Student Appeals, Complaints and Conduct team. If your request is approved, your representative may attend the parts of the meeting that you are invited to attend, even if you choose not to attend in person.

12.3 You must tell the University who from within the University will accompany you at least 48 hours in advance of the meeting. That person can attend the parts of the meeting that you are invited to attend and may do so even if you choose not to attend.

13. Confidentiality and Record Keeping

13.1 Cases will be handled with an appropriate level of confidentiality and due consideration for data protection. Personal information is shared with or released normally only to those who are part of the University’s disciplinary and fitness to practise procedures, and other relevant staff of the University as appropriate.

13.2 If it is determined that an offence has been committed, the outcome of the disciplinary process will be placed on your student record and will also be sent to the student concerned, the relevant head(s) of school and other relevant officers of the University.

13.3 Where the discipline case was the result of a complaint from a student, the University can determine whether it is appropriate to inform the reporting student of the outcome of the case and any penalty applied. The University will balance this in each case with its obligations under data protection legislations. 

14. Penalties

14.1 A list of penalties suggested for minor and major disciplinary offences is published on the website.  Penalties can only be imposed by the Discipline Committee, or, in the case of minor offences, by an authorised officer.

14.2 Where a student fails to comply with a penalty, this may lead to further disciplinary action. Failure to comply with a discipline penalty may lead to a student not being able to attend their graduation ceremony. 

15. Appeals

15.1 A student has the right to appeal against the final decision of an authorised officer in relation to minor offences, the final decision of the Discipline Committee, and the penalties that are imposed.  Appeals forms must be submitted within 10 calendar days of the official notification of the disciplinary decision. Appeals may only be made on one or both of the following grounds:

(a) procedural irregularity in the conduct of the case;

(b) 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 there is a valid reason for not making it known at the time.

15.2 Each appeal will be reviewed in the first instance by a Chair of the University Discipline Committee not previously involved with the case. The Chair will decide whether there are valid grounds for appeal or if there is some other compelling reason why the appeal should be considered.  

15.3 If the appeal is against an outcome imposed by an authorised officer, the Chair can either accept the appeal and amend the previous outcome, or the appeal can be rejected. If the appeal is against the decision of the Discipline Committee and if the Chair agrees that there is a case to be heard, the case will be considered by the Discipline Appeals Committee. The members of the Discipline Appeals Committee considering the appeal will be different to the original Discipline Committee.  

15.4 In the event of a conflict of interest, the Chair will nominate an appropriate member of staff to deal with your appeal on their behalf. If this is the case, you will be notified of the name of the nominated person in writing.

16. Grievance to Council

16.1 In very exceptional circumstances, following exhaustion of the appeals procedure, it may be permissible for a student to lodge a grievance if it fulfils one or both of the following criteria:

(a) procedural irregularity in the conduct of the appeal;

(b) 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 relevant Committee at the time and there is a valid reason for not making it known at the time.

16.2 Grievances will be considered under the provisions of Ordinance D3: Grievances Considered by Council and must be submitted in writing within 14 calendar days of the letter informing the student of the outcome of their appeal.

16.3 Grievances to Council represent the completion of the University’s internal procedures. When the process is exhausted and the student has been issued with a Completion of Procedures letter, students who remain dissatisfied may contact the Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA) for Higher Education, which provides an independent review of student complaints.