Education news

Students and staff disciplined by universities

A sign warning students about consequences of misconduct

HUNDREDS of university staff have been investigated for misconduct, according to new figures.

Allegations include misdemeanours such as poor time-keeping, unprofessional conduct, and "use of inappropriate imagery" in a learning environment.

Others reported cases of alleged threatening and aggressive behaviour, sexual misconduct, theft and fraud.

Figures obtained by the Press Association under the Freedom of Information Act identify at least 1,300 cases where staff have been investigated for misconduct.

Separate data from institutions in Britain and Northern Ireland shows a wide range of incidents among students, from the playful to the strictly prohibited.

Thousands of incidents were reported within halls of residence themselves. This included playing loud music at Liverpool Hope, while an undergraduate at Keele was investigated for sub-letting their own student accommodation.

Another student at Buckinghamshire received a suspended notice to quit university halls for smuggling their prohibited visitor onto campus - a pet rabbit.

Obvious breaches of fire safety cropped up again and again. This included fines for using fairy lights and chip pans, to those who tried to smoke cannabis, shisha and cigarettes undetected.

Several deployed innovative tactics to try and to dodge the smoke alarm - including one student who covered it with a sock, resulting in a £50 fine at the University of Glasgow.

The FOI response concerned student and staff misbehaviour at universities during the academic years 2014/15, 2015/16 and 2016/17.

At Ulster University, there was an annual decrease in students who received action such as a formal reprimand, warning or penalty - down from 298 in 2014/15, to 209 the following year, and 204 the year after that. There were six cases of staff misconduct in three years, with one case of negligent behaviour resulting in dismissal.

Data from Queen's University Belfast showed no major increases or decreases, except for a spike in conditional discharges and fines in 2016/17, and a sharp reduction in the number of students on an alcohol education initiative.

Eleswhere, 11 London School of Economics students who engaged in that staple of halls life - running up and down knocking on doors - were handed formal warnings.

And access to practice rooms at the Guildhall School of Music was partially removed for students who had "very, very overdue" library items.

Elsewhere, stiff penalties were meted out to those who relieved themselves in places they ought not to, although no disciplinary action was eventually taken against someone accused of urinating "on a structure in a hall car park".

Two De Montford undergraduates were each made to donate £50 to the Royal British Legion and write a letter of apology after "damaging commemorative wreaths" on campus, while students at numerous institutions were fined for damaging and/or climbing a Christmas tree.

The women's futsal team at Brighton University were involved in "some inappropriate social media posts" - forcing them to forfeit their next fixture and pay a fine.

And at Twickenham St Mary's - where a student was previously ordered to buy a replacement sandwich after eating the vice-chancellor's - a mischievous duo took someone else's car, parked it on the university rugby pitch, and wrote something on the side of the vehicle in ketchup before letting down a tyre.

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