I thought I would take some time and share some cases I have recently been involved in –
I have been representing a student who has been investigated for plagiarism and/or collusion. Three students had similar work, student A had in fact copied from Student B and C. Student B could provide clear evidence of when student A accessed his work online, which student B had done a year previously. Student C provided detailed and substantial evidence of the authenticity of his work but was unable to provide evidence of when and how Student A would have copied his work. Student A admitted copying Student B’s work, having seen the evidence against him, but denied copying Student C’s work. Student A produced no evidence to confirm that the work presented was his own. Student A also had a previous finding of plagiarism. Student B was let off. Student A and C got the same finding of plagiarism and the same penalty. Hardly sounds right, on the balance of probabilities, as is the test. We have successfully appealed this decision.
I have just represented a social work student who was excluded from the University under the Fitness to Practise process (FTP). Absolutely no due process was followed during the FTP process, no witnesses to support any of the allegations, no signed statements and once again just the word of a tutor….Upon successful appeal of the decision the student has been reinstated.
Another case I have been involved in is representing a PhD student who was unsuccessful at their Annual Review and thus was withdrawn from the University. This case was complex in that it involved a number of physical health issues, which were seriously impacting the student’s ability to engage with their research. The University appeared to lack the understanding required and displayed a position of annoyance rather than compassion. It was quite sad to witness, because the University’s conduct really did impact the student’s feelings about their own ability. Successful Equality Act 2010 arguments were made and I am happy to report that this student has resumed their PhD.
Unfortunately not all outcomes are good, or even make sense. I have been working hard over the last year for a student who was removed from her social work degree programme under the FTP process. The initial FTP and Appeal process took place whilst the student was in her final stages of pregnancy. No witnesses were called, no substantive evidence produced and the procedure not followed, to name a few issues. However because the student had already appealed, within weeks of giving birth, and the deadline had now passed the University refused to reopen the matter, despite being able to present clear evidence of procedural breaches. This now means the student must proceed to the OIA in the hope that reason will prevail.