What is Unacceptable Academic Practice (UAP)?
Some students may make an error in judgement or may simply be unaware of the rules governing academic best practice. Nevertheless, the University regulations on unacceptable academic practice (UAP) are strict and they govern cases where a student has been alleged to have undertaken unacceptable academic practice (intentionally or otherwise).
The definition of ‘unacceptable academic practice’ is multifaceted but will in general involve instances of alleged plagiarism (e.g. using another person’s work without attributing it to them), conducting poor or inadequate referencing, re-cycling your own work from other assessments, and even collusion (i.e. working with another student to present their work as your own, or vice versa).
What if you are suspected of Unacceptable Academic Practice (UAP)?
If you have been suspected as having undertaken UAP there are two ways in which cases are usually dealt:
- In some lesser cases this will typically be dealt with by the Chair of the Exam Board without being required to attend a formal panel meeting although you can request one once the outcome is confirmed.
- In all other cases you will normally be invited by email to attend a formal panel meeting chaired by your Institute Director or their nominee. This meeting is your opportunity to clarify, dispute or explain the circumstances to the Panel in advance of them deciding on whether UAP has taken place and making recommendations to the Academic Registry on appropriate penalties.
In both these cases you should be aware that ‘intention’ has nothing to do with the decision or with the penalties which apply, irrespective of whether you intended it or not.
You should attend the meeting unless you have a very good reason not to and can provide evidence to confirm this. It may be possible to rearrange the date of the meeting; contact an advisor if you feel that you have to reschedule. If you do not attend, the Panel will proceed in your absence and a decision will be made without you being able to fully explain your circumstances.
It may be possible that an advisor from the Advice Service can attend the Panel with you. We therefore recommend that you arrange to see an Advisor as soon as you receive the letter inviting you to the Panel; remember to bring along with you the letter or email inviting you and any evidence the University has provided you with. If there isn’t any evidence, ask your Department or Institute for it.
What are the penalties?
If you are found to have undertaken UAP then there is a points-based scale penalty system; you will have a copy of the scale in the email/ letter sent to you with the allegations but for information there is a link to the points-based penalty system at the end of this guide.
The scale takes into account matters such as previous record, extent and severity of UAP and your level of study, with harsher penalties for Part II students and postgraduates, who are expected to know the rules clearly by this stage.
In terms of impact, penalties range from having to re-sit the module at a later date for a capped pass mark to potentially being denied a resit opportunity. In some cases this could impact on your ability to progress into the next year of study (e.g. if you have already failed some module/s and the new penalty brings you over the permissible limit).
What if I am dissatisfied with the outcome of an Unacceptable Academic Practice Panel?
If you are dissatisfied with the outcome of the Panel you may submit an academic appeal; if you remain dissatisfied with the appeal decision, you may also submit a Final Review. Both have specific grounds and processes and you should the see our Academic Appeals guide for more details.
What can the AberSU Advice Service do to help?
The AberSU Advice Service is independent from the University and provides a free, confidential and impartial service to all Aberystwyth University students.
We recognise that being suspected of undertaking Unacceptable Practice can seem worrying, and therefore encourage you to contact the Advice Service as soon as possible.
The Advice Service can assist you in a range of ways, including:
- Explain the Unacceptable Academic Practice (UAP) process to you;
- Give you an idea of the type of questions the Panel are likely to ask as well as advise you how best to clarify, dispute or explain your circumstances;
- Accompany you to any Panels to provide support and representation;
- Advise you on potential penalties that could be imposed;
- Assist you in appealing any unfair penalty imposed.
To discuss all of your options, including what support is available to you, please contact us below:
First Produced: June 2017
Reviewed: November 2018