International students have seen a disproportionate number of academic misconduct cases being brought against them in the previous academic year.

67 students facing academic misconduct panels approached the University of Sussex Students’ Union’s Advice and Representation Centre in the previous academic year, for support through the process.

Students’ Union data has shown that of these 67 cases, 49 involved international students. Of these students, 30 were either postgraduate taught or research students, with all but one student studying full-time at the university.

44.9 percent of these affected international students self-identify as Asian or Asian British, and another 44.9 percent identify as being of Chinese ethnic background.

Maria Da Silva, Students’ Union Education Officer commented that: “Many of these students are confirmed to have been in attendance at study skills workshops provided by their schools at the beginning of the term, however many did not understand or realise that they were committing academic misconduct.

“The admissions policy of the University states that it ‘is committed to offering information and special assistance to applicants who need it, particularly those with a disability and those from overseas’”.

Figures have also shown that all 49 of the international students brought before academic misconduct panels were from just three schools of study: Business, Management and Economics; Engineering and Design, and Informatics.

In a joint report of July 2012, the Students’ Union Full-time Elected Officers and Advisors involved in the academic misconduct process during the 2011-12 academic year put forward a series of potential improvements to the process.

One such suggestion was for: “Better awareness amongst students of what constitutes academic misconduct”, with the need for this to be targeted at certain schools, courses and students.

The high proportion of international postgraduate students implicated in these misconduct cases does suggest that perhaps some students are less aware of University procedures and greater awareness of academic conduct is required.

Other recommendations in the report include giving students more notice of panels to allow students to adequately prepare, and scheduling more time, to ensure panels do not overrun.

Leeds University currently give 14 days notice of any such investigation.

Improving accessibility to evidence files for students and their representatives, by digitalising them, is another such proposal, along with the creation of an internal and confidential record of precedents, which would be made available to ensure consistency in all decisions made.

It is hoped that these proposals will improve the panel procedures for international as well as domestic students.

Imogen Adie

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