What is a disciplinary misdemeanour?
Chapter 10 in the Higher Education Ordinance (HF) contains regulations about disciplinary measures for students.
The Disciplinary Board deals with cases where the following types of misdemeanours have been committed:
- with non-permissible aids or in other ways attempting to mislead in the assessment of a study achievement (cheating),
- disturbing or obstructing teaching, examination or other activities within the framework of the educational programme or course at the institution,
- disturbing the activities in the Library of the institution or other separate establishments at the institution or,
- exposing another student or an employee at the institution to harassment.
A well-grounded suspicion of the occurrence of any of these misdemeanours is to be reported speedily to the Vice-Chancellor.
Some examples of the different types of disciplinary misdemeanours follow below:
1. The first type of misdemeanour concerns attempt to cheat. For a disciplinary measure to be taken against a student, it must first have been shown that the student intended to mislead, or had initiated a performance of misleading, at an examination or at the assessment of a study achievement.
Misleading means that someone is conveyed an incorrect understanding. As examples of misleading (cheating) one may mention the use of non-permissible means at an examination, for example, “cribs”, non-permissible literature or non-permissible notes made in permitted literature. Also non-permissible mechanical or electronic aids (e.g. a mobile telephone, plagiarized material from databases or the Internet) can constitute examples of attempt to mislead in regard to knowledge at an examination, take-home examination, compositions/papers or laboratory work.
Misleading can also take place through measures taken after an examination. An example of this type of misleading is a change of an answer at the examination after the conclusion of the examination or a change of the points that the teacher making the assessment has put down (Nils Jareborg, “Disciplinansvar för studenter som fuskar eller stör [Disciplinary responsibility for students who cheat or disturb]”).
At educational items such as take-home examinations or laboratory work, where the teacher often encourages a certain amount of collaboration, it is important to understand that it will also be considered as cheating if two students help each other to cheat. A student can, in other words, become the object of a disciplinary measure if he/she permits another student to copy his/her answers.
It is required that the act of misleading concerns something that is relevant to the assessment of the study achievement for the act to be judged as a disciplinary case (Jareborg).
As a student, You have the responsibility to take part of the information that the schools provide in regard to what is and what is not allowed at an examination, compositions/papers etc. Different rules may also apply to different course assignments. It is Your responsibility to take part of the information that is given.
2. Misdemeanours according to the second item in the Higher Education Ordinance in the relevant section mean that disciplinary measures may be taken when a student obstructs or disturbs the teaching, examination or other activity within the framework of the educational programme or course. This can be a matter of transgression of school regulations with the effect that the activity is disturbed. The notion of “activity” can in this context comprise all forms of study-specific activities, also practical items that have been located to other places than the premises of the higher education institution (Jareborg).
3. According to the third item in the Higher Education Ordinance there are possibilities to take disciplinary measures against students who transgress the regulations of the libraries. The most common misdemeanour in this context is that students fail to register their loans of the library books. An example of another separate establishment is, according to the ordinance, computer rooms and computer sections.
4. A form of harassment referred to in item four is sexual harassment. Other forms that may constitute a disciplinary misdemeanour comprise harassment owing to ethnicity, religion or a special creed, sexual preferences or disabilities.
It is important to point out that the information above is not complete. Each disciplinary case is judged based on all the circumstances that exist in the individual case.
The disciplinary measures that may come into question at a misdemeanour are warnings or suspension (according to Chapter 10 § 2 in the Higher Education Ordinance). Disciplinary measures may not, according to the Higher Education Ordinance, be invoked more than two years after a misdemeanour has been committed.
A warning is communicated either by the Vice-Chancellor or by the Disciplinary Board, if the case has been referred to the Board.
If the Vice-Chancellor determines to issue a warning, the student may request that the decision be submitted to the Disciplinary Board for examination. It is important to inform the student about this right.
A decision of suspension will be communicated by the Disciplinary Board and will be put into force immediately, unless otherwise prescribed in the decision. Suspension may take place during one or several periods, however, during maximum six months. A decision of suspension means that the student during the period of suspension may not participate in any form of activities within the framework of the education at the higher education institution, i.e., prohibition to participate in lectures, seminars, laboratory work, examination, supervision etc.. A decision of suspension also means that the student is forbidden to use the IT resources of the higher education institution and a prohibition to visit the premises of the institution.
When a student is suspended notification is given to, among others, the concerned school, the IT department, the Student Affairs Office at the higher education institution and the Central Study Support Board (CSN).
The student can appeal against a decision of warning or suspension taken by the Disciplinary Board to the Administrative Court.
What happens with the examination…
…if a student is given a warning or suspension by the Disciplinary Board?
It is important to know that the Disciplinary Board and Vice-Chancellor cannot decide whether to pass or fail an examination/paper, when a student is being suspected of having attempted to mislead in regard to her/his knowledge; the examination of the Disciplinary Board does not cover this matter. The teacher appointed as examiner for the course will determine this. The normal procedure is that the assessment of the examination is postponed until the matter concerning the student having cheated or not is determined. The teacher can then make a decision in the matter of the examination. However, the examiner does not have the obligation to do the examining of the test or paper in question if the student is found guilty of cheating (Jareborg). Neither does the examiner have to await a disciplinary decision if it is judged that the student’s achievement does not fulfil the requirements for a grade of passing.
A decision about a grade can be re-examined if cheating has been established. If cheating has not been proven, an examination should, however, normally take place.
…if a student is cleared of suspicion by the Disciplinary Board?
If cheating cannot be proven the examination should, normally, take place. In exceptional cases it may be motivated to refuse to do the examining of a test, despite the fact that it has not been possible to prove that the student has acted with intent to mislead in regard to her/his knowledge. Non-permissible aids may have been used without the requirements for disciplinary measures as stated in Chapter 10 § 1 in the Higher Education Ordinance being fulfilled. This may be the case if the student has used non-permissible aids without having understood that these were not allowed. In such a case it may be reasonable not to conduct the examining of a test.
The student can appeal against a decision of suspension or warning taken by the Disciplinary Board to the Administrative Court.
The appeal has to be in writing and the writ has to include reference to the decision appealed against and state the change of decision that is requested. The appeal is to be addressed to the Administrative Court in Växjö, but it is to be sent or handed in to the registrar at Blekinge Institute of Technology. The appeal is to have reached the higher education institution within three weeks from the day that the student was informed about the decision. If the student was present at the meeting and was communicated the decision at that point, the period is counted from this day. Otherwise the decision will be sent to the student with notice of delivery, and the time for the decision will be counted as from the day that the letter is retrieved.
A writ with the appeal and other documents pertaining to the case will be handed over by the higher education institution to the Administrative Court in Växjö without delay.