Essential Information for Students - ACADEMIC SESSION 2021/22
1 Coronavirus (Covid - 19) Statement
The University is operating under particular restrictions arising from the Coronavirus emergency. Regular updates for students can be found on the University website under Student FAQs at Coronavirus Advice .
We will continue to keep this webpage updated. Should there be any major changes we will inform the University community directly.
Students should observe all guidance issued by the University concerning the health and safety of students and staff.
Students staying in University residential accommodation have been provided with specific guidance, to which they should adhere.
A student who fails to adhere to reasonable instructions from the University arising from the University’s response to the coronavirus emergency (COVID-19) will be in breach of the Student Discipline Code Regulation 2.3 (m).
Terms and Conditions
Every effort has been made to ensure that the information contained in this document is accurate at the time of publication. The University will use all reasonable endeavours to provide programmes of study listed in the prospectus and to deliver them in accordance with the descriptions of programmes set out. However, as the University is committed to ensuring that programmes remain up to date and relevant, it reserves the right to discontinue, merge or combine programmes and to make variations to the content or method of delivery of programmes, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. This, combined with the need to publish the prospectus well in advance, means that changes to the information presented in the prospectus may have occurred. Intending applicants are advised to visit the University website Study Here or contact firstname.lastname@example.org before applying. The content curriculum of a programme may change for a number of reasons, including that:
- The change is required to ensure that the programme continues to deliver its key learning outcomes and the content of the programme is responsive to changes and developments in the areas covered by the programme;
- For programmes leading to professional qualifications, accreditation or registration, the changes are required to continue to satisfy pre-requisites of a particular professional or regulatory body responsible for awarding such qualification, accreditation or registration;
- The change is not a material change to the content or curriculum;
- The change operates for the benefit of the students on the programme;
- The change is required due to circumstances outside the control of the University;
- It is necessary to ensure that the programme continues to align with the University’s aims, strategy and mission.
Remedies for students impacted by any such change may include, but are not limited to, provision of alternative modules or programmes or the option to transfer to another programme at the University. It may be desirable or necessary to withdraw certain programmes from the University’s portfolio of provision as a result of a number of factors including changes in patterns of demand from prospective students, changes in staffing, a strategic realignment of the University’s portfolio or a major organisational change. The University will use its best endeavours to consult meaningfully with students who would be affected by any such change in order to assess any impact on students and mitigate any disruption arising from the change and to identify appropriate alternative arrangements. Arrangements to support the academic interests of existing students impacted by any programme withdrawal will be put in place. In all cases, the University will make every effort to advise students at the earliest possible opportunity of any changes to the course content or curriculum that may impact upon them.
The University shall not be liable for failure to perform any its obligations if such failure is caused by any act or event beyond the University's reasonable control including acts of God, war, terrorism, industrial disputes (including disputes involving the University's employees), fire, flood, storm and national emergencies ("Force Majeure Event"). If the University is the subject of a Force Majeure Event, it will take all reasonable steps to minimise the disruption to students.
An offer of a place at the University is made on the understanding that, in accepting the offer, the student undertakes to observe and comply with these Terms and Conditions and to abide by, and to submit to the procedures of, the University’s Regulations, Policies and Codes of Conduct, as amended from time to time.
The University’s Regulations, Policies and Codes of Conduct are set out in full within the University’s website under Regulations, Policies and Procedures. Changes to the University’s Regulations may be made from time to time for one or more of the following reasons: to reflect changes to the statutory requirements with which the University is required to comply; to reflect best practice regulation across the higher education sector and more broadly; to ensure that theUniversity’s Regulations remain fit for purpose as a result of changes or developments within the University and across the higher education sector. Where the University’s Regulations are changed and the operation of a new regulation would place a student in a less favourable position than they would otherwise have been under the old regulations, that student may rely on the old regulation as if it continued to apply. Whether a student would be in a less favourable position is a matter to be determined by the University on a case by case basis, depending on the facts and circumstances of a particular student. This would not apply to a situation where the new regulations seek to address a previously unregulated matter. All policies and procedures are subject to regular review and formal approval by the appropriate committee. The University Court has agreed that the University, recognising the need to protect the health of students, staff and visitors to the University, should aspire over time to become a non-smoking campus. The University is currently reviewing its Smoking Policy with a view to achieving this aspiration. Students’ attention shall be drawn to any amendments to policy in this area.
Applicants will have 14 days from receipt of their offer to challenge their Fee status. Only exceptionally will changes to Fee status be considered after the 14 day period. Applicants who accept an offer by distance communication (for example, via UCAS or online, without face to face contact) have a legal right to cancel the contract at any time within 14 days of the date of acceptance of the offer. Where an applicant wishes to cancel the contract within 14 days of acceptance, they must do so by informing the University in writing. Where an applicant cancels within the 14 day period after acceptance, any advance payment made by that applicant shall be refunded in full. Notwithstanding the aforementioned rights to cancel within the initial 14 day period from acceptance, applicants may withdraw from study at the University, and cancel the contract at any time after registration, by following the University’s withdrawal procedure. Where the contract is cancelled in this way, applicants may lose all or part of the tuition fees paid by them or on their behalf, in accordance with University Procedures. The University may cancel the contract at any time in accordance with the University’s Regulations, Policies and Codes of Conduct.
Tuition fees are payable for all programmes and are subject to review annually. Tuition fees for new and existing students are liable to increase each year as a result of review. For continuing students, any increase in the level of fee each year will be subject to a maximum percentage equivalent to the higher of the annual increase in the UK Retail Prices Index and 5%. Factors that will determine the need for, and extent of, any increase include any increase set or prescribed by regulatory bodies such as the Scottish Funding Council, Scottish Government, Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS) and the UK Government, and/or increases in the costs of delivering and administering the programme. Tuition fees for the forthcoming academic session are published on the QMU website well in advance of the start of that academic year. Details on tuition fees and other charges can be found on our website under Tuition Fees and Charges. All students who are continuing with their studies should review their fee rates prior to starting their next academic session. No student will be deemed to be fully matriculated until his or her tuition fees have been paid in full, or satisfactory evidence is produced that such fees will be paid by a sponsoring authority. No student will be permitted to attend a graduation ceremony, or to proceed to the next year of their programme until tuition fees for all preceding years have been paid in full. Failure to settle tuition fees by the due date may lead to a student being excluded from attendance at classes. Ensuring tuition fees are paid is the responsibility of the student and, in the event of a student’s sponsoring authority refusing or failing to make payment in full or in part, the student will be held personally liable for payment. Students will also be liable for any travel and accommodation costs incurred whilst on placement. Such costs may be paid by a sponsoring authority but should a sponsoring authority refuse or fail to do so, the student will be personally liable for such costs.
For some programmes, an additional fee may be payable in respect of registration with a professional body. Additional charges will be made in respect of graduation and, where applicable, reassessment. Full details of registration fees and other charges are set out under Tuition Fees and Charges on our website and students are also personally liable for such fees.
Tuition Fees become due on the first day of study and should be paid within 21 days of the due date, or an arrangement made with the Finance Office for payment to be made by instalments. Where a student has opted to pay by instalments, a direct debit mandate must be completed prior to, or at the time of, matriculation. For returning students a new Direct Debit form is required for each year of study. If students experience payment difficulties resulting in tuition fees remaining unpaid for 21 days after falling due, interest on the full amount at 2.5% above the UK clearing bank base rate may be charged. Where payment is being made by instalments, interest will run on an instalment from the due date to the date when the instalment is paid. Where a student encounters difficulty in paying tuition fees, they are required to contact the Credit Controller at the University Finance Office for assistance in drawing up a payment schedule. Any payment schedule drawn up by the Credit Controller must be adhered to by the student until the fees in question are paid in full. Where no payment schedule has been arranged with the Credit Controller and tuition fees remain outstanding 8 weeks after the end of the 21 day period, or where an instalment is over 4 weeks late, a student may be asked to leave the University and the debt shall be transferred to a debt collector. If outstanding fees are then paid prior to the end of the academic year, the University may permit a student to be reinstated. However, where the University agrees to such a reinstatement, a student may be required to repeat parts of any programme which have been missed, resulting in additional fees being incurred. Students who leave the University more than 28 days after the start of a programme of study will be liable for the appropriate proportion of the fee, based on semesters attended in whole or in part.
The University may withdraw or amend its offer or terminate a student’s registration at the University, if it finds that a false or materially misleading statement has been made in, or significant information has been omitted from, a student’s application form.
Admission to some degree programmes offered by the University, and to some of the professions for which it provides training, may be precluded by certain medical conditions. Students are obliged to include information regarding any medical condition, past or present, which may affect their participation on a programme when completing their UCAS or Queen Margaret University application form. If an individual has any doubt as to the effect that a medical or health-related condition may have on their application, they must contact the programme Admissions Tutor who will be able to advise accordingly. The University does not warrant or guarantee that a student admitted to a particular programme will necessarily be allowed to complete the programme if the student subsequently suffers from or contracts any material medical or health condition. All applicants are asked to disclose criminal convictions to help safeguard the welfare of our students. Applicants for certain programmes of study must declare all criminal convictions, and in these cases the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 does not apply. As a condition of entry, candidates for these programmes will be required to provide a satisfactory Enhanced Disclosure from the Criminal Records Bureau, Disclosure Scotland, or an appropriate equivalent. If an applicant has any doubt as to the effect a criminal conviction may have on their application, they must contact the programme Admissions Tutor who will be able to advise accordingly.
To safeguard the welfare of staff, students, visitors and the general public, the University scrutinises all criminal convictions declared by applicants. Continuing students must declare at the point of matriculation any criminal conviction acquired in the previous 12 months. The existence of a criminal conviction itself does not preclude entry to the University, but admission to, or progression within particular programmes may be precluded by certain types of convictions. Any student who is found to have falsified their self-declaration at the point of application or at matriculation will be subject to disciplinary action.
Whilst programmes are designed to prepare students for employment, the University does not warrant or guarantee that students will obtain employment as a result of successfully completing any programme.
The University does not accept responsibility, and expressly excludes all liability, to the full extent permitted by law, for any loss, damage or injury incurred by a student or to their property, whether in connection with their studies or not, except in circumstances where the student has suffered personal injury or death caused by the negligence of the University or its employees. In particular, the University shall not be liable for any loss of, or damage to, any computer or electronic data or information owned or used by a student.
Personal information on students will be held and processed according to the General Data Protection Regulations and the Data Protection Act (2018). This information will be used by the University to fulfil its part of the contract between it and the student. As part of the contract, the University is also required to release certain information on the student population to government agencies. Full details of the way in which the University uses students’ information are provided in the Student Privacy Statement which is issued as part of the matriculation process.
Every matriculated student is automatically a member of the Students’ Union. However under the 1994 Education Act, students have the right to opt out of being a member should they wish.
Academic Appeals Regulations
These regulations take effect from October 2014 and supersede all previous regulations.
These regulations should be read in conjunction with the University’s Extenuating Circumstances Policy.
Under these regulations, a University officer may act through their properly appointed nominee.
1 Right to Academic Appeal
An 'appeal' is a request for a review of a decision of a Board of Examiners that has been charged with decisions on student progression, assessment and awards. The appeal may be in respect of any decision that affects the student’s grade or progress.
2 Nature of the appeal
Those hearing the appeal will not attempt to re-examine the student, nor to appraise the professional judgement of the examiners, but will consider whether or not the decision of the Board of Examiners was fair, and whether or not all relevant factors were taken into account.
3 Time limit
The appeal must be submitted in writing to the University Secretary within 21 days of the publication of the decision of the Board of Examiners, or receipt of the academic transcript.
An extension to this time limit will be permitted only in exceptional circumstances e.g. when, for reasons outside their control, a student did not receive timely notification of their result.
4 Grounds for an appeal
4.1 The grounds for appeal are as follows:
4.1.1 additional information is available that was not, and could not, reasonably have been made available to the Board at the time it made its original decision and which had it been available could have led the Board to making a different decision (see also 4.3 below);
4.1.2 there was a material irregularity in the procedures of the Board of Examiners or in the conduct of the assessment.
4.2 A student may NOT appeal on grounds which:
- could have been considered by the Board of Examiners had notice been given prior to the meeting; and
- the student has no valid reason for having failed to give such notice.
4.3 References in 4.1 and 4.2 to information available to the Board of Examiners include recommendations on student cases made by the Extenuating Circumstances Panel (EC Panel). Appeals on the grounds of extenuating circumstances will not be accepted where there is evidence that the circumstances that form the basis of the submission could have been submitted to the EC Panel by the published deadline, and the student has no grounds for not submitting by that deadline.
4.4 A student’s disagreement with the academic judgement of a Board of Examiners does not provide a valid ground for appeal.
4.5 Any student considering an appeal is encouraged to contact the Students’ Union for advice and assistance.
5 Stage 1 - Academic Appeal
5.1 A student wishing to appeal against a decision of the Board of Examiners should submit the appeal in writing to the University Secretary within the time limit stated in paragraph 3 of these procedures. Appeals should be sent to email@example.com with the relevant supporting documentation.
5.2 The student’s written statement should provide the following information in support of their appeal:
- name and matriculation number
- up-to-date contact address for correspondence, including email address
- title and year of programme
- examination or result being appealed
- the grounds for appeal
- supporting evidence
- the remedy being sought
5.3 The University Secretary will acknowledge receipt of the Academic Appeal within 3 working days of receipt of the appeal, and pass the appeal to the relevant Dean of School who shall attempt to resolve the case. The Dean of School will normally respond to the student by first class post within 21 days of receipt of the appeal, either giving a decision or specifying a date for the decision. This timescale may be extended where the Dean of School is absent from the University through leave or illness.
5.4 The Dean will produce a report that documents fully the issues raised by the appellant, the facts established by the investigation, and the manner in which the facts were used to inform the judgement. The Dean of School will provide a copy of the response to the University Secretary. In coming to a judgment, the Dean may:
- confirm the decision of the Board of Examiners, on the grounds that the evidence presented did not support the case;
- provide the appellant with an additional first or second diet of examination, as the case may be, provided that, in upholding the appeal and granting an additional diet, the terms of the University’s Assessment Regulations are taking into consideration; or
- should it not be possible to provide an additional diet for the appealed result, to provide a suitable alternative as the Dean thinks fit and is reasonable in all the circumstances.
5.5 If a reconsideration of the student’s case gives rise to a change in the student’s progression this must be ratified, depending on how material the changes are, by:
- the Convener of the Board of Examiners;
- the Convener of the Board of Examiners and the External Examiner/s
- all the members of the Board of Examiners by correspondence
- a meeting of a subset of the Board
- a meeting of the full Board of Examiners.
5.6 The University Secretary, in consultation with the Dean of School, will determine the most suitable of those identified above to deal with the matter, and the procedure to be followed thereafter.
6 Stage 2 - Academic Appeals Committee
6.1 If the appellant is dissatisfied with the decision at Stage 1, they may resubmit the appeal in the original or in a revised form to the University Secretary within 21 days of receipt of the response from the Dean of School.
6.2 The University Secretary will pass the appeal to the Deputy Principal, who, having considered the substance of the appeal and the previous attempts at resolution, will decide whether or not a prima facie case is established. If such a case is established, then the appeal will be referred to an Academic Appeals hearing.
6.3 Normally, an academic appeals hearing will be convened only where the Deputy Principal judges that:
- there has been demonstrably an irregularity in the proceedings at Stage 1;
- evidence has become available that it was not reasonable for the appellant to provide at Stage 1.
6.4 If a prima facie case is judged not to have been established, the appeal shall fail and the student shall be duly informed in writing.
6.5 Exceptionally, where the Deputy Principal judges that the evidence provided at Stage 2 provides unequivocal evidence to support the academic appeal under the grounds set out in regulation 6.3, the Deputy Principal may uphold the appeal.
6.6 In determining under regulation 6.5 above, the Deputy Principal shall enjoy delegated powers to review a decision reached by a Board of Examiners equivalent to those provided to the Academic Appeals Committee under paragraph: 7.9 below.
7 Proceedings of the Academic Appeals Committee
7.1 In the event that an academic appeals hearing is judged appropriate, an Academic Appeals Panel will be convened. The Panel will be chaired by a Dean or Head of Division from outside the student's School. A Panel will consist of two other members of academic staff drawn from an academic or support area unrelated to the appeal, and a representative from the Students’ Union Executive Committee. Care will be taken to ensure an appropriate gender balance in the composition of the Panel. The University Secretary will act as technical adviser to the Panel and will nominate a clerk to the committee.
7.2 The Academic Appeals Panel shall conduct its proceedings according to the principles of natural justice in that it will it will seek to act fairly, no person may be a judge in their own case and all parties shall have access to all the evidence used by the Committee in reaching its decision.
7.3 The Appeals Panel shall meet, normally within one calendar month (excluding University vacations) of the referral from Part I, and communicate its conclusions to the student and the subject area/department concerned within one calendar month of its being convened. The University Secretary will keep all parties informed of progress and will advise of any necessary extension of the timescale, for example, if an adjournment in the proceedings is necessary.
7.4 The appellant shall have the right to appear before the Committee and to be accompanied by one other person of their choice. Representation external to the University will not be permitted in the context of this procedure.
7.5 The Academic Appeals Panel may interview staff and/or students relevant to the appeal. If the appeal is on the ground of the actions of an individual, that individual has the right to be informed of the substance of the appeal, and to attend the appeal hearing and be accompanied by a friend or supporter.
7.6 Any person called to give evidence to the Appeal hearing will be given at least 72 hours’ notice of the time and place of the hearing. Copies of written submissions will also be made available to all parties prior to the hearing.
7.7 In the event that the appellant is unable to attend the Academic Appeals Committee due to illness or other good cause, the meeting will be rescheduled.
7.8 The University Secretary will act as technical adviser to the Panel and will nominate a clerk to the committee.
7.9 The Committee may, acting under powers delegated to it by the Senate, review a decision reached by a Board of Examiners and determine:
- to confirm the decision of the Board of Examiners, on the grounds that the evidence presented did not support the case;
- to require the Board of Examiners to reconsider the results of the assessment of the students on an entire programme or part of a programme; the reconsidered results will be referred to the Convener of the Committee to decide the appropriate course of action;
- to annul the relevant decision of the Board of Examiners and refer the case for decision back to the Board of Examiners (the subsequent decision of the Board of Examiners will be referred to the Convener of the Committee to decide the appropriate course of action);
- to annul the relevant decision of the Board of Examiners and assign a revised result to the student concerned;
- to make decisions on the student’s progress or award outside the University’s general assessment regulations.
7.11 The Panel shall report all these cases to the Senate for information.
7.12 Consequent to the decision arising from the particular case, the Committee may ask the Senate or other senior committee to reconsider the wording of University’s academic regulations, and the Programme Committee to review its programme regulations and/or management.
7.13 The University has the right to levy a fee for appeals. If the process involves the re-marking of a number of examination papers, it may charge per paper re-marked. The fee will be reimbursed if the appeal is upheld.
7.14 The decision of the Academic Appeals Committee shall be final within the University.
8 INDEPENDENT REVIEW
8.1 The University’s internal procedures having been exhausted, a student may seek review of their complaint by an independent person, the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman [SPSO].
8.2 The Ombudsman is independent and their staff will advise whether or not the complaint is one that they can investigate. Normally the student will have to tell the Ombudsman about their complaint within 12 months of first knowing about the problem about which they are complaining, although the Ombudsman may look at complaints outside this limit if they think there is good reason to do so.
8.3 There are some restrictions on what the Ombudsman can investigate. For example, they cannot consider the subject matter of complaints about personnel matters or matters of academic judgement. However, they may be able to investigate the manner in which the complaint was handled. If the complaint is appropriate to their office and is investigated, theOmbudsman’s staff will send details of how this will be done.
8.4 The complaint should be submitted in writing to the Ombudsman, and should include any relevant documents including correspondence with the University and the University’s response to the complaint. This can be sent to the Ombudsman without cost at the freepost address given below. A student may discuss the complaint with an Investigator at the SPSO before deciding to submit.
8.5 The Scottish Public Services Ombudsman has an online complaint form accessible through the website, although papers in support of the complaint would still have to be supplied to the Ombudsman by post or other means. The Scottish Public Services Ombudsman can also supply paper complaint forms direct to complainants.
8.6 Further information may be accessed through the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman website, or by calling their office for advice. Contact details are:
Freepost SPSO, SPSO, Bridgeside House, 99 McDonald Road, Edinburgh EH7 4NS
Opening hours: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday 9am–5pm, Tuesday 10am–5pm
SPSO freephone 0800 377 7330
Website: Scottish Public Services Ombudsman website
Fax 0800 377 7331
Acceptable use of IT Policy
Queen Margaret University provides its users with access to state-of-the-art Information and Communication Technology (ICT) equipment and a wide range of electronic resources. All users need to be aware of what constitutes the Acceptable Use of these resources to enable them to be used in a safe and secure manner. This document outlines the policies relating to both ICT and e-resources and facilities.
For all our users; staff, students, visitors and any others, using our technology infrastructure constitutes an undertaking to abide by this acceptable use policy and the legal requirements implicit and explicitly contained within.
For the purposes of this document, designations include staff and students at collaborative partners. You are reminded that accessing QMU ICT systems and resources via the Remote Desktop service you are bound by the laws and regulations in the UK as well as any applicable laws in the country from which you are connecting.
Acceptable Use Policy
This policy outlines the University’s approach to acceptable use of its computing facilities and provides the guiding principles and responsibilities to ensure the University’s acceptable use objectives are met.
Access to the University’s ICT facilities and resources requires users to accept certain responsibilities and obligations. All users must be aware of and comply with the JANET Acceptable Use Policy, which covers all UK HE academic and research network activity.
Use of IT and associated resources should always be legal and ethical and reflect academic integrity and the standards of the University community.
Use of IT and associated resources should always be legal and ethical and reflect academic integrity and the standards of the University community
The Information Security Steering Group, ISSG, is responsible for ensuring the updating of this policy and monitoring its effectiveness. The University reserves the right to update this policy in line with new or updated legislation or requirements.
This policy is applicable across the University and applies to:
- all individuals who have access to University information and technologies;
- all facilities, technologies and services that are used to process University information;
- all information processed, accessed, manipulated, or stored (in any format) by the University pursuant to its operational activities;
- internal and external processes used to process University information;
- external parties that provide information processing services to the University;
- The policy will be communicated to users and relevant external parties.
The University’s objectives for this policy are to:
- safeguard the University’s information from security threats that could have an adverse effect on its operations or reputation;
- fulfil the University’s duty of care toward the information with which it has been entrusted;
- protect the confidentiality, integrity, availability and value of information through the optimal use of controls.
In order to use the ICT facilities in the University, you must first be authorised. For students, this will require your matriculation number and password, which are provided when you matriculate online. Staff will receive a confidential mailing containing notification of their username and password. Your matriculation number/username and password is for the exclusive use of the individual to whom they have been allocated. You are responsible and accountable for all activities carried out under your matriculation number/username and password.
It should be noted that systems staff, who have appropriate privileges, have the ability, which is occasionally required, to access all files, including electronic mail files, stored on a computer which they manage. It is also occasionally necessary to intercept network traffic. In such circumstances, appropriately privileged staff will take all reasonable steps to ensure the privacy of service users. The University fully reserves the right to monitor e-mail, telephone and any other electronically-mediated communications, whether stored or in transit, in line with its rights under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000. Reasons for such monitoring may include the need to:
- ensure operational effectiveness of services
- prevent a breach of the law, this policy, or other University policy
- investigate a suspected breach of the law, this policy, or other University policy
- monitor standards
Access to staff files, including electronic mail files, will not normally be given to another member of staff unless authorised by the appropriate line manager, Head of IT Services, or nominee, who will use their discretion, in consultation with a senior officer of the University, if appropriate. In such circumstances the Head of Subject or Division, or more senior line manager, will be informed and will normally be consulted prior to action being taken. Such access will normally only be granted in the following circumstances:
- where a breach of the law or a serious breach of this or another University policy is suspected;
- when a documented and lawful request from a law enforcement agency such as the police or security services has been received;
- on request from the relevant Head of Subject or Division, where the managers or co- workers of the individual require access to e-mail messages or files, which are records of a University activity and the individual is unable, e.g. through absence, to provide them.
The University sees student privacy as desirable but not as an absolute right, hence students should not expect to hold or pass information, which they would not wish to be seen by members of staff responsible for their academic work. In addition to when a breach of the law or of this policy is suspected, or when a documented and lawful request from a law enforcement agency such as the police or security services has been received, systems staff are also authorised to release the contents of a student's files, including electronic mail files, when required to by any member of staff who has a direct academic work-based reason for requiring such access.
After a student or member of staff leaves the University, files which are left behind on any computer system owned by the University, including servers and including electronic mail files, will be considered to be the property of the University. When leaving the University, staff should make arrangements to transfer to colleagues any e-mail or other computer- based information held under their account, as this will be closed on their departure.
7. Acceptable Use of ICT
University ICT and electronic resources are provided to facilitate your work as a member of the University community, specifically for educational, training, research or administrative purposes. Any other uses are a privilege and not a right and must never take priority over the needs of those who require the facilities for directed academic work.
The University does not block or filter keywords or search terms, nor does it prevent you from accessing specific sites. That does not mean however, that you can access or download pornographic or other offensive or objectionable material.
You should bear the following in mind:
- You must not share your QMU username and password with anyone else. This will result in your account being disabled immediately. For students, if your account has been disabled then you must appeal for its reinstatement. This must be done in the first instance to your Dean of School. There is no automatic reinstatement. Staff should contact Assist helpdesk.
- You must never use University ICT systems to alarm or inconvenience others.
- You must not display anything on your screen which is likely to cause offence or upset other users. However, it is recognised that sometimes it is necessary to display material which is medical in nature, in relation to some courses/modules.
- You must respect other people’s electronic privacy. In particular, you may not use your QMU accounts to distribute spam and other chain emails.
- For your own security, you should be careful who you share your QMU email and other contact details with.
- You must never pass off other people’s work as your own. The University produces a guide to referencing, “Write and Cite” [ broken link] which is available online.
- You should not use data which is confidential or not already in the public domain in your work without first consulting the author; there may be copyright or data protection implications.
- You must not maliciously damage or interfere with any item of hardware.
Anyone found abusing QMU ICT systems will usually be cautioned in the first instance. Continued abuse will lead to your account being disabled. This means that you will be unable to access any of the networking and communications services. In cases of serious abuse, your account will be disabled immediately. Serious abuse includes the sharing of your username and password
8. Forms of Unacceptable activities
Unacceptable activities can take a variety of forms. Some examples of behaviour which is unacceptable are listed below:
- Transmitting or downloading obscene or offensive material.
- Transmitting or downloading threatening material, or material intended to harass or frighten.
- Transmitting or downloading defamatory material.
- Infringing copyright (see below).
- Hacking, attempted hacking or other deliberately disruptive activities such as introducing viruses to computer equipment.
- Sending a bulk email to everyone in the University.
- Interfering with hardware or software configurations.
- Installing or attempting to install unauthorised software to QMU ICT equipment.
- Adding software to University computer equipment.
- The use of QMU ICT services and equipment to distribute unsolicited advertising (spam), to run a business or similar activities.
- Downloading or distributing pirated software or data
- Viewing or hosting of any illegal streaming content.
- Any other activities that disrupt QMU ICT services.
9.0 Counter Terrorism and Security Act 2015
All Users are advised that the University has a statutory obligation under the Counter- Terrorism and Security Act (2015) to have ‘due regard to the need to prevent people being drawn into terrorism’.
The Terrorism Act (2000) makes it an offence for an individual to collect or make a record of information of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism; or to possess a document or record containing information of that kind (eg a terrorist training manual). The Terrorism Act (2006) makes it an offence to disseminate terrorist publications in order to encourage others to engage in terrorism.
The Terrorism Act (2000) defines terrorism in section 1 of the Act as set out in the following: The Terrorism Act (2000)
10. Use of copyright software or datasets
By accessing QMU ICT systems, you also agree to the following with regard to copyright:
That usage of any Software, Computer Readable Dataset or Courseware or other similar material, hereafter referred to as "the Product", issued or otherwise made available to is subject to the following conditions:
- You will ensure that all the requirements of the agreements, contracts and licences under which the Product is held by the Institution will be maintained. (Copies of the relevant agreements, contracts and licences may be seen by application to the School or Department which made the Product available).
- You will adhere to the regulations governing the use of any service involved in the provision of access to the product whether these services are controlled by this institution or by some other organisation.
- You will not remove or alter the Copyright Statement on any copies of the Product used by yourself.
- You will ensure the Security and Confidentiality of any copy released to yourself and will not make any further copies from it or knowingly permit others to do so, unless permitted to do so under the relevant licence.
- You will use the Product only for purposes defined and only on computer systems covered by the agreement, contract or licence.
- You will only incorporate the Product, or part thereof, in any work, program or article produced by yourself, where this is permitted by the licence or by "Fair Dealing".
- You will only incorporate some part or version of the Product in any work produced by yourself with the express permission of the Licensor or unless this is permitted under the Agreement.
- You will not reverse engineer or decompile the software products or attempt to do so unless this is explicitly permitted within the terms of the Agreement for the use of the Product.
You will return or destroy all copies of the Product at the end of the course/year/period of employment or when requested to do so.
11. Legal constraints
- You must adhere at all times to appropriate statutory law such as the Computer Misuse Act 1990, Defamation Act 1996, the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) and not commit the common law crimes of theft, rest or fraud.
- You should be aware that The Terrorism Act (2000) makes it an offence for an individual to collect or make a record of information of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism; or to possess a document or record containing information of that kind (eg a terrorist training manual).
- You must undertake to comply with the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 and the provisions of the University’s licence with the Copyright Licensing Agency and with any other applicable legislation, statutory instrument or regulation
- You should always consider the provisions of the General Data Protection Regulations when storing data on a computer. Please review the University’s Data Protection Policy 2018: https://www.qmu.ac.uk/footer/foi-and-data-protection/data-protection/
- You should be aware of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 when making use of ICT systems
- You must respect the intellectual property rights, copyright and moral rights of author
- You must undertake to abide by all licence agreements for software entered into by the University with other parties (see below)
- You may only use software and/or information provided by the University for educational purposes as a member of the University.
12. Code of Conduct when using our facilities
All users at QMU shall:
- Accept individual and collective responsibility for maintaining a healthy working, studying and living environment within the University, respecting the institution’s policies on equal opportunities and anti-harassment and ensuring that their conduct complies with these policies
- Accept individual and collective responsibility for keeping a clean and safe working and studying environment, ensuring personal guests act in an appropriate manner. Anything which you believe constitutes a health and safety hazard must be reported immediately to Reception
- Have a mutual respect for others especially with regard to differing cultures
- Have an individual and collective responsibility to contribute to a study environment that promotes scholarship and learning. All persons should be considerate of the needs of others for an appropriate study environment and share a common goal in learning
- Have an individual and collective responsibility to ensure that the safety of themselves and others is not compromised
- Ensure that their use of the computer systems and networks is always legal and ethical and reflects academic integrity and the standards of the University community
- Have an individual and collective responsibility to ensure respect for other people and property is maintained.
- Know that the use of mobile phones in lectures, seminars and computing laboratories is strictly prohibited. Mobile phones should be switched into silent mode before entering the secure area of the Learning Resource Centre.
- Know that the University will not tolerate antisocial behaviour: this includes the use of abusive language, physical abuse, obscene comments, verbal or physical harassment and comments or remarks that discriminate on the basis of sex, race or any other irrelevant distinction
The University shall conduct information security compliance and assurance activities to ensure information security objectives and requirements are met.
Regular training and testing will be carried out by the University involving all users to ensure continuing compliance and awareness. On occasions this testing will be unannounced to ensure a continuing level of security awareness within the user community.
Willful failure to comply with this and any information security sub-policies will be treated extremely seriously by the University and may result in disciplinary action.
14. Penalties for unacceptable use
15. Using computers whilst on placement
Most placement organisations allow QMU users access to their ICT facilities. Make sure you know and respect their requirements on how you use their computers.
15.1 Know the rules
External organisations may have very different attitudes in the use of ICT. It is important, therefore, when you go out on a placement that you make it a priority to familiarise yourself with the local regulations. Before you go out on your placement, your academic supervisor will try to ensure that you get a copy of the organisation’s specific ICT usage regulations. When you get onsite, it is worthwhile going over these regulations with your placement supervisor. This will help you get a better understanding of what is permitted and what is not. You may also find it helpful to make contact with the local ICT support department or helpdesk. The staff there will be able to give you more help and advice.
Remember – all organisations have different regulations about what you can and cannot do with their ICT facilities. You must respect these when you are out on placement. It is your individual responsibility to familiarise yourself with the local regulations and to ensure that you do not abuse the ICT facilities offered to you when you are on placement. Any computer facilities offered to you whilst on placement will be provided for University work only, i.e. for use in learning, teaching and pursuit of studies. You must not abuse these facilities for any other purpose, e.g. to play computer games, for excessive social use of email, or for recreational internet use.
15.2 Keeping safe
If you are a health sciences student, your research will require internet searches based on anatomical words and phrases. This may generate unwanted links to pornographic or other objectionable websites. To be safe, read the site summary carefully before clicking on a link. If you are not sure, do not click through! Where possible, you should use specific health science related search engines.
15.3 What you should do if something unexpected happens
Even if you are careful you may accidentally access internet sites you did not mean to. This might happen because you clicked on a misleading link, you clicked on a link by accident, or because a site has been ‘hijacked’. You may also find that you get bombarded by unsolicited and explicit ‘popup’ advertising. If any of these things happens whilst you are out on placement:
- Take a note of the URL (web address) of the site and the time you accessed it
- Tell someone immediately. If possible, show them what happened.
- If you are working in a public area, you may want to ‘lock’ the PC before fetching help.(You can do this by pressing the CTRL-ALT-DEL keys at the same time, then clicking on Lock Computer. If you can’t lock the PC, then make sure you have the details of the site you accessed, then log off.)
- Tell your placement supervisor as soon as possible
- Tell local ICT staff (any alerts regarding inappropriate internet use will go to them first)
- Tell your QMU supervisor to advise them of what has happened
There may be an investigation into your online activities, but if the accident was legitimate and these steps are followed, it will be resolved quickly.
16. Recording of lectures
QMU recognises that from time to time students may wish to record lectures, seminars and tutorials for their own personal use to support their learning. As a matter of courtesy students should inform the lecturer prior to the commencement of the recording. If the student has not informed the lecturer, the lecturer may ask for the recording to be stopped.
However, students are reminded that:
- Distributing a recorded lecture/seminar/tutorial is an unacceptable activity. Students should always check with lecturers before distributing a recording; this includes distributing on the Internet.
- Editing a recorded lecture/seminar/tutorial is also an unacceptable activity. Students should always check with lecturers before changing a recording.
17. Publishing to the Web
The University provides the opportunity to publish web pages within the qmu.ac.uk domain to:
- support research activity
- enhance teaching
- provide means of disseminating information about the University to its members, to potential staff and students and to the general public.
- allow individual users to provide non-academic information as part of the general process of learning through our use of Google sites and wikis.
All information provided using our web facilities will be seen as having, in some way, the support of the University and will affect how people view the University. Therefore, no provider should publish any information in a way which could adversely affect the good name or reputation of the University, nor provide material which is inappropriate for dissemination by the University. Included in this is any material that could lead to legal action, such as alleged libel or a breach of copyright.
A disclaimer should also be included indicating that the University has no direct responsibility for the content and giving individual contact name and email address.
The information provided on this web page does not necessarily represent the views of Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh. The responsibility for all material in this page rests wholly on a personal basis with the owner of this page. The named owner of this page is responsible for liability for loss, liability for hypertext links, liability for defamation and for compliance with relevant acts of law.
The page is also subject to the University Acceptable Use Policy.
17.2 Google sites and wikis
All of the above Guidelines apply to the Google sites/wikis service except that contributions will in this case always be at the page level with automatic attribution made to the author such that no further use of the copyright symbol, linking to any Home Page, or disclaimer is necessary.
The service is offered to certain members of the University either as part of their learning, research or other use considered appropriate by the Head of Information and Learning Services.
All information published on our web pages is subject to our standard takedown policy whereby any report of issues with content will result in the page being removed immediately and subject to investigation.
The University accepts that effective Information and data security is the responsibility of all within the University. The following bodies and individuals however have specific information security responsibilities:
The Senior Leadership Team, (SLT), has executive responsibility for information security within the University.
The Information Security Steering Group, (ISSG), has operational responsibility for all aspects of information security within the University. The ISSG is responsible for determining the system of internal controls operated by the University and for managing their delivery and effectiveness. The ISSG will:
- Analyse and manage institutional risks.
- Review and recommend policies, procedures, and standards.
- Ensure consistency in disciplinary processes for violation.
Heads of Division, Unit or Service are responsible for the oversight of information security arrangements within their area in order to ensure that they are functioning in accordance with this policy.
Users are required to complete information security awareness training and are responsible for making informed decisions to protect the information that they process.
19. Review and Development
This policy, and any supporting security sub-policies, will be reviewed and updated by the ISSG as necessary on a scheduled basis to ensure that the policy/policies
- remain operationally fit for purpose;
- reflect changes in technologies;
- are aligned to industry best practice; and
- support continued regulatory, contractual and legal compliance.
1.1 Queen Margaret University Admissions Policy supports the University Strategic Plan QM150 to ‘build on our existing success in widening participation, to ensure that we fulfil people’s potential, whatever their background’.
1.2 This policy applies to the admission of students to undergraduate and postgraduate programmes of study at Queen Margaret University.
2. Admissions Principles
2.1 The University seeks to provide access to its courses from as wide a range of entrants as possible, subject to the essential principle that entrants have a reasonable expectation of completing their course successfully within the normal duration of the course.
2.2 This principle is codified through:
- University-wide general minimum entrance requirements specified by level of course.
- Specific entrance requirements for each course framed to apply the University’s general entrance requirements to the particular needs of that course.
- Clear provisions and procedures for the admission of students who do not meet these normal entrance requirements, but who fulfil the essential principle set out in point.
2.3 Queen Margaret University is committed to equality of opportunity. We seek to promote diversity amongst our students, staff and applicants. We recognise the particular contributions that are made by individuals from a wide range of backgrounds and experiences, to the achievement of our vision and strategic objectives. We aim to promote entry to, and provide education at, undergraduate and postgraduate level to a diverse range of students, whatever their background. Our equal opportunities policy is available on our website.
2.4 Each application received by the University is considered carefully on its own merits, taking into account educational, professional and personal experience.
In assessing candidates for admittance to the University, we are committed to the following principles:
- Fairness – the University strives to use admissions assessment methods that are reliable and valid.
- Transparency – details of our entry requirements are published in our prospectus and on our website, and are clear and transparent to applicants and their advisers.
- Reflecting our community – we are committed to admitting as wide a range of applicants as possible to reflect our community.
- Encouraging participation – we aim to minimise barriers to applicants and encourage progression and retention through our targeted pre-entry, transition and post-entry support services.
3. Service delivery
3.1 The University is committed to continuous improvement in all it does. We take a professional approach to admissions.
3.2 The University ensures a wide range of pre-entry and outreach activities are available to applicants and stakeholders, along with individual advice and guidance.
3.3 Admissions, student recruitment and outreach & community engagement staff receive regular training, support and guidance to ensure that they provide accurate, timely and consistent advice and guidance to applicants and other stakeholders.
3.4 A range of staff, including the Transition and Pre-entry Adviser, College Articulation Officer, Student Funding Adviser and the Disability Team are available to ensure that potential students obtain all the relevant information required, so they are appropriately informed during their decision making process to come to the University.
3.5 Academic admissions tutors work closely with recruitment and admissions staff to ensure that entry requirements are fair and transparent.
3.6 Staff in admissions are trained and supported to ensure that they are able to make fair and equitable admissions decisions.
3.7 We aim to process applications as quickly as possible. However, where there is an application deadline, applications may not be processed until after the deadline in order to ensure equal consideration.
3.8 Offers of admission are communicated to applicants in clear and easy to understand language
3.9 We recognise the importance of providing feedback to unsuccessful applicants. Where an applicant is unsuccessful, we give a reason for this via UCAS for undergraduate applicants or by email for postgraduate applicants. While the University aims to provide informative feedback that is helpful to applicants, it may not always be possible to provide highly specific or tailored advice.
3.10 If the University makes a change to a course, which is deemed to impact significantly on the student, or withdraws a course after an application has been received, we will email applicants to explain the reason for the change or withdrawal and offer advice and guidance about alternative courses, either at QMU or elsewhere.
4.Terms and conditions
The University’s published terms and conditions apply to all applicants for undergraduate and postgraduate study. All applicants are referred to the University’s Terms and Conditions in their offer letter, to which all students must agree, when accepting the offer of a place to study at QMU.
5. Roles and responsibilities
5.1 The Admissions Policy is approved by the Student Experience Committee and any changes or updates will be approved by that committee. A full review of the policy in its entirety is undertaken every 5 years. The Head of Admissions and Recruitment is responsible for the operation of the policy and for its regular monitoring and review. The policy will be checked annually to ensure accuracy and to reflect any changes.
5.2 This policy is underpinned by several other University policies which are available on our Regulations, Policies and Procedures web page:
- Contextual Admissions Policy
- Fitness to Practice Policy
- Code of Practice on Criminal convictions and disclosure
- Data protection policy
- Undergraduate and postgraduate regulations.
5.3 The University has a centralised admissions service. All applications are dealt with by a team of professionally trained officers and administrators. Decisions on applications may be made by Admissions Officers or by Academic Admissions Tutors.
5.4 Admissions Tutors are responsible for setting entry criteria, subject to advice from programme teams, validation and review panels, School Academic Boards and the Head of Admissions & Recruitment.
5.5 Entry requirements are set when a new course is approved, or validated, and are reviewed on a regular basis. Any changes to entry requirements will be agreed by the School Academic Board.
6. Admissions process
6.1 All full time applications for undergraduate courses must be made through UCAS. All part time applications and applications for postgraduate courses should be made directly to the University using our on-line application form, accessible through each course page.
6.2 All UCAS applications received by the published UCAS deadline are given equal consideration. Postgraduate applicants are encouraged to submit applications as early as possible. Where a programme has a specific deadline, this will be clearly published in the prospectus and on the course pages of our website. Postgraduate programmes which have limited numbers of places may become full before a published deadline has been reached. In such cases, the programme will be closed and any applicants waiting for a decision will be informed as quickly as possible.
6.3 A number of courses require interviews or auditions as part of the application procedure. Where an interview or audition forms part of the selection criteria, we stipulate this in our prospectus and on our website. Arrangements are made to interview applicants by telephone or Skype where travel to the UK is not possible.
We explain to applicants the nature and purpose of the interview and ensure that interviews are conducted fairly by appropriately qualified staff.
6.4 A number of courses require the inspection of a portfolio of work. Full details of these requirements are published in our prospectus and on our website.
6.5 Where applicants have made more than one application to study, decisions will be made separately.
6.6 Applicants may be offered an alternative programme of study if they do not meet the minimum entry requirements for their chosen programme.
6.7 Where applicants are required to provide photocopies of their qualifications with their application, we may require sight of the original documentation at matriculation. Applicants will be notified in advance of matriculation if this is required.
6.8 We allow applicants to defer entry to most of our programmes for one year. UCAS applicants wishing to defer are required to meet all the conditions for entry in the year that they apply. Postgraduate applicants can defer a conditional offer. An applicant can only defer the offer of a place once, and after that they will be asked to reapply unless in exceptional circumstances. Where it is not possible to defer an offer of study, an applicant can reapply the following academic year.
6.9 Where an applicant has extenuating circumstances, we take this into consideration. However, where these circumstances have affected the grade achieved in a qualification required for entry, we would expect that this is dealt with by the examining body.
7. Entry requirements
7.1 General entry requirements
7.1.1 All courses have prescribed entry requirements relating to previous academic attainment. The minimum entry requirements for each course are published each year in our prospectus and on our website.
7.1.2 Achieving the minimum entry standards does not guarantee an offer of a place on a course as there can be considerable competition for places.
7.1.3 For all courses we look for evidence of motivation, suitability, skills and attitudes. For programmes which lead to eligibility for professional registration we also expect applicants to demonstrate an exploration of the profession within their personal statement.
7.1.4 If an applicant does not have the normal entry requirements, but has relevant experience and can demonstrate that there is a reasonable expectation that they will complete the course, then it may still be possible to consider them.
We recommend that applicants who have no formal qualifications, or have been out of formal education for some time, contact admissions to discuss appropriate pathways to study.
7.2 Undergraduate entry requirements
7.2.1 The University accepts a wide range of qualifications for entry. We set our entry standards for Scottish Highers, A Levels and Irish Leaving Certificate using the UCAS Tariff as a metric to ensure equity. We also consider a range of other equivalent qualifications using established bodies such as UCAS and UKNARIC to compare qualifications
7.2.2 Our entry criteria and offers are usually expressed in grades. When making a grade based offer, we will make it clear when we expect those grades to be achieved by. Applicants are expected to achieve the required number of qualifications at specific grades, dependent on the degree programme applied for. We may use the UCAS Tariff to calculate equivalencies for non-standard entry qualifications.
7.2.3 Where an applicant has attempted a qualification more then once, we normally count the highest grade achieved, but we do not double count the qualification.
7.2.4 The general minimum entrance requirement for an Undergraduate Degree is usually one of the following:
- At least three SQA Highers at grade C or above. Most degrees also require passes in Maths and English at Standard Grade/Int2/ National 5 at grade C or above;
- At least two full A Levels at grade D or above. Most degrees also require passes in Maths and English at CGSE at grade C/ 4, or above;
- The Irish Leaving Certificate with at least three passes in the Higher Level subjects at grade H3 or above;
- Pass in the International Baccalaureate Diploma
- Pass in the European Baccalaureate;
- A BTEC national Diploma at level 3;
- A relevant Access or Foundation course.
7.2.5 Where we have requested Higher English as an entry requirement, we will also accept Higher ESOL as meeting that requirement for all programmes except BA (Hons) Education Studies (Primary).
7.2.6 Where National 5 Mathematics is required for entry to a course, National 5 Lifeskills Mathematics and National 5 Applications of Mathematics will be considered to meet this criteria, at the required grade.
7.2.7 The University welcomes the Scottish Curriculum for Excellence. Our entry criteria are largely based on qualifications achieved ‘on entry’ rather than over a particular number of sittings. Published entry requirements for Scottish Highers may be achieved over two or more sittings.
7.2.8 The University acknowledges that the Curriculum for Excellence gives students the opportunity to take a broader range of qualifications, undertaken at different stages of learning. Some students may progress from general education to Highers, without achieving a National 5 qualification. If you do not hold a subject that is required at National 5, you must have achieved or be predicted to achieve that subject at SQA Higher.
7.2.9 QMU values the Advanced Higher qualification as an excellent preparation for University study, but will only count the highest level of qualification in any subject. This means that we wouldn’t count AS levels or SQA Highers if you have the full A Level, or an Advanced Higher in the same or similar subject.
7.2.10 We will accept AS level qualifications in addition to the two A Levels. We do not accept A Level General Studies for entry to any of our courses.
7.2.11 We welcome applications from those studying the Extended Project Qualification (EPQ), however we recognize that not all students have access to the qualification, so we do not include them within entry requirements, and they do not carry additional credit in the selection process.
7.2.12 The University welcomes applications from those studying Foundation Apprenticeships. The Foundation Apprenticeship will count as one subject within an applicant’s overall presentation of qualifications. Where specific subjects are required for entry to one of our degree programmes, a Foundation Apprenticeship will not replace that requirement, but will be counted as one of an applicant’s additional subjects.
7.2.13 The University welcomes and supports students seeking to apply for advanced or direct entry to our undergraduate programmes of study. Applicants must apply through UCAS, by the UCAS deadline in order to be considered for a place.
Advanced entry may be offered to applicants with evidence of accredited prior learning, such as HNC, HND, Advanced Higher or A Level qualifications. Applicants who wish to be considered for Advanced Entry should state this clearly on their UCAS application, using the Point of Entry box.
7.2.14 We have established articulation agreements with local colleges. Applicants must apply through UCAS by the UCAS deadline in order to be considered for a place. We aim to place applicants with a relevant HNC into the second year of our courses and those with an HND into the third year of our courses.
Generally applicants applying for second year entry with an HNC will be required to get a B in their graded unit, while applicants applying for third year entry with an HND will be required to get C/B in their graded units.
Where advanced entry is not possible, then a relevant HN qualification may be considered for entry into the first year of a programme.
7.2.15 We also accept a wide range of other qualifications, including diplomas and certificates that equate to SCQF level 7 or 8 for advanced entry. However, the content and level must match that of our courses sufficiently for us to be satisfied that the learning outcomes have been achieved.
7.2.16 We are able to consider accreditation of non-certified learning (APL) and we have a rigorous process in place for assessing APL. We are also able to identify, explore and claim academic credit for previous certificated and/or experiential learning through the Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) process. For learning to be awarded as credit towards your programme of study, it needs to match learning outcomes and to be evidenced.
You may be able to gain RPL credit for previous certificated study, undertaken elsewhere. You also may be able to gain academic credit for experience; for example experience gained through volunteering, or in your workplace. Please see the Recognition of Prior Learning Guidance on our Regulations, Policies and Procedures website for further details.
7.2.17 Students presenting with Advanced Highers or strong A Level grades in relevant subjects may be eligible for entry to the second year of some of our courses.
7.3 Postgraduate Taught entry requirements
7.3.1 All postgraduate applicants should have already achieved a first degree, normally at Honours level or equivalent, or a professional diploma which is recognised by the relevant professional body as the equivalent of an Honours degree. We may also accept diploma level qualifications and considerable relevant experience.
7.3.2 Exceptionally, we can accept applicants for postgraduate level study without a first degree for some courses if they have considerable relevant professional experience.
7.3.3 Postgraduate applicants are usually required to provide one reference in support of their application. This will usually be an academic reference, but may be a professional reference where the applicant has been out of education for longer than 3 years. The reference must be presented in one of the following formats:
- On headed paper reflecting the referee's professional standing, signed and dated. This can be posted, scanned and emailed, or handed into the Admissions team.
- In the form of an email sent to the Admissions team from an email address reflecting the referee's professional standing. Yahoo, Hotmail, Gmail, etc. email addresses are not acceptable.
7.3.4 For certain postgraduate programmes students can be admitted as ‘associate students’ to allow them to take one or two modules, without registering for an award.
Applicants will be required to complete an application via the relevant course page on the University’s website, including a short personal statement.
Normally a student can study as an ‘associate student’ for a maximum period of 2 years, or for 2 modules.
If a student wishes to register on a named award in a similar area after studying as an ‘associate student’, any modules they have successfully completed may be given as credit towards their named award.
The commencement date for the period of registration for the named award would be taken from the point when the student first registered as an ‘associate student’.
If a former ‘associate student’ requires a Student visa in order to study a full time, named award they will be required to complete an application and provide evidence of English language proficiency at the level required for the named award, before they can be issued with a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS).
7.4 Postgraduate Research entry requirements
Applicants applying for a PhD by research must provide a proposal. This allows us to check how well the applicant understands the research process and to make sure the topic is in an area we can supervise.
The research topic must be within the expertise of our staff. The topic must have academic merit and it must be capable of generating new knowledge. Research which is linked to the applicant's creative work may be considered.
Details of how to apply to our PhD research programme can be found on our website under Applying for a PhD or Professional Doctorate.
7.5 International applicants
7.5.1 We welcome applications from international applicants around the world and accept a wide range of international qualifications. We use NARIC and other reliable sources to establish equivalences of international qualifications with UK standards of entry, and make offers on a like for like basis. We publish equivalencies for popular overseas qualifications on our website and can offer advice on alternative routes for entry where they do not meet our requirements (such as foundation level courses).
7.5.2 We work with a number of agents who act as official representatives of the University and can assist with advice on applications and suitable course options.
7.5.3 The University has a number of partners overseas through whom students can study for a QMU degree. Minimum entry requirements for such arrangements are the same as those that apply to the course delivered in Edinburgh.
7.5.4 We welcome applications from students who have achieved one of our awards overseas and who wish to continue with further studies at QMU Edinburgh.
7.5.5 Applicants who are non-native speakers of English must demonstrate English language proficiency in all four language competencies. We require a minimum IELTS score of 6.0 with no element below 5.5 or equivalent qualification. For many courses, the minimum score required is higher than this. Information about minimum scores is given in our prospectuses and on the course pages of our website.
8. UKVI requirements
8.1 QMU is a licenced student sponsor. QMU can issue Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) allowing applicants to apply for immigration as a student. QMU has reporting responsibilities to the Home Office and UKVI as a student sponsor.
8.2 Staff at QMU can provide advice and guidance on applying for a Student Visa, however we strongly advise students to check the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) website.
8.3 It is the student’s responsibility to abide by immigration laws and to notify the Home Office of any changes to circumstances.
8.4 We require any students that require a student visa to study at the University to pay a deposit or to provide proof of full financial sponsorship prior to issuing a CAS. Applicants will also be required to demonstrate they hold sufficient funds to meet UKVI requirements, prior to issuing a CAS. Please see the International student pages on our website for further details.
9. PVG/Disclosure checks
Applicants for Health Science and certain other courses that involve interaction with children and/or vulnerable adults must declare all criminal convictions, and in these cases the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 does not apply.
Candidates for healthcare courses will be asked to provide a satisfactory criminal record check from the Protection of Vulnerable Groups (PVG) scheme. Full details about those courses that require full PVG/ Disclosure checks are given in our prospectus and on our website.
International and EU students are required to provide comparable information in English from their own country. We will offer guidance regarding how an applicant can obtain this information within the offer letter. Students will also be required to provide a satisfactory criminal record check from the Protection of Vulnerable Groups (PVG) scheme, once they have arrived in the UK, as detailed above.
10. Criminal convictions
To safeguard the welfare of staff, students, visitors and the general public, Queen Margaret University will scrutinise any criminal convictions declared on the part of applicants for entry or by matriculating students.
Continuing students will be required to declare, as part of on-line matriculation, whether they have had any criminal conviction in the last 12 months. In the event of a positive response, the process set out in 2.3 below will be followed.
NOTE: Any student who is subsequently found to have falsified their self-declaration will be subject to disciplinary action.
Where an applicant or a matriculating student has declared a criminal conviction, identified staff of the University Secretary’s Group will contact the applicant or student to ascertain the nature of the conviction, requesting further information, including the nature of the conviction, date of conviction, nature of sentence etc. The Head of Admissions and Recruitment or the relevant School Manager will review this information and carry out a risk assessment using an established classification taken from the Health and Care Professions Council. The risk assessment may be reviewed by the Head of Division or the Dean. The following criteria will be considered:
- Programme requirements
- Potential risk to other students and staff
- Responsibilities to employers and the public
- The rights of the individual and entitlement to rehabilitation
11. Selection and offer making
11.1 For all programmes the selection process will take into account the following:
- Achieved and predicted academic qualifications
- Interest in the subject area and motivation for study, demonstrated in the Personal Statement
- Work experience, or other relevant non-academic experience, demonstrated in the personal statement
- Academic and/or professional reference(s)
- Where required, performance at interview or audition
- Where required, an applicant’s portfolio
- Where required, an applicant’s research proposal
- English language proficiency
11.2 In addition to the factors outlined above, we aim to take into account the context of an applicant’s academic achievement, giving consideration to a range of factors, which may impact on attainment. These factors include, but are not limited to:
- Being eligible for the Lothian Equal Access Programme for Schools (LEAPS)
- Attendance at a school where few students progress to University
- Living in an area of high deprivation, as defined by the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD)
- Being Care experienced
- Undertaking an alternative study route to higher education
Please see our Contextual Admissions Policy for further information.
11.3 Each application is considered, and a decision made, on an individual basis. Admissions decisions will be communicated to applicants in a timely manner. Where an application requires an interview, portfolio submission or audition, the decision making process will take longer.
11.4 Postgraduate applicants applying to a programme that does not have an equal consideration deadline should receive a decision on their application, or notice of an interview, within four weeks of submitting a completed application with supporting documentation.
11.5 Any conditions attached to an offer will be clear and specific. The offer letter will contain details of any action the applicant needs to take in order to accept the offer. The offer letter will also give details on fee classification and fee levels for the programme.
11.6 The University also provides information about scholarships and bursaries available to applicants. Full details of eligibility and deadlines are available on the University website.
11.7 Applicants who accept their offer of admission will be sent further welcome information prior to the start of semester, to ensure they are ready to start their studies. Entrants should check the Induction website for details of matriculation. These may be tailored to different types of students such as direct entrants, international students etc. We offer a short pre-induction course, ‘QM Advance’, for mature undergraduate students, to help ensure smooth transition into our courses.
11.8 Direct entry students benefit from Direct Entrant Induction which is a designated induction programme for direct entrants at the start of the academic year.
11.9 The University also supports a student mentoring scheme, ‘QM Connect’ which offers new students the opportunity to be matched with a trained mentor.
12. Applicants with Disabilities
The University welcomes a diverse learning community and aims to support all students to participate fully in their studies and in University life. Applicants are strongly advised to declare any disability on their application. This information does not form part of the admission selection process, but is used to identify support needs early on.
We encourage applicants who disclose a disability to contact our Disability team to have an early discussion about their support needs. This discussion will not form part of the admissions decision process, but would focus on preparation for any support needed by the applicant.
All applicants who have declared a disability and/or additional support needs and have accepted an offer of admission, will be contacted by a Disability Adviser to discuss their individual requirements and the support that may be available to them should they choose to study at QMU.
The University will make every effort to ensure that required support arrangements are put in place, however this is dependent on the student applying in sufficient time and identifying their disability clearly at the time of application.
13. Care Leavers
The University recognises that care leavers who have spent time in local authority care, either in residential accommodation, foster care or under supervision orders at home, may require additional advice and support during both the pre-entry and post-entry transitional period. We offer all care leavers additional support from our Student Funding Advisor, who will guide them to the support available across the University Student Funding
The University is committed to increasing the number of applications and entrants from applicants who have spent time in care. We therefore strongly encourage care leavers to declare this as part of their application. Please see the University’s Contextual Admissions Policy for further information.
14. Fraud and Plagiarism
14.1 All applicants are responsible for ensuring that the information they submit within their application is accurate and current.
14.2 Where it is discovered that an applicant has submitted incorrect or inaccurate information, the University will investigate to determine if there has been an error, fraud or plagiarism, and reserves the right to reject an application, or withdraw an offer of admission.
14.3 Qualifications submitted in support of an application, are subject to verification at matriculation.
15. Complaints and appeals
STAGE 1 - If an applicant is not satisfied with the feedback on their application and wishes to appeal the decision, they can do so by contacting the admissions office by email in the first instance. An administrative review of the decision will be conducted and if an error has been made then the decision will be corrected straight away.
STAGE 2 – If there has been no administrative error and the appeal is concerning the judgment of the decision, then the decision will be reconsidered by the academic admissions tutor and the Head of Admissions and Recruitment.
A decision will be communicated within 14 days of receipt of the appeal.
Complaints about any aspect of our admissions policy or service should firstly be raised with the member of staff responsible. If the complaint cannot be resolved, then applicants may submit a formal complaint either by using our complaints form or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. All complaints will be answered within five working days. TheUniversity’s Complaints Procedure can be found within the Quality pages of the website.
16. Data Protection and GDPR
The University needs to keep certain personal data about students to fulfil its purpose and to meet its legal obligations to funding bodies and government. In processing and holding personal data, supplied as part of the Admissions process, the University will comply fully with the terms of GDPR and the Data Protection Act 2018.
Please see the data privacy statement on our website for further information:
17 Admissions Contact Detail
The Admissions team can be contacted at:
- Queen Margaret University
- Queen Margaret University Drive
- EH21 6UU
- Tel +44 (0)131 474 0000
- Email: Admission Email Address
Head of Admissions and Recruitment
Reviewed August 2021
Anti-Bullying & Harassment Policy and Procedure for Students
Queen Margaret University is wholly committed to fostering an environment in which all students, regardless of their background and personal circumstances should be treated with dignity, respect and fairness.
The University recognises that bullying and harassment can have a serious detrimental effect on the confidence, morale, performance and health of those affected, and may in extreme circumstances ultimately lead to students withdrawing from studies. The University believes that this situation should never be permitted to materialise and will treat all reports of bullying and harassment seriously.
The purpose of this policy is to promote a culture where bullying and harassment are acknowledged to be unacceptable and are not tolerated under any circumstances. Where allegations of such behaviour occur, this policy seeks to ensure that they are dealt with fairly, and in a timely fashion, without fear of victimisation.
2. Aims and Objectives
The aim of this policy and procedure is to:
- Create and sustain a learning environment which is free from discrimination, bullying, harassment or victimisation;
- Tackle swiftly and effectively incidents of bullying, harassment or victimisation of, or by, students;
- Ensure that individuals are supported and encouraged in the event of any legitimate complaint;
- Establish that all members of the University - staff and students - are responsible for ensuring that individuals do not suffer any form of bullying or harassment;
- Safeguard the respect for students’ diverse talents, skills and experience;
- Promote the message that harassment, bullying or victimisation will not be tolerated in any form.
3. Scope of this Policy
This policy applies to all students at Queen Margaret University, irrespective of whether an alleged incident takes place on University premises or elsewhere. All types of bullying and harassment, as described in this policy, are covered, whether or not the interactions have occurred between students and other students, or whether the allegations relate to students’treatment by University staff. This policy covers face-to-face actions, as well as non-face-to- face interactions, for example email, written correspondence, social networking sites and text messages.
The University shall, where possible and appropriate, seek to ensure that partners have an equivalent policy in place.
4. Data Protection
All information gathered on individuals as part of the Anti-Bullying and Harassment Policy and Procedure will be processed in accordance with the Data Protection Act 2018.
5. Monitor and Review
Monitoring of the Bullying and Harassment policy will be undertaken by the University’s Governance and Quality Enhancement Team and Student Services.
6. Harassment Defined
The definition of harassment in the Equality Act 2010 is wide. It is ‘where a person (A) engages in unwanted conduct related to a relevant protected characteristic and the conduct has the purpose or effect of:
(a) violating another person's (B's) dignity, or
(b) creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for B’
It should be noted that 'unwanted' does not mean that express objection has to be made, and a serious one-off incident can amount to harassment.
It is important to note that differences of personality traits or culture and the misinterpretation of social signals can mean that what is perceived as harassment by one person may not seem so to another. The defining feature, however, is that the behaviour is offensive or intimidating to the recipient, and as such would be regarded as harassment by any reasonable person. It would need to be considered that, if the purpose of the conduct was to violate the individual’s dignity or create an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment, then this is sufficient to establish harassment. However if harassment was not the purpose, but an individual argues that this was the effect of the conduct, the Equality Act says that in deciding whether conduct has that effect, consideration must be given to:
- the perception of the claimant;
- the other circumstances of the case; and
- whether it is reasonable for the conduct to have had that effect.
Forms of harassment involve offensive conduct or behaviour directed at a person’s racial origin, religion and beliefs (including non-belief), gender, disabilities, sexual orientation, age, family status (including their role as a carer or as a part-time worker, fixed term worker), marital status, political opinion, socio-economic status, or because they are a member of a trade union or similar associations or some other personal characteristic. It can also include the inappropriate use, or threat of use, of physical and mental power, authority or through social media.
With regard to religion and belief, it should be noted that there may be cultural differences which make some forms of behaviour generally regarded as acceptable by one group and unacceptable to another because such behaviour does not form part of the normal social interaction of that particular group.
Examples of potential harassment could be:
- Unwanted physical contact or physical attack.
- Offensive, suggestive or derogatory remarks, gestures, mockery, taunts, pranks, jokes,
- insults or ridicule; in person, on the telephone, by emails or social networking sites.
- Verbal abuse, threats or intrusive questioning.
- Insulting remarks based on the grounds of personal appearance or personal circumstances.
- Using an individual’s known disability to demoralise them.
- Leering at another individual’s body.
- Compromising invitations or gifts.
- Requests or demands for sexual favours.
- Circulation or displays of offensive, suggestive or degrading materials (such as pictures, graffiti or objects) in the teaching, learning, living or working environment.
- Sending of unwanted messages via e-mail and social networking sites.
- Ridicule for cultural differences such as appearance, dress, diet, religion or ethnic background.
- Subjecting an individual to group pressure.
- Derogatory or belittling remarks in front of others regarding appearance, work or personal attributes.
- Deliberately or repeatedly ignoring someone.
- Unwarranted exclusions.
- Any comments which imply that gender, age, sexual orientation, disability, race or ethnic or national origins, religious or other belief impairs the individual’s ability to perform satisfactorily.
- Any other unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct.
- Incitement to commit any such act.
Harassment may or may not be linked to discrimination and can be based on characteristics which are protected under the Equality Act 2010:
- Gender reassignment;
- Marriage or civil partnership;
- Pregnancy and maternity;
- Religion and belief;
- Sexual orientation.
Discrimination can be direct, associative, perceptive or indirect. The table below defines these terms. It is important to remember that the legislation focuses on the outcome of the discriminatory behaviour over the motive or intent.
This occurs when an individual is treated less favourably than others are, or would be, treated in similar circumstances.
This occurs when an individual is treated less favourably than another because they are associated with a person who has a protected equality characteristic. This is a form of direct discrimination. The key point to note is that the person bringing the claim does not need to have the protected characteristic (i.e. the protected characteristic can belong to another person). It is sufficient that the treatment is because of a protected characteristic. A student may also be able to bring a claim for harassment in those situations.
This occurs when the protected characteristic is a perceived characteristic which the individual does not actually have. An individual may also be able to bring a claim for harassment in those situations.
This occurs when a condition is applied equally to all students but one group is particularly disadvantaged, and this disadvantage cannot be justified as being necessary for the efficient running of the University.
8. Bullying Defined
Bullying is a particular form of personal harassment and may be characterised as offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour, as abuse or misuse of power, position or knowledge through means intended to undermine, humiliate, denigrate or injure the recipient. It may be by an individual against an individual or involve groups of people. It may be obvious or it may be insidious (such as ignoring a person).
Bullying can result from a misuse of individual power derived from perceived superior status/position, physical strength or force of personality. It can also arise from the collective power that arises out of strength of numbers.
Bullying is normally characterised by the emergence of a pattern of behaviour however if one act is deemed serious enough, this could amount to bullying.
Examples of potential bullying could be:
- Public humiliation
- repeated shouting or swearing at an individual
- Undermining an individual; and
- intimidating behaviour
Victimisation is when an individual is treated less favourably than they would otherwise have been because:
- They have made a claim or complaint;
- They have helped someone else to make a claim by giving evidence or information; or
- It is known or suspected that they are contemplating bringing a complaint.
Under the Equality Act 2010, these are known as ‘protected acts’. If a member of the University treats a student less favourably because they have carried out a protected act, this could be regarded as unlawful victimisation. There must be a link between the student’s protected act and the resulting treatment of that student.
Assessment of Criminal Convictions
If you have a criminal conviction, you should have declared this on your application form. If a declaration has been made, the nature of the conviction will have been investigated and a decision made on whether or not you may be admitted to the programme.
We would like to emphasise that a criminal record does not automatically prevent you from joining a programme. However, failure to disclose a criminal conviction is a disciplinary offence. Failure to declare on your application form and/or providing misleading information will result in your being asked to withdraw from your programme.
Students of certain programmes at QMU are required to complete a clinical placement. Duties on these placements may involve caring for children and vulnerable adults.
In line with NHS policy and Scottish Government regulations, students will not be allowed to undertake clinical placement until the appropriate criminal record checks have been made.
Below is a list of the specific programmes this covers at QMU:
- BA (Hons) Education Studies
- BA (Hons) Education Studies (Primary)
- BSc Paramedic Science
- BSc (Hons) Podiatry / Master of Podiatry
- BSc (Hons) Physiotherapy / Master of Physiotherapy
- BSc (Hons) Diagnostic Radiography / Master of Radiography: Diagnostic
- BSc (Hons) Therapeutic Radiography / Master of Radiography: Therapeutic
- BSc (Hons) Occupational Therapy / Master of Occupational Therapy
- BSc (Hons) Speech and Language Therapy / Master of Speech and Language Therapy
- BSc (Hons) Dietetics / Master of Dietetics
- BSc (Hons) Nursing / Master of Nursing
- MSc/PgDip (pre-reg) Dietetics
- MSc/PgDip (pre-reg) Occupational Therapy
- MSc/PgDip (pre-reg) Physiotherapy
- MSc/PgDip (pre-reg) Speech and Language Therapy
- MSc/PgDip (pre-reg) Audiology
- MSc/PgDip (pre-reg) Diagnostic Radiography
- PgDip Radiotherapy & Oncology
- MSc Art Psychotherapy
- MSc Music Therapy
- MSc Person Centred Practice (professional pathways only)
- PGDE Secondary (Home Economics)
BA (Hons) Drama/ Performance/ Theatre and Film students may also require a PVG Scheme Record for working with Children, depending on their specialism/dissertation projects. These are normally applied for during their second year of study (for specialisms) or third year for Honours projects. BSc (Hons) Physical Activity, Health & Wellbeing and BSc (Hons) Nutrition students may also require a PVG Scheme Record for working with Children, depending on their placement experience, and this will be advised by the Programme Leader when required.
As you may have been advised in your offer from Admissions, you need to provide “a satisfactory PVG check from Disclosure Scotland and/or equivalent police check.” If you have not applied for this yet, please do so as a matter of urgency.
New UK students should have already received a PVG application pack from the Admissions office. However, if you do require a new pack, please contact the Admissions Office.
For International or European applicants, this is in addition to a comparable check from the police in your home country. While we appreciate that the process is likely to be difficult depending on nationality, students are nevertheless asked to investigate the availability of alternative forms of evidence of their personal record.
Code of Conduct
Queen Margaret University has introduced this Code of Conduct to help every student enjoy and benefit from their education and life with us.
Our ethos is one of mutual understanding and respect, through the development of friendships and by adopting good citizenship skills and attitudes. Through this we wish to enhance each person’s experience throughout their time with us.
This Code of Conduct has been developed to provide clear guidelines of acceptable behaviour. This general set of Principles is supported by more detailed Codes of Conduct specifically relating to Halls of Residence, Library, Learning Environments and IT facilities.
It is expected that all students will wish to support and actively implement this Code of Conduct.
This Code of Conduct should be read in conjunction with the following:
- The University’s current Student and Academic Regulations, Disciplinary, Fitness to Practise and Appeals Procedures outlined on the University’s website under Regulations, Policies and Procedures.
- The University’s Equality Policy, which is to be read in conjunction with the University’s Mainstreaming Report. See Equality and Diversity on our website.
The Code of Conduct is compatible with the University’s Data Protection Policy.
The Code of Conduct is available in different formats. Details can be obtained from the Division of Governance and Quality Enhancement by emailing Dawn Martin
Student's Union Endorsement
The Students’ Union has worked closely with the University in providing this Code of Conduct for all students. The Students’ Union fully supports this Code of Conduct because we believe this will help create a better learning and working environment whilst also ensuring a safe and enjoyable place to live. The Students’ Union will also use this Code ofConduct for all activities undertaken by the Union and will use it in conjunction with our own Disciplinary Procedures should an incident take place within the Union or whilst representing the Students’ Union if the Union deems it necessary.
2. General Principles
2.1 All students at the University shall:
2.1.1 Accept individual and collective responsibility for maintaining a healthy working, studying and living environment within the University, respecting the institution’s policies on equal opportunities and harassment and ensuring that their conduct complies with these policies.
All persons within the University have an individual and collective responsibility to contribute to an environment which is free from harassment (e.g. psychological, verbal, physical, racial, religious, gender, sexual or on grounds of disability) and from offensive behaviour (e.g. noise, language or bullying). All persons should promote tolerance and share a common goal in learning.
2.1.2 Accept individual and collective responsibility for keeping a clean and safe working, studying and living environment, ensuring personal guests act in an appropriate manner.
All persons within the University have an individual and collective responsibility to ensure that safety is not compromised and that respect for other people and property is maintained.
2.1.3 Have a mutual respect for others especially with regard to differing cultures.
All persons within the University should demonstrate respect for local and international cultures as well as each person’s learning needs. This refers to maintaining appropriate conduct in learning environments such as the library, lecture/seminar rooms and IT facilities as well as in Halls of Residence.
2.1.4 Ensure that the University is not brought into disrepute.
All persons within the University have an individual and collective responsibility to uphold the range of policies within the institution which underpin the overarching criteria of the Code of Conduct and which are designed to ensure that everyone can work, study and live in an environment characterised by mutual respect.
3. Library Code of Conduct
3.1 This Code of Conduct has been developed to support the general University Code of Conduct.
3.2 General Principles
3.3 All students at QMU shall:
3.3.1 Accept individual and collective responsibility for maintaining a healthy working and studying environment within the University Library, promoting appropriate conduct and respecting the right of others to a quiet study environment.
All persons within QMU have an individual and collective responsibility to contribute to a study environment in the Library which promotes scholarship and learning, and where these study areas are respected. All persons should be considerate of the needs of others for an appropriate study environment and share a common goal in learning.
- Silence in areas designated as Silent Study Areas must be observed.
3.3.2 Accept individual and collective responsibility for keeping a clean and safe working and studying environment.
All persons using the QMU Library have an individual and collective responsibility to ensure that safety is not compromised, that food and drink packaging is disposed of correctly and that respect for other people and property is maintained. In particular that no library materials are damaged or defaced and that none are removed from the Library unless they have been properly issued.
- All Library users should carry their matriculation card (smart card) with them at all times and be prepared to show it if asked.
- All Library materials removed from the Library, by an individual, should be issued to their own card.
- Any vandalised property should be reported immediately.
3.3.3 Have a mutual respect for others especially with regard to differing cultures.
All persons within QMU should demonstrate respect for the range of local and international cultures as well as each person's learning needs. This means maintaining appropriate conduct in learning environments such as the Library so that the needs of all users can be met.
3.3.4 Ensure that the University is not brought into disrepute.
All persons within QMU have an individual and collective responsibility to comply with the law, e.g. Copyright and Data Protection. This is to ensure that everyone can work and study in an environment characterised by mutual respect and free from the harassment and distress which the transmission of offensive or threatening material may cause.
3.4 Specific Codes
The University’s current Student and Academic Regulations, Disciplinary and Appeals Procedures outlined on the University’s Regulations, Policies and Procedures web page.
4.0 Accommodation Code of Conduct
4.1 This Accommodation Code of Conduct has been developed to support the general University Code of Conduct.
4.2 General Principles
4.3 All students at QMU shall:
4.3.1 Accept individual and collective responsibility for maintaining a healthy working, studying and living environment within the University, respecting the institution’s policies on equal opportunities and harassment and ensuring that their conduct complies with these policies.
In particular all students should:
- maintain rooms and communal areas in a clean, tidy and hygienic condition.
- co-operate in fire evacuation practices.
- show consideration for others by minimising noise levels, in particular between 11 p.m. and 8 a.m.
4.3.2 Have a mutual respect for others especially with regard to differing cultures.
All persons within QMU Halls of Residence should demonstrate respect for the range of local and international cultures within the University. You must not harass, threaten, bully or victimise other residents, staff or visitors. This will include displaying sexually explicit or politically offensive notices.
- You are expected to show courtesy and consideration to those with whom you are sharing facilities, to your neighbours and to University staff and visitors.
4.3.3 Ensure that the University is not brought into disrepute.
- All persons within QMU Halls of Residence have an individual and collective responsibility to ensure that all students can live and study in an environment characterised by mutual respect.
- You are asked to consider the impact that unacceptable behaviour may have on local residents and to behave as an ambassador of Queen Margaret University.
The Accommodation Code of Conduct is underpinned by the Halls of Residence Code of Conduct, which is applicable for all students in halls of residence and all persons entering halls as visitors.
5. Code of Conduct for Learning Environments
e.g. Lecture, Seminars, Tutorial, Laboratories and Placements
5.1 This Code of Conduct for Learning Environments e.g. Lectures, Seminars, Tutorials, Laboratories and Placements has been developed to support the general University Code of Conduct.
5.2 General Principles
5.3 All students at QMU shall:
5.3.1 Accept individual and collective responsibility for maintaining a healthy working, studying and living environment within the University, respecting the institution’s policies on equal opportunities and harassment and ensuring that their conduct complies with these policies.
All persons within QMU have an individual and collective responsibility to contribute to a study environment which promotes scholarship and learning. All persons should be considerate of the needs of others for an appropriate study environment and share a common goal in learning.
- Attendance at lectures, seminars etc. is essential, in particular where students’ absence may be detrimental to the performance of fellow students and the quality of learning experience gained. In addition, lateness is a discourtesy to the whole group and the group itself should make clear that lateness or other disruptive behaviour is not acceptable.
- Students are expected to prepare for lectures, seminars etc. Students who attend tutorials or seminars without doing preparatory work or contributing to the discussion will be reminded of their obligations by the tutor and, when appropriate, by student members of the group. Suitable preparation enhances the overall learning experience.
- The use of mobile phones in lectures, seminars etc. is strictly prohibited. All phones should be switched off before entry into lectures, seminars etc.
5.3.2 Accept individual and collective responsibility for keeping a clean and safe working and studying environment.
- All persons attending QMU lectures, seminars etc. should ensure that the safety of themselves and others is not compromised.
- All persons attending QMU lectures, seminars etc. should ensure respect for other people and property is maintained.
- Smoking, eating and drinking are strictly prohibited within the learning environment.
5.3.3 Have a mutual respect for others especially with regard to differing cultures.
All persons within QMU should demonstrate respect for the range of local and international cultures as well as each person's learning needs. This means maintaining appropriate conduct in learning environments such as lectures and seminars so that the needs of all users can be met.
- The University will not tolerate antisocial behaviour: this includes the use of abusive language, physical abuse, obscene comments, verbal or physical harassment, and comments or remarks that discriminate on the basis of sex, race or any other irrelevant distinction.
5.3.4 Ensure that the University is not brought into disrepute.
- All persons within QMU have an individual and collective responsibility to comply with the law, this is to ensure that all students can work and study in an environment characterised by mutual respect and free from harassment and distress.
- You are asked to consider the impact that unacceptable behaviour may have on other people and to behave as an ambassador of Queen Margaret University.
5.4 Attendance Policy
This Code of Conduct must be read in conjunction with the University’s Attendance Policy, available from the University’s Regulations, Policies and Procedures web page.
For some programmes, a more detailed attendance policy will apply, details of which will normally be available within individual programme documentation.
6. IT Facilities Code of Conduct
6.1 This IT Facilities Code of Conduct has been developed to support the general University Code of Conduct.
6.2 General Principles
6.3 All students at QMU shall:
6.3.1 Accept individual and collective responsibility for maintaining a healthy working, studying and living environment within the University, respecting the institution’s policies on equal opportunities and harassment and ensuring that their conduct complies with these policies.
All persons within QMU have an individual and collective responsibility to contribute to a study environment which promotes scholarship and learning. All persons should be considerate of the needs of others for an appropriate study environment and share a common goal in learning.
- Use of the computer systems and networks should always be legal and ethical, and reflect academic integrity and the standards of the University community. IT facilities must never be used to cause offence, worry or inconvenience to anyone.
- Users should accept the need to be restrained in the use of available resources. Electronic resources are provided to facilitate the work of students, specifically for educational, training, research or administrative purposes. Any other uses are a privilege and not a right, and must not take priority over the needs of those who require the facilities for directed academic work.
6.3.2 Accept individual and collective responsibility for keeping a clean and safe working and studying environment, ensuring personal guests act in an appropriate manner.
- All persons using QMU IT facilities have an individual and collective responsibility to ensure that the safety of themselves and others is not compromised.
- All persons using QMU IT facilities have an individual and collective responsibility to ensure respect for other people and property is maintained.
6.3.3 Have a mutual respect for others especially with regard to differing cultures.
- All persons using QMU IT facilities have an individual and collective responsibility to ensure that the study environment is characterised by mutual respect, which can help enhance the quality of learning experience.
- The University will not tolerate antisocial behaviour: this includes the use of abusive language, physical abuse, obscene comments, verbal or physical harassment, and comments or remarks that discriminate on the basis of sex, race or any other irrelevant distinction.
6.3.4 Ensure that the University is not brought into disrepute.
All persons using QMU IT facilities should adhere to appropriate statutory law eg: the Computer Misuse Act 1990, the Defamation Act 2013, Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 and the provisions of the University’s licence with the Copyright Licensing Agency, Data Protection Act 2014 and licence agreements for software. All persons using QMU IT facilities should also respect the intellectual property rights, copyright and moral rights of authors.
- All persons within QMU have an individual and collective responsibility to comply with the law, this is to ensure that all students can work and study in an environment characterised by mutual respect and free from harassment and distress.
- You are asked to consider the impact that unacceptable behaviour may have on other people and to behave as an ambassador of Queen Margaret University.
6.4 Specific Codes
The IT Facilities Code of Conduct is underpinned by the JANET Acceptable Use Policy, published by JISC) which covers all UK academic and research network activity.
7. SCIENCE LABORATORY CODE OF CONDUCT
7.2 General Principles
7.3 All students at QMU shall:
7.3.1 Accept individual and collective responsibility for maintaining a healthy working, studying and living environment with the University, respecting the institution’s policies on equal opportunities and harassment and ensuring that their conduct complies with these policies.
All persons within QMU have an individual and collective responsibility to contribute to a study environment, which promotes scholarship and learning. All persons should be considerate of the needs of others for an appropriate study environment and share a common goal in learning.
- The use of computer systems within laboratories is subject to the same code of conduct identified for IT laboratories in QMU.
- The use of mobile phones within laboratory environments is strictly prohibited. All phones should be switched off before entry into laboratories.
7.3.2 Accept individual and collective responsibility for keeping a clean and safe working and studying environment.
All persons using the QMU science laboratories have an individual and collective responsibility to ensure that safety is not compromised, that food is not consumed and that respect for other people and property is maintained. In particular that no laboratory equipment is damaged and that no item is removed from the library unless it has been properly issued.
- Smoking, eating and drinking are strictly prohibited within laboratories, with the following exceptions:
Food or fluid intake specifically associated with experimental procedures and specified in laboratory schedules.
- Fluid intake following exercise testing regimes in which an individual may become dehydrated.
- Read and observe any special safety instructions displayed in the laboratory, or which have been issued to them (e.g. Local rules for Radiation Safety, Safe use of Gas Cylinders).
- Ensure familiarity with equipment, including safety devices before beginning work
- Wear protective equipment as required and directed when working in the laboratory.
- Report all breakages and spills to a member of staff. Broken glass, needles and other sharps should be placed in appropriate bins or sharps boxes and not mixed with waste paper.
- Take responsibility for the safe storage of clothing, bags and personal items, so that they do not represent a hazard within the laboratory environment.
- Students should not work in laboratories outwith timetabled classes, unless appropriate arrangements have been made for supervised group or individual project work. This should include the completion of a Risk Assessment, which must be fully understood and signed by both student and supervisor. COSHH forms must be completed if required.
- Students should request equipment for project work using the appropriate form and should ensure its safe return to a member of staff.
- The University will not tolerate antisocial behaviour: this includes the use of abusive language, physical abuse, obscene comments, verbal or physical harassment, and comments or remarks that discriminate on the basis of sex, race or any other irrelevant distinction.
7.3.4 Ensure that the University is not brought into disrepute.
7.4 Specific Codes
Students are expected to follow specific codes of conduct, regarding equipment, hazards or procedures where these are in force in specific laboratory areas.
Complaints Procedure - A guide for Students
Queen Margaret University is committed to providing an excellent education and high-quality services to our students from enrolment to graduation.
We value complaints and use information from them to help us improve our services.
1. If something goes wrong or you are dissatisfied with our services, please tell us. This leaflet describes our complaints procedure and how to make a complaint. It also tells you about how we will handle your complaint and what you can expect from us.
What is a complaint?
2. We regard a complaint as any expression of dissatisfaction about our action or lack of action, or about the standard of service provided by us or on our behalf.
What can I complain about?
3. You can complain about things like:
- failure or refusal to provide a service
- inadequate quality or standard of service, or an unreasonable delay in providing a
the quality of facilities or learning resources
dissatisfaction with one of our policies or its impact on the individual (although it is recognised that policy is set at the discretion of the institution)
failure to properly apply law, procedure or guidance when delivering services
failure to follow the appropriate administrative process
conduct, treatment by or attitude of a member of staff or contractor (except where there are arrangements in place for the contractor to handle the complaint themselves);
disagreement with a decision, (except where there is a statutory procedure for challenging that decision, or an established appeals process followed throughout the sector).
4. Your complaint may involve more than one [institution] service or be about someone working on our behalf.
What can’t I complain about?
5. There are some things we can’t deal with through our complaints handling procedure. These include:
- a request for information or an explanation of policy or practice
- a response to an invitation to provide feedback through a formal mechanism such as a questionnaire or committee membership
- a concern about student conduct
- a routine first-time request for a service
- a request for compensation only
- an insurance claim
- issues that are in court or have already been heard by a court or a tribunal (if you decide to take legal action, you should let us know as the complaint cannot then be considered under this process)
- disagreement with a decision where there is a statutory procedure for challenging that decision (such as for freedom of information and subject access requests), or an established appeals process followed throughout the sector (such as an appeal about an academic decision on assessment or admission)
- a request for information under the Data Protection or Freedom of Information (Scotland) Acts, or the Environmental Information Regulations
- a grievance by a staff member or a grievance relating to employment or staff recruitment
- a concern raised internally by a member of staff (which was not about a service they received, such as a whistleblowing concern)
- concerns about services outwith the Institution’s delegated responsibilities (e.g. conference and accommodation services to commercial clients)
- a concern about a child or an adult’s safety
- an attempt to reopen a previously concluded complaint or to have a complaint reconsidered where we have already given our final decision
- abuse or unsubstantiated allegations about our Institution or staff where such actions would be covered by our [unacceptable actions policy or equivalent]; or
- a concern about the actions or service of a different organisation, where we have no involvement in the issue (except where the other organisation is delivering services on our behalf).
6. If other procedures or rights of appeal can help you resolve your concerns, we will give information and advice to help you.
Who can complain?
7. Anyone who receives, requests or is directly affected by our services can make a complaint to us. This includes the representative of someone who is dissatisfied with our service (for example, a relative, friend, advocate or adviser). If you are making a complaint on someone else’s behalf, you will normally need their written consent. Please also read the section on Getting help to make your complaint below.
How do I complain?
9. It is easier for us to resolve complaints if you make them quickly and directly to the service concerned. Where possible, your concerns should be raised with the relevant staff member, tutor, university representative or school office. Then they can try to address the issue.
10. When complaining, please tell us:
- your full name and contact details
- as much as you can about the complaint
- what has gone wrong; and
- what outcome you are seeking.
Our contact details
- Phone: 0131 474 0000 (ask for complaints when prompted);
- Email: Complaints Email Address
- Post: Complaints, Division of Governance and Quality Enhancement,
- Queen Margaret
- University, Musselburgh,
- East Lothian, EH21 6UU
How long do I have to make a complaint?
11. Normally, you must make your complaint within six months of:
- the event you want to complain about; or
- finding out that you have a reason to complain.
12. In exceptional circumstances, we may be able to accept a complaint after the time limit. If you feel that the time limit should not apply to your complaint, please tell us why.
What happens when I have complained?
13. We will always tell you who is dealing with your complaint. Our complaints procedure has two stages.
Stage 1: Frontline response
14. We aim to respond to complaints quickly (where possible, when you first tell us about the issue). This could mean an on-the-spot apology and explanation if something has clearly gone wrong, or immediate action to resolve the problem.
15. We will give you our decision at stage 1 in five working days or less, unless there are exceptional circumstances.
16. If you are not satisfied with the response we give at this stage, we will tell you what you can do next. If you choose to, you can take your complaint to stage 2. You must normally ask us to consider your complaint at stage 2 either:
- within six months of the event you want to complain about or finding out that you have a reason to complain; or
- within two months of receiving your stage 1 response (if this is later).
17. In exceptional circumstances, we may be able to accept a stage 2 complaint after the time limit. If you feel that the time limit should not apply to your complaint, please tell us why.
Stage 2: Investigation
19. When using stage 2:
- we will acknowledge receipt of your complaint within three working days
- we will confirm our understanding of the complaint we will investigate and what
- outcome you are looking for
- we will try to resolve your complaint where we can (in some cases we may suggest using an alternative complaint resolution approach, such as mediation); and where we cannot resolve your complaint, we will give you a full response as soon as possible, normally within 20 working days.
20. If our investigation will take longer than 20 working days, we will tell you. We will tell you our revised time limits and keep you updated on progress.
What if I’m still dissatisfied?
21. After we have given you our final decision, if you are still dissatisfied with our decision or the way we dealt with your complaint, you can ask the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO) to look at it.
The SPSO are an independent organisation that investigates complaints. They are not an advocacy or support service (but there are other organisations who can help you with advocacy or support). You can ask the SPSO to look at your complaint if:
- you have gone all the way through Queen Margaret University's complaints handling procedure
- it is less than 12 months after you became aware of the matter you want to complain about; and
- the matter has not been (and is not being) considered in court.
The SPSO will ask you to complete a complaint form and provide a copy of our final response to your complaint. You can do this online at www.spso.org.uk/complain/form or call them on Freephone 0800 377 7330. You may wish to get independent support or advocacy to help you progress your complaint. See the section on Getting help to make your complaint below.
The SPSO’s contact details are:
Freepost SPSO, SPSO, Bridgeside House, 99 McDonald Road, Edinburgh EH7 4NS
Opening hours: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday 9am–5pm, Tuesday 10am–5pm
SPSO freephone 0800 377 7330
Website: Scottish Public Services Ombudsman website
Fax 0800 377 7331
Getting help to make your complaint
- QMU Student Services
- QMU DisabilityServices
- QMU Students’ Union
- Scottish Independent Advocacy Alliance
- Citizens Advice Scotland
24. We are committed to making our service easy to use for all members of the community. In line with our statutory equalities duties, we will always ensure that reasonable adjustments are made to help you access and use our services. If you have trouble putting your complaint in writing, or want this information in another language or format, such as large font, or Braille, please tell us in person, phone us on 0131 474 0000 (asking for Complaints when prompted), or by emailing us at: QMU complaints email address
Our contact details
25. Please contact us by the following means:
Phone: 0131 474 0000 (ask for complaints when prompted);
Email: QMU complaints email address
Post: Complaints, Division of Governance and Quality Enhancement, Queen Margaret
University, Musselburgh, East Lothian, EH21 6UU.
We can also give you this leaflet in other languages and formats (such as large print, audio and Braille).
Quick guide to our complaints procedure
[Flow Chat ]
Compliant Handling Procedure and Unacceptable Behaviour
The actions of complainants who are angry, demanding or persistent may result in unreasonable demands on time and resources or unacceptable behaviour towards the University’s staff. The University will, therefore, put into place policies and procedures to protect staff from such unacceptable behaviour. These policies and procedures will include the requirement to inform the complainant of any decision to restrict their access, their right of appeal, and any procedures for reviewing such a decision to restrict contact.
The University conforms to the principle that complainants have the right to be heard, understood and respected and the University strives to respond to all complaints in a fair, transparent and proportionate manner. However, occasionally the behaviour or actions of individuals prevents the University from dealing with the complaint under the Complaints Handling Procedure. The University is committed to equality of opportunity of all and expects all members of its community to be treated courteously and with respect. This Policy details the procedure to be followed in the event of unacceptable behaviour being determined, and procedures for reviewing that decision.
1 DEFINING UNACCEPTABLE BEHAVIOUR
It is recognised that people may act out of character at times of trouble, distress or as a symptom of illness. Behaviour that is forceful or determined is not, of itself, considered unacceptable. However, the actions of a person that result in unreasonable behaviour or demands on University staff or services or aggressive behaviour will be considered unacceptable. Examples of this are as follows:-
1. Unreasonable demands: a demand becomes unreasonable when it starts to (or complying with that demand would) impact substantially on the work of the staff or on University services. This could relate to the amount of information sought or the nature and scale of the service expected. All circumstances should be taken into account. Examples could be repeatedly changing the substance of a request or raising unrelated concerns.
2.Unreasonable levels of contact: if the level of contact from an individual exceeds what would be considered normal or reasonable, for example, numerous phone calls over a short space of time or being inundated with further information, then the contact may be considered unacceptable, particularly when this contact impacts on the complaint handler’s ability to undertake other work tasks.
3. Unreasonable use of the complaints process: when an individual submits multiple complaints which have the objective of preventing the University pursuing a legitimate aim or implementing a legitimate decision.
4. Aggressive or abusive behaviour: behaviour or language, whether spoken or written, that may cause staff or students to feel afraid, threatened or abused will not be accepted. This can include threats, physical violence, inappropriate gestures, indecent comments, personal verbal abuse, discriminatory or derogatory remarks, rudeness, inflammatory statement or unsubstantiated allegations.
2. MANAGING UNACCEPTABLE BEHAVIOUR
If an individual’s behaviour adversely affects the ability of a member of staff to do their work or provide a service to others, that member of staff will be entitled to restrict the contact that individual has with the University. If that individual is a member of staff or a student then the relevant discipline procedures may need to be considered. In serious cases, there may be a termination of all direct (face-to-face, voice or email) contact with the individual and incidents may be reported to the police.
The following actions may be used in situations where an individual shows unreasonable persistence:-
- Limit contact to telephone calls from the complainant at set times on set days;
- Restrict contact to a nominated member of staff;
- See the complainant by appointment only;
- Restrict contact to written correspondence only, this may be through a third party;Return all correspondence and documents and in extreme cases, advise that further correspondence will be destroyed; or
- Take other actions as appropriate, for example, restricting the complainant’s University email address or blocking emails from a specific address.
The threat or use of physical violence, verbal abuse or harassment towards staff will not be tolerated and is likely to result in the termination of all contact with the complainant. If the complainant is a member of staff or student, the relevant discipline procedures will be considered.
Staff have the right to politely end telephone calls or meetings if an individual is considered aggressive, abusive or offensive.
3. PROCEDURE FOR MANAGING UNACCEPTABLE BEHAVIOUR
Before determining whether to use one of the actions listed above, the member of staff should consider whether:-
- The relevant complaints/appeals/freedom of information or subject access request procedure has been correctly and fully implemented in relation to that individual’s request;
- Due warning has been given to the complainant that continued contact may be deemed unacceptable;
- Any reasonable adjustments have been made for that individual; and
- There has been due regard to any of the protected characteristics in relation to the individual.
Staff should, where possible, try to diffuse the situation by calmly informing the individual that their behaviour is unacceptable and must stop. Staff can ask their line manager to assist with this as appropriate. Should this approach not work, the member of staff should approach their line manager who will determine whether the actions of that person affects one member of staff or the whole team and then take the appropriate action to limit contact. When staff across the University are affected, the University Secretary should be consulted.
Decisions to restrict contact can only be made after the individual has been given an opportunity to modify their behaviour. The decision should be communicated in writing, with clear contact arrangements specified and the length of time the restriction will be in place.
4 APPEAL, RECORD AND REVIEW
The individual concerned should be given the opportunity to appeal the decision to restrict contact. The appeal should be referred to the University Secretary who may nominate another senior member of staff to determine on whether the restriction was made appropriately. The procedure undertaken, the proportionality of the decision and the reasoning for the decision to restrict contact may all be reviewed. The appeal will be considered on the balance of probabilities. The decision of the University Secretary, or of their properly appointed delegate, is final.
Any decision to restrict contact with an individual should be thoroughly recorded, with clear and transparent reasons, and an appropriate entry should be made in the individual’s file.
The decision to restrict contact may be reconsidered should the individual display reasonable behaviour. A review procedure, at set intervals, should be included in the correspondence which communicates the decision to restrict contact.
Data Protection: Students Privacy Statement
Who we are
This is the privacy statement of Queen Margaret University. This privacy statement explains how we collect and use personal information about you.
Queen Margaret University (QMU) is a Data Controller in terms of the General Data Protection Regulations and the Data Protection Act 2018. The University is registered with the Information Commissioner’s Office. Our Registration Number Z6013920.
We are a public authority under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and a Scottish public authority under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002. Personal Information that we collect and hold about you is used by us for our statutory and/or public functions. Where we collect or share data it is on the basis of the exercise of official authority vested in us as a public authority, and on the basis of public interest.
Processing of your personal information is necessary for the performance of a task carried out in the public interest or in the exercise of official authority vested in us as the Data Controller (See GDPR Article 6(1)(e)) and for statistical and research purposes (See GDPR Article 89). Processing of Special Categories of data is necessary for statistical and research purposes in accordance with Article 89(1) based on the duties in the Equality Act 2010 (See GDPR Article 9(2)(j)).
We process personal information to enable us to provide education and support services to our students and staff; advertising and promoting the university and the services we offer; publication of the university magazine and alumni relations, undertaking research and fundraising; managing our accounts and records and providing commercial activities to our clients.
We also process personal information for the use of CCTV systems to monitor and collect visual images for the purposes of security and the prevention and detection of crime.
QMU needs to process and retain certain personal information relating to you, because you are an applicant to, or student of the University. All of your personal information will be treated in accordance with the terms of the the UK General Data Protection Regulation and the UK Data Protection Act 2018. This means that confidentiality will be respected and that appropriate security measures will be taken to prevent unauthorised disclosure.
How we collect your data
The personal data QMU holds about you is obtained from a variety of sources, including but not limited to:
- Information you have provided on your application form (including applications made directly to the University, via a third party such as UCAS, via a partner institution, or via an overseas agent)
- Information you provide us with annually at enrolment (matriculation) and during the course of your studies;
- Information related to performance, attendance and awards during your studies;
- Funding organisations such as SAAS or sponsorship bodies;
- Partner organisations such as professional bodies, employers, and other educational establishments for the purposes of external study or exchange.
Why we collect and use your personal information
This privacy statement explains how we collect and use personal information about you. When you apply and then accept your offer you enter into a contract with the University and agree to accept the University’s Terms and Conditions, and agree that the University can process your personal information for administrative and educational purposes. These include, but are not limited to:
- Administering and providing education & training.
- Managing and administering the University, including accommodation services.
- Recruitment, admissions and enrolment.
- Maintaining your student records and managing academic processes, including attendance and assessment.
- Processing financial transactions including fee payments and the administration of grants and loans.
- Providing advice and support to you, including disability services, counselling and wellbeing services, mentoring, health and safety, attendance monitoring, pastoral services (Personal
Academic Tutor system) and careers guidance.
To protect your vital interests e.g. in an emergency situation.
Verifying your identity where this is required.
Contacting you by post, email or telephone.
Managing behavioural or disciplinary issues, appeals and complaints.
Providing you with information about educational programmes and services.
Managing and monitoring access to University services including library, IT, printing, sports, catering and events.
Research including monitoring quality and performance.
Seeking feedback on University programmes, services and facilities.
Graduation and confirmation of awards.
Statistical and archive purposes.
Preventing and detecting crime, fraud or corruption.
To meet our obligations under equality law.
Special categories of personal information
Under the UK Equality Act 2010, we need to collect sensitive personal data about our applicants and students on UK campuses to assist with monitoring equality of opportunity and eliminating unlawful discrimination. We hold this information in strictest confidence and only disclose it, again in confidence, to bodies with a statutory duty to collect it, such as the Higher Education Statistics Agency. You can choose whether you want to provide information for this purpose.
Special categories of personal information are afforded an extra level of security and confidentiality. This includes information about racial or ethnic origin, religious or philosophical beliefs, trade union membership, data concerning physical or mental health, data concerning sexual life or sexual orientation and data relating to criminal offences, convictions and sentences.
If a student or applicant declares that they have a disability, we have a duty to disclose this information on a need-to-know basis to staff to ensure that reasonable adjustments are made, enabling disabled students to meet their full academic potential.
Access to your personal information
The University will manage your information securely and will restrict access to only those who need to use it in the course of their duties. The University will put in place technical and organisational measures necessary to ensure the security of your information.
The University will only disclose your information to third parties where we:
- Have a legal basis to do so under the General Data Protection Regulation; or
- Are required to under a statutory or regulatory obligation; or
- Have your consent.
Sharing your personal data
To fulfil our statutory or legal obligations your data may be provided, without your explicit consent, to organisations or agents acting on their behalf including but not limited to:
For academic purposes
- With a partner institution to deliver a programme collaboratively or jointly between the University and the partner institution.
- With our external examiners: to check that our assessment of your work is fair.
- For official independent assessment of our programmes e.g. by the QAA.
- Verify your attendance and qualifications, e.g. in a reference for a potential employer or agency (with consent).
- Confirm your attendance, progress and assessment marks to your sponsor or the institution through which you are studying (if this is not QMU).
- Arrange a suitable work placement if this is part of your course.
- If you have taken part in the Lothians Equal Access Programme for Schools (LEAPS), which provides advice and support to help eligible students to enter Higher Education, we may share limited information with LEAPS about your progress and outcome of your studies, in order to improve the LEAPS service for future participants.
- With relevant support agencies to enable appropriate adjustments to be made in line with an individual needs assessment.
- Publicise your award in our graduation programme and in the list of awards we provide in press releases. You have the right to opt out of your award being detailed in the press release.
To meet statutory and legal obligations
- The Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA). For more information on what HESA does with your personal data please see the HESA Student Collection Notices.
- The Scottish Funding Council (SFC).
- The Student Loans Company (SLC)
- The Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS).
- Home Office/UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI).
- The Office for Students.
- UKRI, including agents managing the Research Excellence Framework (REF)
- HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC)
- Local authority for Council Tax exemption purposes.
- Electoral Registration Office in accordance with the Representation of the People (Scotland)Regulations 2001.
- Professional bodies, for example HCPC, NMC, GTCS.
- Embassies and other Governments.
- Law enforcement agencies and debt controllers.
- Potential employers or education and placement providers.
- Research surveys approved by the University covering student progress, attitudes, social and financial circumstances including the National Student Survey (NSS) and the International Student Barometer (ISB).
- Relevant authorities dealing with emergency situations at the University.
- The University also provides limited information to the QMU Students’ Union for the purpose of academic representation, running of elections, administering clubs, societies and sports clubs and social marketing activities.
International data transfer
As an international organisation, the University may need to process your personal information in a country other than the one you are studying in, when this is necessary to provide you with academic and support services, meet a legal obligation, fulfil a contract with you, or where we have your consent.
Personal data may be transferred outside the European Union, to countries which may not have equivalent data protection laws. Examples of circumstances when personal data may be transferred outside the EU include:
- Managing collaborations with overseas educational institutions including student exchanges and partnership programmes
- Working with overseas recruitment agencies.
- Information posted on our website which is accessible outside the EEA.
- Some of the systems and services the University uses to store data in the Cloud which may include storage facilities based outside the EEA.
Personal information processed by consent
Where the processing of personal information falls outwith the scope of your contract with the University (i.e. the information that the University is required to process to manage and administer your time at University) then we will require another legal reason to process your data. This may require us to ask for your consent for processing. Consent will be sought when it is required.
Profiling or automated decision making
Graduation ceremonies are public events. Audio and visual images of ceremonies may be made publically available via the sale of DVDs and live broadcast at the venue, on campus and on the Internet. Names of graduands, including those graduating in absentia, are published in the graduation programme. Lists are published in the press and you will be offered the opportunity to opt out of this.
The University may take photographs and other images for possible use in University publicity and promotional material. Graduands who do not wish to be included, must inform the photographer at the time the photograph is taken.
A separate Privacy Notice is provided for Alumni Engagement.
Use of our Website
QMU respects the privacy of every individual who visits our websites or responds to our interactive advertisements. The Privacy Statement on our website outlines the information we collects via its various web pages and how we use that information. The Statement also instructs you on what to do if you do not want your personal information collected or shared when you visit QMU's website or respond to our advertisements.
Retention of your personal information
The University will retain your personal data only as long as necessary for its purposes as described. Please note, however, that even after termination of your student relationship with the University, QMU may still need to retain your personal data to satisfy its obligations to keep certain records for particular periods under applicable law. Such retention is documented in the University Records Retention Schedule, held by the Data Protection Officer.
Your rights relating to your personal information
You have the right to:
Access your information
Find out what personal data we process about you and obtain a copy of the data, free of charge within one month of your request. We may make a charge for additional copies of the same information.
Correcting your information
We want to make sure that your personal information is accurate, complete and up to date and you may ask us to correct any personal information about you that you believe does not meet these standards.
Deletion of your information
You have the right to ask us to delete personal information about you where:
- You consider that we no longer require the information for the purposes for which it was obtained.
- We are using that information with your consent and you have withdrawn your consent – see Withdrawing consent to using your information below.
- You have validly objected to our use of your personal information – see Objecting to how we may use your information below.
- Our use of your personal information is contrary to law or our other legal obligations.
Objecting to how we may use your information
You have the right at any time to require us to stop using your personal information for direct marketing purposes. In addition, where we use your personal information to perform tasks carried out in the public interest or pursuant to the legitimate interests of us or a third party then, if you ask us to, we will stop using that personal information unless there are overriding legitimate grounds to continue.
Restricting how we may use your information
In some cases, you may ask us to restrict how we use your personal information. This right might apply, for example, where we are checking the accuracy of personal information about you that we hold or assessing the validity of any objection you have made to our use of your information. The right might also apply where this is no longer a basis for using your personal information but you don't want us to delete the data. Where this right to validly exercised, we may only use the relevant personal information with your consent, for legal claims or where there are other public interest grounds to do so.
If we process personal information that you provide to us on the basis of consent or because it is necessary for the performance of a contract to which you are party, and in either case that processing is carried out by automated means, then you have the right to have that personal information transmitted to you in a machine readable format. Where technically feasible, you also have the right to have that personal information transmitted directly to another controller.
If we use your personal information on an automated basis to make decisions which significantly affect you, you have the right to ask that the decision be reviewed by an individual to whom you may make representations and contest the decision. This right only applies where we use your information with your consent or as part of a contractual relationship with you
Please contact us in any of the ways set out in the Contact information and further advice section below if you wish to exercise any of these rights.
Changes to our privacy statement
Paper copies of the privacy statement may also be obtained by request from the Data Protection Officer.
This privacy statement was last updated on 10 May 2018.
Contact details and further advice
If you have any queries about the processing of your personal data as described above, please contact the University’s Data Protection Officer. You can do this by email:Data Protection Officer
telephone: 0131 474 0000 or post:
Data Protection Officer
Queen Margaret University Queen Margaret University Drive Musselburgh
We seek to resolve directly all complaints about how we handle personal information. If you have any issues about this statement or the way the University has handled your personal information, please contact the University Data Protection Officer in the first instance.
If you are dissatisfied with the response from the University, you have the right to lodge a complaint with the Information Commissioner’s Office:
Regulations Governing Discipline
1 Preliminary matters
1.1 All students of the University are subject to the jurisdiction of the Principal in respect of their studies and their conduct. It is a condition of entry to the University that each student shall conform to the published rules and regulations.
1.2 Under these regulations the University has the power to discipline students and to suspend or expel any student for good cause.
1.3 Once disciplinary proceedings have been instituted against a student under these regulations, no disciplinary action will normally be taken against the student under other disciplinary rules or regulations within the University for the same misconduct. However, where an allegation of misconduct is upheld against a student on a health care programme that requires professional registration, that student may be referred to a Fitness to Practise Panel.
1.4 References within these regulations to any University officer shall include their properly appointed nominee.
2.1 Any student studying or registered at the University shall be subject to disciplinary measures if they are found to be guilty of misconduct as defined below.
2.2 The essence of misconduct under these regulations is:
a) Improper interference with the functioning or activities of the University, or of those who work or study in the University; or
b) Action which otherwise improperly damages the University or its reputation.
2.3 In particular, the following shall constitute misconduct, whether occurring on University premises or elsewhere:
a) Any conduct which constitutes a criminal offence.
b) Disruption of, or improper interference with, the academic, administrative, sporting, social or other activities of the University.
c) Obstruction of, or improper interference with, the functions, duties or activities of any student or member of staff of the University, or any visitor to the University.
d) Violent, indecent, disorderly, threatening, intimidating or offensive behaviour or language.
e) Harassment of any student or member of staff of the University, or any visitor to the University, on the grounds of sex, sexual orientation, race or disability.
f) Fraud, deceit, deception or dishonesty in relation to the University or its staff, students or visitors
g) Cheating or plagiarism in academic course work or in examinations
h) Theft, misappropriation or misuse of University property, or the property of the University’s staff, students or visitors, including computer misuse.
i) Misuse or unauthorised use of University premises.
j) Damage to University property, or the property of the University's staff, students or visitors, caused intentionally or recklessly.
k) Action likely to cause injury or impair safety on University premises.
l) Failure to respect the rights of others to freedom of belief and freedom of speech.
m) Breach of the provisions of any University code, rule or regulation
n) Failure to disclose personal details to a member of staff of the University in circumstances in which it is reasonable to require that such information be given.
3. Involvement of the police and criminal courts
3.1 The following procedures apply where alleged misconduct is reported to the Principal, and the misconduct, if proved, would also constitute a serious offence under the criminal law.
3.2 A serious offence is one that is likely to attract a custodial sentence if proved in a criminal court or one that can be tried as a criminal offence only at the High Court/Crown Court.
3.3 Where the Principal does not regard the alleged misconduct as constituting a serious offence, s/he may decide that it is dealt with internally. If the offence is reported to the police, the Principal may decide to defer action until the police and/or courts have dealt with the matter.
3.4 If the Principal regards the alleged offence as serious, no internal disciplinary action, other than suspension or exclusion from the University, will normally be taken until the matter has been reported to the police, and either a prosecution has been completed or a decision not to prosecute has been taken.
3.5 The University has the right to report any alleged criminal offence to the police. However, if a person claims to be the victim of a serious offence committed by a student, but does not wish the police to be involved, the Principal may agree not to report the matter to the police. In such circumstances the University will not normally proceed with internal disciplinary measures for the serious offence, although it may take disciplinary action over other related offences.
3.6 Where a finding of misconduct has been made under these regulations, and a student has also been sentenced by a criminal court on the same facts, the penalty imposed by the criminal court will be taken into account in deciding the penalty under these regulations.
4 Suspension or exclusion
4.1 A student who is the subject of a complaint of misconduct or against whom a criminal charge is pending or who is the subject of police investigation, may be suspended or excluded from the University by the Principal, pending disciplinary hearing or trial.
4.2 A student who is suspended is prohibited from entering University premises and from participating in University activities. Suspension may be subject to qualification, such as permission to take an examination. The terms of the suspension will be notified in writing to the student. An order of suspension may include a requirement that the student shall have no contact with a named person or persons.
4.3 A student who is excluded from the University has restricted rights to enter University premises and to take part in University activities. The terms of the exclusion will be notified in writing to the student. An order of exclusion may include a requirement that the student shall have no contact with a named person or persons.
4.4 Orders of suspension and exclusion pending a disciplinary hearing or trial are normally to be used where necessary to protect a member or members of the University, or the property of the University or the property of a member or members of the University community. Written reasons for the decision will be recorded and made available to the student.
4.5 Unless the matter is deemed to be urgent by the Principal, no student shall be suspended or excluded unless they have been given an opportunity to make representation to the Principal. The representation may be made in person or in writing, as the student chooses, and may be put forward by the student or by the student's adviser, friend or representative. In cases deemed to be urgent by the Principal, a student may be suspended or excluded with immediate effect. An opportunity will be given to the student to make representation as soon as reasonably practicable.
4.6 A decision to suspend a student, or to exclude a student from academic activities associated with the student's programme of study, shall be subject to review at the request of the student after four weeks. Such a review will not involve a hearing, but the student, either personally or through their adviser, friend or representative, will be entitled to make written representation. The Principal will conduct the review.
4.7 In addition to the initial review, the Principal shall review the suspension or exclusion on receipt of evidence of altered circumstances that might affect the order.
4.8 A student may appeal against an order of suspension or exclusion using the process set out under section 9 of these Regulations.
5. Summary procedure
5.1 Allegations of misconduct under these regulations should be made to the University Secretary, who will refer them to the Principal. The Principal may dismiss the allegation immediately if they believe that there is no case for the student to answer, or that it is for some other reason appropriate to do so.
5.2 If the allegation is not so dismissed, and the offence does not lead the Principal to suspend or exclude the student under the provisions outlined in section 4 above, the matter will be referred to the relevant Dean of School. The Dean of School will consult with the University Secretary to determine whether or not the matter should be dealt with summarily or referred to a Disciplinary Panel, subject to paragraph 5.6 below.
5.3 If the matter is dealt with summarily, the Dean will consider written or oral evidence as they think fit. The Dean will find the student guilty of misconduct only if, on the available evidence, they are satisfied of the student's guilt. If a finding of guilt is made, they may impose any of the penalties set out in these regulations, other than expulsion from the University.
5.4 At the termination of the proceedings, the Dean will write a short report. In the event of a finding of guilt, the report will set out the misconduct alleged, a brief summary of evidence received, the grounds for the finding of guilt, the penalty imposed, and the factors taken into account in deciding the penalty. A copy of the report will be sent to the student. Where the misconduct relates to examinations or other assessed work, the report may contain recommendations concerning examination marks, and a copy of the report will also be sent to the appropriate Board of Examiners.
5.5 There is a right of appeal against a finding of guilt as set out in section 9 below.
5.6 If the University Secretary does not consider it appropriate to deal with the matter summarily, or if the student does not agree to its being dealt with in that way, then it shall be referred to a Disciplinary Committee under the procedure set out in section 6 below.
6 Disciplinary committee
6.1 The University Secretary will appoint the members of the Disciplinary Committee, and invite one of them, other than a student, to act as Convener. The Committee will have three or five members, at the discretion of the University Secretary. The members will normally include both a member of the academic staff of the University and a student of the University. The University Secretary shall have regard to the need to ensure that all members of the Committee are impartial and have had no previous involvement with the matter. Care will be taken to ensure an appropriate gender balance in the composition of the panel.
6.2 The University Secretary will appoint a clerk to the Committee and will arrange for a note of the proceedings to be taken. The Committee may seek advice from a qualified lawyer
6.3 The student may attend the disciplinary hearing, and may be accompanied by an adviser, friend, or other representative. If a student is accompanied and opt to have their adviser, friend or representative speak on their behalf, should it become necessary to ensure good order in the hearing, the Committee may stipulate that the student may speak only when called upon to give evidence by their representative. Legal representation is not permitted.
6.4 The Committee will rely only on evidence presented at the hearing. The deliberations and decisions of anyone previously considering the matter shall be irrelevant for the Committee's purposes.
6.5 The Committee will find a student guilty of misconduct only if, on the evidence before it, it is satisfied of the student's guilt. If the members of the Committee cannot agree, the verdict of the Committee will be that of the majority of its members. Any decision of the Committee shall be based on the balance of probabilities.
6.6 Subject to the provisions of these regulations, the order of proceedings shall be at the discretion of the Committee. Members of the Committee may ask questions of any witness called before it. The Committee may ask for additional enquiries to be undertaken, and may call for additional witnesses to attend.
6.7 If two or more students are involved in related misconduct, the Committee may at its discretion deal with their cases together.
6.8 The evidence presented at the hearing will normally be oral evidence, given by witnesses appearing in person. The Committee may accept a witness's written statement in evidence where it agrees that the witness need not attend, or where it is impracticable for the witness to attend, or where in the opinion of the Committee it is for some other reason in the interests of justice to do so.
6.9 The allegation or allegations will be notified to the student at least one week before the hearing.
6.10 The University Secretary may call for written witness statements in support of the allegation in advance of the hearing. If such statements are obtained, members of the Committee will be entitled to see them in advance of the hearing and copies will be made available to the student at least one week before the allegation is heard.
6.11 The Committee may impose time limits on oral addresses and submissions.
6.12 The Committee will refuse to admit evidence that is in its opinion irrelevant to the issues raised.
6.13 The Committee shall have power to adjourn a hearing to another date, as it thinks fit
6.14 If the Committee finds that there is no case for the student to answer, it must dismiss the allegation.
6.15 At the termination of the proceedings, the Convener of the Disciplinary Committee will write a short report. In the event of a finding of guilt, the report will set out the misconduct alleged, a brief summary of evidence received, the grounds for the finding of guilt, the penalty imposed, and the factors taken into account in deciding the penalty. A copy of the report will be sent to the student and to the Principal. Where the misconduct relates to examinations or other assessed work the report may contain recommendations under section 7 of these regulations, and a copy of the report will also be sent to the appropriate Board of Examiners.
6.16 The Convener of the Committee, on the advice of the University Secretary, has the power to suspend the activity of the Disciplinary Committee at any time and to stop the proceedings against the student, if they believe it appropriate to do so.
7.1 If a student is found guilty of an allegation of misconduct, penalties may be imposed by the Dean in the case of matters dealt with summarily, or by the Disciplinary Committee in other cases. The penalties are set out below. A student may not be expelled following an allegation heard under the summary procedure. The student or their representative shall be entitled to make representations in mitigation before the penalty is decided.
7.2 When determining penalties, consideration will be given to the seriousness of the misconduct, the circumstances of the misconduct, and the means and general personal circumstances of the student.
7.3 A student found guilty of misconduct may be:
a) Absolutely discharged, which means that although the student may be technically guilty of the misconduct alleged, no blame should be attached to their actions
c) Cautioned, which means that no penalty is imposed, but if the student is found guilty of misconduct on a subsequent occasion in the following twelve months, or some other specified period, they will then be dealt with for both offences
d) Conditionally discharged, which means that no penalty is imposed, subject to the student fulfilling certain stipulated conditions including future good behaviour over the following twelve months or some other specified period. If the conditions are not met, a penalty may be imposed following a further hearing
e) Required to pay a fine or a reasonable sum by way of compensation for identified and quantified loss.
f) Required to perform unpaid services for the University community to a maximum of 40 hours
g) Excluded from the University for a fixed period of time, up to a maximum of twelve months. A student who is excluded from the University has restricted rights to enter University premises and to participate in University activities. The terms of the exclusion will be notified to the student in writing. An order of exclusion may include a requirement that the student shall have no contact with a named person or persons
h) Suspended from the University for a fixed period of time, up to a maximum of twelve months. A student who is suspended is prohibited from entering University premises, and from participating in University activities. Suspension may be subject to qualification, such as permission to take an examination. The terms of the suspension will be notified to the student in writing. An order of suspension may include a requirement that the student shall have no contact with a named person or persons
i) Expelled from the University, which means that the student ceases to be a member of the University, and loses all rights and privileges of membership.
7.4 Where misconduct relates to examinations or other assessed work, a recommendation may be made to the appropriate Board of Examiners that it should:
a) Award the student lower marks than those which they would otherwise have been awarded, or award no marks, for the examination or assessed work in which the student committed the offence
b) Award the student lower marks than those which they would otherwise have been awarded, or award no marks, for the unit of which the examination or assessed work was part
c) Award the student a lower class of degree or other academic award than that which they would otherwise have been awarded.
d) Exclude the student from the award of a degree or other academic award. This may be either permanent or for a stated period, and may be absolute or subject to compliance with stipulated requirements.
7.5 Where an allegation of misconduct is upheld against a student on a health care programme that requires professional registration, that student may be referred to a Fitness to Practise Panel. The University Secretary will consult with the Dean of School and advise accordingly.
8 Mental illness
If there is medical evidence that the student is suffering from mental illness or mental instability, those dealing with the case may suspend or terminate the proceedings, if it is felt appropriate to do so. It may be made a condition of suspension or termination of the proceedings that the student seeks medical treatment.
9.1 A student may appeal against a finding of guilt. The appeal must be made to the University Secretary within twenty-eight days of the conclusion of the proceedings, which includes the imposition of a penalty. The student must set out in writing the grounds on which the appeal is based.
9.2 There will be no entitlement to a rehearing of the case, which will be allowed only in exceptional circumstances.
9.3 The appeal will be submitted to the Principal, who will judge whether or not a prima facie case exists on the basis that:
- there has been demonstrably an irregularity in the disciplinary procedure;
- evidence has become available that it was not reasonable to present during the original hearing.
9.4 In the event that a re-hearing is judged appropriate by the Principal, a panel will be convened.
9.5 An appeals committee will be constituted as described in Section 6.1 above. The Legal Adviser will act as technical adviser to the Panel and the University Secretary will nominate a clerk to the committee. The student may be accompanied by a friend or representative at this meeting.
9.6 The committee hearing the appeal may overturn the finding of guilt where they consider it just to do so. In particular, a finding may be overturned in the light of new evidence; or where it is considered that the original hearing was not conducted fairly; or where the finding of guilt was unreasonable in the light of the findings of fact. The student may present the appeal in person or in writing as they choose, and may be accompanied by an adviser, friend or other representative.
9.7 A student may appeal against a penalty imposed following a finding of guilt. The appeal must be made to the University Secretary within twenty-eight days of the conclusion of the proceedings. The student must set out in writing the grounds on which the appeal is based.
9.8 The committee hearing an appeal against penalty may impose a lesser or greater penalty, having considered whether the original penalty imposed was fair and reasonable in the light of all the circumstances of the case, and the student's means and general personal circumstances.
10 Independent review
10.1 The University’s internal procedures having been exhausted, a student may seek review of their complaint by an independent person, the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman [SPSO].
10.2 The Ombudsman is independent and their staff will advise whether or not the complaint is one that they can investigate. Normally the student will have to tell the Ombudsman about their complaint within 12 months of first knowing about the problem about which they are complaining, although the Ombudsman may look at complaints outside this limit, if they think there is good reason to do so.
10.3 There are some restrictions on what the Ombudsman can investigate. For example, they cannot consider the subject matter of complaints about personnel matters or matters of academic judgement. However, they may be able to investigate the manner in which the complaint was handled. If the complaint is appropriate to her office and is investigated, theOmbudsman’s staff will send details of how this will be done.
10.4 The complaint should be submitted in writing to the Ombudsman, and should include any relevant documents including correspondence with the University and the University’s response to the complaint. This can be sent to the Ombudsman without cost at the freepost address given below. A student may discuss the complaint with an Investigator at the SPSO before deciding to submit.
10.5 The Scottish Public Services Ombudsman has an online complaint form accessible through the website although papers in support of the complaint would still have to be supplied to the Ombudsman by post or other means. The Scottish Public Services Ombudsman can also supply paper complaint forms direct to complainants.
10.6 Further information may be accessed through the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman website or by calling their office for advice. Contact details are:
Freepost SPSO, SPSO, Bridgeside House, 99 McDonald Road, Edinburgh EH7 4NS
Opening hours: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday 9am–5pm, Tuesday 10am–5pm SPSO freephone 0800 377 7330
Research Ethics Guidelines, Procedures and Regulations
Ethical Principles to guide research involving human participants
Ethics permeates all research, so only by getting it right can research excellence be achieved. It is essential for researchers to gain an understanding of ethical principles, because in practice ethical issues are often complex, relative to the particular research project, relative to the competence of the research team and require the reasonable anticipation of likely future risks and problems. The core of ethical research is the ethical sensitivity of the research team, which is an art based on principles rather than a rule-governed process, or a set of tick box barriers to be overcome before the real work can begin.
Ethical research requires a balance to be struck between minimising probable harm and advancing academic knowledge, being appropriate in terms of human dignity, and in social and cultural impact. Researchers should use the basic ethical principles outlined here to guide their decisions about how to conduct research, how to treat their research participants and how to handle the data that they gather about them. For much research the relevant decisions are straightforward or have sound precedents.
Issues such as protection of identity, privacy, obtaining informed consent, communicating appropriately with participants, ensuring participant autonomy and freedom of choice, and ensuring that no harm comes to participants or researchers are among the many ethical issues that people planning research must have in their minds. Additionally, researchers have a moral responsibility to tell the truth and to preserve participant confidentiality.
However, in some cases deciding on an acceptable ethical approach within a study may be more difficult. Top quality research is by definition innovative and may pose new ethical challenges. For these reasons, although the competence of the research team is critical (imagine surgery by the untrained), neither the track record of the team, nor the prestige of the institution waives the need for an adequate ethical review process.
The ethics review process at QMU aims to be collaborative and constructive. In considering ethical issues from the conceptual stage of a proposal it is intended to enhance the quality of research and increases the chances of productive funding and publication outcomes. In cases where ethical approval is not granted at the first stage, the aim is that discussion with members of the School or University Ethics Panel is used to achieve an acceptable approach that should also facilitate positive research outcomes for students and staff.
2. The Main Ethical Principles
There are four ‘clusters’ of moral principles which provide a framework for making decisions about the ethical aspects of a study (Beauchamp and Childress, 2001).
- Respect for people’s autonomy
- Non-maleficence; do no harm
- Beneficence; do good
It is hard at the ethical approval stage for research to guarantee doing good and being just, but it is critical for it to avoid disrespecting people’s autonomy or harming them.
2.1 Respect for Autonomy
Participants in research should be treated with appropriate dignity. A rule of thumb test is for researchers to ask whether they would consider it appropriate for a beloved family member to participate in the research. Historical cases abound of research participants being treated in undignified, even brutal, ways that are clearly unethical. Nonetheless, sometimes research requires intrusive, invasive, tedious or unpleasant treatment of participants. Participating can be boring, stressful, challenging, upsetting or even painful. Such ‘invasive’ research protocols need to be justified by the potential benefits of the research. It is essential to consider also the social impact of the research results, independently of the scientific impact. Cases have occurred where because of the rarity or uniqueness of participants, their anonymity has easily been violated and social stigma and other harm has resulted.
2.1.2 Informed Consent
Respect for autonomy also requires ensuring that research participants have truly consented to participate in the research, of their own free will, without coercion or manipulation of any kind and fully informed of the risks, benefits and consequences of their participation. This is not simply about getting the required signature on the consent form.
All research involving human beings requires informed consent. This applies even to tissue samples or data acquired about those people for other purposes.
To ensure genuine informed consent, it is essential that researchers consider the extent to which the people being recruited are capable of fully and freely giving their informed consent. There are two common restrictions on this, which often need to be dealt with. First, when the people to be recruited are, in some sense, vulnerable or limited in their capacity to consent in an autonomous fashion. Researchers who are working with vulnerable people such as children, prisoners, those with some form of mental illness or incapacity or the very sick or old will need to pay particular attention to the way in which they gain informed consent. The process of gaining informed consent from young people and children is complex and must be informed by current legislation (BMA, 2000).
Second, when the demand characteristics of the social situation where the research occurs implicitly or explicitly coerces people into participating in the research. Examples include potential participants believing that the research will benefit them, believing that their therapy or treatment will suffer if they do not participate, believing that significant others, whether friends, family or professionals, will think badly of them, and believing that they will, in some sense, ‘stand out’ or be incriminated by refusal. For example, does refusal imply that they have something to hide?
A third, rarer, limitation is when research offers money or other benefits that are so large as to easily persuade people to participate for the benefits alone. This is generally considered to exclude modest payments to cover the costs of travel and inconvenience. Pay and other benefits offered should be modest in proportion to the effort required to participate.
2.1.3 Who Should Consent?
Only persons able to freely understand, question and refuse without fear of sanction or reprisal can give informed consent. For research involving participants who may lack the capacity for understanding and questioning, such as children, people with mental or intellectual difficulties, or people severely ill or heavily medicated, consent should be obtained from a parent, carer or other person serving in a responsible capacity AND from the participant themselves, to the extent that they are capable of understanding and offering consent. Ingenuity needs to be exercised in providing satisfactory consent procedures in such cases. Consent from the parent or carer alone is rarely adequate.
The freedom to refuse to participate in research is potentially threatened where there is a power imbalance between the prospective participant and the researcher, along with their perceived allies. For example, students may believe that refusing to participate in staff research will not count well for them when they are being educationally assessed. This can occur even if the researcher is not directly one of the student’s teachers. The two key methods of ensuring true refusal are:
- to ensure whenever possible that the research team is completely independent of anybody in a position of power over the potential participants, and
- that the procedures to ensure independence are explicit during the informed consent process. For example, should the medical consultant be one of the research team (as is often the case), it should be clear that they will have no knowledge of whether an individual patient has participated or not. Where this is impossible, other means of enabling true refusal should be actively written into the research protocol.
It is also important to remember that research on groups, societies, organisations, institutions and their members also ‘involves human beings’ who ought to consent to it occurring. This does not necessarily mean obtaining consent from everybody, but appropriate procedures should be in place for collective consent, treating the organisation as the ‘participant’.
2.1.4 The Process of Informed Consent
All international declarations stipulate that, prior to consent, each participant in a research project should be clearly informed of its goals, its possible adverse events, and the possibility to refuse to enter or to retract at any time with no consequences. How to inform is a critical part of the process. Participants are rarely able to recall what they have agreed upon when signing an informed consent form. An example Information Sheet and Consent Form can be found in Appendix 2.
The following strategies may help to safeguard informed consent:
- Close attention to the language and readability of written material, which includes translation procedures for non-native language speakers.
- Honest explanation of the possible risks and benefits of participation. Particular caution should be exercised to avoid ‘lies of omission’; if the research procedure is boring, unpleasant or simply lengthy, it is best to make this clear.
- The opportunity for potential participants to discuss the project and ask questions with somebody sympathetic who understands the research: Ideally one of the research team.
- Use of alternative media, such as visual information.
- In complex or hazardous cases, the informed consent procedure should involve a detailed interview and discussion, rather than the mere signing of paperwork.
2.1.5 The Informed Consent Form
This usually includes an actual form to be signed, along with an information sheet and as much additional material as is appropriate. This entire pack constitutes ‘the consent form’.
Two general questions should be answered on the information sheet:
- What are the likely benefits of the research for science, for society and for the research participants? This should enable potential participants to make an informed choice to participate, even if there are risks. Researchers should avoid the temptation to exaggerate about benefits.
- How will participants and the data about them be protected? This should include explanation of how confidentiality will be ensured and what data will be retained where, in what format.
Other information that should be included in the information sheet includes:
- A clear explanation of who is involved in the research, what their roles are, and who to contact for further information or in case of concern.
- A clear and appropriately brief description of the research explaining its purposes, how long participation will take, what will happen and which, if any, parts of the research involve new or experimental procedures.
- An explanation of any screening procedures used to select participants.
- An accurate description of any reasonably foreseeable risks or discomforts. Notably, much research interviewing people poses some risk of participant distress, should the topics covered include ones sensitive to individual people.
- A modest description of any benefits that may reasonably be expected as a result of
- participating, to the participants and to others.
- In research involving more than minimal risk, an explanation of insurance and compensation procedures, should harm occur.
- An explanation of the procedures that will be followed should the research discover important information about the participant. Two common dilemmas are:
- When research incidentally discovers signs of disease or abnormality. In most cases the appropriate procedure is to notify the participant and refer to appropriate health care professionals. In some cases it is appropriate for the participant to choose to not be informed, or be informed, as part of the consent procedure. Genetic screening research is one example.
- When research incidentally discovers a significant risk of harm to the participant by others, or by the participant to others. With children under 16, researchers are legally obliged to disclose such risks to appropriate people and this is a limit on confidentiality.
In research involving interventions or treatments, a clear explanation of alternative approaches that participants might use instead.
An explanation of procedures used to preserve confidentiality and anonymity (see 2.4.1).
A statement explaining that participation is entirely voluntary and that participants may withdraw at any time, for any reason, without explanation or obligation to the research team and without repercussions elsewhere.
2.2 Non-Maleficence; Do no harm
Researchers must not harm their study participants. But, even simple time-wasting can be harmful, so it is the research team’s duty to weigh up the potential for harm against the benefits of the study and to come to a justifiable conclusion. It is also the team’s duty to ensure that research which carries a risk of harm should only be conducted by competent research teams. Many potential ethical issues can be resolved by ensuring that the research team has sufficient competence to manage problems appropriately. For example, a badly designed survey by an undergraduate may waste participants’ time, where a well-designed one would not.
The normal model for a research team is that there are one or more researchers who directly interact with participants and one or more supervisors who oversee. Part of the ethics review process is to establish that the research team is competent to (a) minimise harm, (b) conduct research that is like to be of sufficient quality to be worth any risks of harm, which at the mildest level includes wasting participants’ time and effort, and (c) manage serious harm should it arise, even if it is very unlikely. Competence is a function of relevant skills, experience, training to be achieved during the research process and the devotion of appropriate time and effort to the research project. A good research team has an appropriate mix of competencies. When researchers are less competent, then supervisors need to be more competent and supervise more closely. Therefore, particular care should be exercised in decisions about what types of research can be conducted by undergraduates. Staff teaching loads can sometimes make close supervision difficult, so unless a student has special demonstrable competencies caution should be exercised in developing undergraduate research that raises major ethical issues. Conversely, a team with specialist expertise can conduct research that might be unethical conducted by a team without such competencies. Where appropriate, it is important to report on the team’s competence in the ethics application. A track record of publications in the area is not always sufficient. There are also specialised competencies that need to be considered. For instance, researchers working with young people or other vulnerable groups will need to be police checked according to current Disclosure Scotland guidelines (www.disclosurescotland.co.uk) Researchers who intend to work with children should consider this when planning the timescale of their research.
2.2.2 Risk Assessment and Risk Management
In order to address the issue of ‘risk of harm’, researchers must demonstrate that they have exercised a standard of due care. As well as being competent, this involves identifying the likely risks, assessing the probability that they will occur, evaluating the risk to determine its acceptability in relation to the objectives of the research and finally managing the risks which involves the steps that can be taken to minimise them (Beauchamp and Childress, 2001:199).
Common examples of managing risk include:
- Screening procedures that identify participants more likely to come to harm through the research.
- Competence to work with participants who become distressed, including being able to listen and communicate appropriately about the distress and being able to refer to further counselling should this be required
- Sufficient knowledge to provide advice about services or help as a result of discussing needs which are not being met
- Sufficient knowledge to discuss the benefits of appropriate interventions
- Adequate post-research debriefing, including offering explanations of any necessary deception or withholding of information.
- Appropriate research training on the proposed research techniques: For example, appropriate specialist interview skills; specific experimental methods; specialist biological sampling.
- Appropriate risk assessment for the conduct of the research, including any physical or biological risks faced by researchers and participants.
- Adequate supervisory procedures to address researchers’ difficult thoughts and feelings about the research and the participants, to reduce harm to researchers.
2.3 Beneficence: Do good
Will the research truly benefit the individual participants, or those like them? Will the research truly benefit some wider or more abstract entity such as science, knowledge, or society? Naturally, researchers generally hope the answer to at least some of these questions is ‘yes’. However, in justifying research it is important to reflect upon and respect conflicting notions of benefit. It is unethical to assume that benefit to participants, to science, or to society are an absolute good. Contemporary disagreements abound: For example, over animal rights, over the age at which the foetus becomes a person, or the appropriate balance between eroding individual liberties and promoting safety.
When research can genuinely indicate likely beneficence, then this is important ethically and may justify research that would otherwise seem excessively hazardous to participants.
However, this situation is relatively rare. Usually, ethical research involving human participants is about minimising harm, rather than increasing likely benefits.
It is important to treat people equally and fairly and ensure that they are accorded their full rights. In research practice, much of this occurs under issues of truly informed consent (see 2.4.2). It is also worth mentioning the need to consider issues of participant selection criteria. There are often legitimate reasons for restricting a study to a specific gender, or age group, or excluding non-native speakers of the predominant language, or excluding specific ethnicities. However, sometimes these choices are made mainly for convenience, which may be ethically debatable and can require justification. There are many instances where convenient sampling criteria have resulted in a consequent lack of knowledge of whether findings apply to excluded groups. Any inclusion or exclusion criteria to be employed in the research should be clearly outlined and justified in the ethical approval application. There are also issues, now widely recognised by research councils and the NHS, of the extent to which research participants are entitled to help form the research agenda. Participant involvement in research design is good practice.
As well as being a basic rule of research ethics, confidentiality is also the subject of considerable literature and legislation including the Data Protection Act 2018. It is important to keep confidentiality distinct from anonymity.
Anonymity involves the protection of the participant so that even the research team cannot link them to the information provided. Nowadays, this not only requires the avoidance of names, but also other identifier information such as postcodes, or NHS CHI numbers. Moreover, particularly in small-scale more qualitative studies, some participants may be identifiable solely by the data they provide. Consequently, true anonymity from start to finish is relatively rare in research and should not be offered unless it is really provided.
Confidentiality in contrast involves the prevention of disclosure of identity other than to authorised people, for authorised purposes. For example in the NHS, patient records are confidential, but may be accessed by any NHS staff for appropriate purposes; but not for inappropriate ones. Using records for malicious gossip would be a serious breach of confidentiality.
In most research projects confidentiality is a process, rather than a condition. It is important to make clear to participants what confidentiality involves and what measures will be in place to protect participants from unwanted violations of confidentiality.
If the data are retained for further research researchers need to ensure that the informed consent form explains and justifies this. Applicants should describe the measures taken to encode or anonymise stored data. Generally, data sets should be anonymised as soon as it is reasonable to do so, even if this requires the loss of potentially useful information. Even where only anonymised data are used, adequate security for storage and handling of such data must be demonstrated. This includes avoiding the unnecessary duplication of electronic data sets, which increases the chances of their being misused.
2.4.2. Data Storage
The data protection act and confidentiality requirements (see above) pose a dilemma for data storage, which is another ethical requirement of research. If research is not going to be published in the public domain, but was conducted primarily for educational purposes, then raw data should be destroyed once the research work has been educationally assessed. Any data retained electronically should have all personal identifying information removed. QMU has electronic (eResearch, QMU Research Repository) and physical data repositories and has developed a thesis repository. Please contact Information Services for further details. For research that may be published in the public domain whether this is student or staff work, raw research data needs to be stored for a reasonable period of time so that it can be re-accessed and checked should issues or queries arise (for example from conflicting findings by other research teams). The QMU Retention Policy is that raw data, including interview tapes, completed questionnaires, and other material, generally should be retained for five years after the research programme is completed, although this can vary depending on funder and other requirements. Additionally, signed consent forms should be kept separately from the data for 12 months on campus and thereafter in remote secure storage for the duration of the retention of the physical data. It is the responsibility of the principal researcher/supervisor to comply with current data protection legislation and store data securely for the appropriate length of time and destroy the data at the end of this period. Storage will normally be in the Subject Area (locked secure storage for physical data) or in your QMU password protected cloud/online drives for electronic data).
2.5. Academic freedom and restrictions on publication
QMU policy is opposed to research that has restrictions placed on the publication of findings (see Appendix 4). These restrictions are usually placed by some funders, including some NHS, government and industry sources. Sometimes there are legitimate ethical reasons for restricting publication, for example to protect commercial interests. However, is becoming more common for funders to stipulate that they own the intellectual rights to research they have funded, simply to control the information and, potentially prevent or manage its release into the public domain. This is contrary to the spirit of academic inquiry and such research is arguably unethical because it colludes in the suppression of information. Research at QMU should not be contracted with strong clauses restricting publication. This should have been negotiated during the funding application process, but the Ethics Panel reserves the right to challenge the ethical probity of research where publication of findings has been restricted by the funding contract.
Section 2 - Procedures for Ethical Approval
1. SUBMISSION OF AN APPLICATION FOR ETHICAL APPROVAL
Without recorded ethics approval, under no circumstances can a research project proceed at QMU. The process of applying for ethical approval at QMU is described in this section, and is outlined in the flowchart in Appendix 1. The research team are responsible for applying for approval in a timely manner.
Research should not collect any data from participants, or use other data that is not in the public domain until Ethical Approval has been granted. So doing potentially constitutes serious research misconduct. In some circumstances, the data collected may be inadmissible. In serious cases students or staff involved may be subject to disciplinary procedures. If anyone becomes aware that research data is being collected or used without Ethical Approval, then they should immediately notify their Head of Division/Research Centre and the Research Ethics Panel. At minimum, staff and students will be required to suspend data collection/use immediately until Ethical Approval is obtained. The Research Ethics Panel cannot guarantee that approval will be granted retrospectively for data already collected.
The first step in gaining ethical approval is to complete an ‘Application for Ethical Approval for a Research Project’. This form is available on QMU’s website.
Most questions on the form are self-explanatory. Section 1 of this document – Ethical Principles to guide research – should be read before the Application for Ethical Approval is completed.
It is the researcher’s responsibility to ensure that the Application for Ethical Approval form is fully completed, legible and literate, and has any supplementary material such as consent forms or information sheets attached as appropriate. Any form that deviates markedly from this standard will be returned to the applicant by the Divisional Ethics Committee, without review.
2.THE ROLE OF THE DIVISIONAL RESEARCH ETHICS COMMITTEE
The completed application with information sheet and consent form included as appropriate, should be submitted to the relevant Divisional Research Ethics Committee (DivREC) for consideration. The DivREC will review the application and supplementary material, and will make a decision from four possible alternatives. External applicants wishing to conduct research using staff or students at QMU should apply directly to the University Research Ethics Panel, providing a copy of the approved ethics application obtained from their own organisation. If ethical approval has not been granted by their own organisation then they should complete the QMU standard form and submit it to the Secretary of the Research Ethics Panel.
2.1 If the application has been incorrectly completed, relevant information omitted or necessary supplementary material not included, the DivREC should tick ‘We refer this application back to the applicant because...’ The reason(s) for referring the form back should be given, and the form signed and returned to the applicant. No record of the application need be kept by the DivREC in this case.
2.2 If the application has been completed correctly and all relevant information included, there are three remaining alternatives, which should be considered in the order they are listed. The first, ‘We refer this application to the Research Ethics Panel’, should be chosen if any of the following circumstances apply:
- where any non-routine harm, physical or psychological discomfort, or physical, biological or psychological risk is involved;
- where participants are used who are under 16 or over 65 years of age or whose ability to give voluntary consent is limited, including cognitively impaired persons, prisoners, persons with a chronic physical or mental condition, or those who live in or are connected to an institutional environment;
- where any invasive technique is involved, DNA testing, or collection of bodily fluids or tissue;
- where a degree or duration of exercise or physical exertion is involved that might be painful, stressful or hazardous to some participants;
- where manipulation of cognitive or affective human responses are involved which could cause stress or anxiety;
- where drugs, including liquid and food additives or other substances, are administered for research purposes;
- where deception of participants is used of a nature which might cause distress or which might reasonably affect their willingness to participate in the research;
- where highly personal, intimate or other private or confidential information is sought;
- where payment is made to participants other than to cover expenses or time involved.
- Where restriction is intended on the publication of results (see Appendix 4)
- Where the research involves NHS employees only (this type of research would require QMU research ethics approval as well as NHS Research and Development approval).
- Where the research involves a ‘sensitive’ research topic. Researchers, in particular undergraduate students, should carefully consider the implications of conducting research in sensitive topic areas which may cause emotional distress to participants or the researcher themselves, for example:
- domestic abuse
- rape or sexual assault
- psychological disorders e.g. Self-harm, eating disorders
- Illegal or unethical activities e.g., crime, drug abuse
- acute or terminal illness
Please note this list is not exhaustive.
Unless there are established research procedures at QM to deal with a specific sensitive topic that have previously been agreed to be minor invasive, research involving sensitive topics should be referred to the REP.
2.3 The second option, ‘We find this application acceptable and an application for ethical approval should now be submitted to a relevant external committee’, should be chosen if any of the following apply:
- The proposed research includes use of NHS patients or employees as subjects, NHS data, or it will be carried out (wholly or partly) on NHS premises.
- The applicant has indicated that ethical approval from another body will be required.
- The DivREC knows that ethical approval from another body will be required.
Where a student is submitting to an external committee, the application should be seen and checked by the DivREC before it is submitted externally.
2.5 In all three cases, once signed by the DivREC, the application form must be submitted to the Secretary to the Research Ethics Panel to be logged on a centrally-maintained record of applications. Applications referred to the Research Ethics Panel must be received before the submission deadline in order to be considered at the next review period. Submission deadlines will be published by the Secretary to the Panel at the start of the academic year, and reminders will be circulated throughout the year.
3. THE ROLE OF THE RESEARCH ETHICS PANEL
The Research Ethics Panel reviews applications on a monthly basis. The application submission deadline will be the second Friday of each month and the dates will be published online before the start of each academic year. The Panel’s membership and remit can be found in Appendix 3. External applicants wishing to conduct research using staff or students at QMU should apply directly to the University Research Ethics Panel (see 2. above).
3.1 Applications for ethical approval referred to the Panel by a DivREC are reviewed by up to three members of the Panel and a decision regarding approval is reached. The members’ comments are submitted to the Secretary who will communicate the Panel’s decision to the applicant in writing approximately two working days after the decision is reached.
3.2 There are three possible options available to the Panel when considering an application. The first, ‘The Panel agrees that full ethical approval could be granted for the research’, will be chosen when the Panel are satisfied that the researcher has taken all necessary steps to ensure that the research will be conducted ethically, and that any potential risk to applicants has been considered and minimised.
3.3 The second option is ‘The Panel agrees that amendments to the application are required before ethical approval can be granted for the research’. This will be chosen when the Panel supports the proposed research in principle, but agree that amendments to the application must be made before ethical approval can be granted. The amendments required by the Panel will be communicated to the applicant in writing by the Secretary. The amended application should be submitted to the Secretary in the first instance. It will then be reviewed by up to three members of the Panel and the Convener. If satisfied that the required amendments have been appropriately completed, ethical approval may be granted by Convener’s Action
3.4 The third option available to the Panel is ‘The Panel invites the applicant to resubmit a revised application to its next meeting’. This option will be chosen when the Panel agrees that the proposed research involves significant ethical issues that have not been adequately addressed by the applicant in the application for ethical approval. The issues raised by the Panel when considering the application will be notified to the applicant in writing by the Secretary, along with the submission deadline and date of the next meeting. The revised application should be submitted to the Secretary for review by the Panel members that reviewed the original application. If the applicant chooses to resubmit on another topic, an application should be submitted to the DivREC in the first instance and should be treated as a new application.
3.5 Where applicants require an urgent decision on their application, a special request for fast track approval should be lodged with the Secretary. Fast track involves the review process described above, but reviewers’ comments are returned directly to the Convener for decision. The Panel reserves the right to delay fast tracked applications to the next application cycle, should the Convener deem this necessary.
3.6 Please note that fast tracking should only be requested in exceptional circumstances. Researchers should allow sufficient time in the planning of their research for completing the ethical approval process, including, if necessary, revisions to the application or resubmission to the Panel.
4. ATTENDANCE OF THE APPLICANT AT A PANEL MEETING
If the application has been referred by the DivREC to the Research Ethics Panel, the applicant may be invited to attend a meeting of the Panel to answer further, verbal questions. The purpose of attendance would be to help Panel members gain a better understanding of the proposal. This could speed up the process of approval.
Staff applicants would normally attend the meeting on their own. Undergraduate and MSc students should be accompanied by the supervisor of the research project as named on the application form, or an alternate if the supervisor is not available. Professional doctorate candidates and PhD candidates have the option of attending alone or with their supervisor.
The Secretary of the Panel will inform applicants of the date of the relevant meeting and ask that this time is kept free. Applicants will be informed approximately three days in advance of the meeting whether attendance will be necessary.
5. CONTINUING RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE RESEARCHER
Any changes to the programme of research which are made following the granting of ethical approval and which would result in different information being given in any section of the Application for Ethical Approval form, should be notified to the Secretary to the Research Ethics Panel, who will advise on any action required. A report is also required should there be any adverse occurrences or any results that raise questions about the safety of the research. Notification should be submitted to the Panel on completion of the research.
6. DEFINING DIFFERENT RESEARCH PROCEDURES – NON-INVASIVE, MINOR INVASIVE AND MAJOR INVASIVE RESEARCH METHODS AND PROCEDURES
These distinctions originated in medical research, where the distinctions are relatively obvious in terms of physical harm or disturbance. Invasive procedures involve the possibility of major harm, even if there may also be major benefits. Minor invasive procedures pose a risk of some harm and non-invasive procedures are unlikely to be harmful at all. These distinctions can also be applied to research with human participants that is not physically invasive.
6.1 A non-invasive procedure in humans would be one where it was unlikely that anybody would find participating at all stressful, upsetting, disturbing or psychologically or socially harmful. Usually, this requires a short procedure, a topic not controversial, stigmatising or distressing, no deception or discomfort during the procedure and highly confidential data handling procedures. Truly non-invasive procedures require only the addressing of standard ethical issues, clear demonstration that they are non-invasive, and should generally be approved by the relevant DivREC.
6.2 A minor invasive procedure, in contrast, might be stressful, upsetting, disturbing, or psychologically or socially harmful, but probable harm would be brief and limited in nature relative to the participants’ lives. For example, some participants will find somewhat invasive any procedure that involves any overt or implied element of personal appraisal, because they have concerns about doing things properly or appropriately. On the other hand, someone suffering from a serious illness might find an interview about it only mildly invasive, compared to the invasion and upset already associated with their clinical care. To judge research non- invasive it is important to make a positive case that upset is highly unlikely and/or worth the benefits to participants and research. Minor invasive procedures additionally require the addressing of procedures to recognise and minimise upset should it occur and clear demonstration that the procedure is not major invasive. When the same or similar procedures have been used before at QMU, then these may be approved by the relevant DivREC. Minor invasive procedures commonly used in the subject area should be referred to the University Ethics Panel on first use at QMU and part of the application should document their common use in the subject beyond QMU.
6.3 Major invasive procedures are those where some participants are likely to find participation stressful, disturbing, or psychologically or socially harmful, and probable harm could be protracted or severe. That only a small minority of participants may respond in this manner does not render the procedure minor invasive. In addition to requirements for minor and non- invasive procedures, applications for ethical approval for major invasive techniques should explain how risks are to be minimised and how the research team is collectively competent to minimise and manage harm, should it occur. Major invasive procedures should be referred to the University Ethics Panel by the relevant DivREC.
A research procedure being major invasive is a function of the nature of the participants, the research topic, the research procedures themselves and the competence of the research team. Vulnerable participants, intimate, illegal, stigmatised or controversial research topics, protracted, demanding, physically stressful or tedious research procedures and a less competent team make it more likely that the procedure will be major invasive.
6.4 The Panel delegates responsibility for approving non-invasive and established minor invasive research procedures to the Schools. As discussed above, these criteria are relative to (a) the participants, (b) the researchers and (c) the research topic. Significant changes in any of these should be referred to the Research Ethics Panel in the first instance. For example, that some staff commonly use a technique does not justify its use by a student not supervised by any staff member experienced in the technique. Another example is that the invasiveness of questionnaires or interviews is heavily topic-dependent.
A reasonable principle is often that research procedures approved for vulnerable participants, less experienced researchers and more sensitive topics can often be conducted unproblematically with less vulnerable participants, more experienced researchers and less sensitive topics.
It is the responsibility of the relevant DivREC if applicable to keep an updated list of approved methods in that school or subject area and to provide the University Ethics Panel with this list at least once a year. This list will include relevant information about any restrictions on this approval in terms of researchers, participants or topics.
[flow chart ]
Research Ethics Panel Remit and Membership
To ensure that the research conducted in the University complies with appropriate ethical standards and to make recommendations to the Research Strategy as set out below.
The Panel will have delegated authority to:
a) determine the ethical propriety of such research projects as are referred to it;
b) provide advice to researchers and supervisors on the ethical propriety of their research;
c) review on a regular basis the University’s Guidelines on Ethics related to research;
Convener - Nominee of the Research Strategy Committee
Nominated - Three academic representatives nominated from the academic staff of each School, who are actively involved in research
Secretary - To be appointed by the University Secretary
This Section refers to all summative examinations that form part of a student’s assessment for an award or for determining progression. These regulations do not refer to class tests or other formative assessments.
2.0 RUBRIC OF EXAMINATION PAPERS
The rubric on the front sheet of each examination paper will provide, in standard format, the following details:
a) name of institution
b) home Division
c) Programme(s) using this examination paper
d) level at which assessed
e) module / subject title
f) module / subject code
g) examination title (if different from module / subject title)
h) academic session
i) date of examination
j) duration of examination (and indication of allocation of reading time)
k) instructions to candidates
l) clear instructions as to the allocation of questions per answer book
m) paper setter
3.0 CONDUCT OF EXAMINATIONS
3.1 Examinations are conducted according to the published diet of examinations timetable. The confirmed timetable will be published for each diet of examinations at least three weeks before the start of the diet and displayed on the University website.
3.2 An examination pack, containing the appropriate examination papers, script books and other materials, as well as a list of candidates eligible to take the examination, will be prepared by the Registry Examinations Officer, for collection by the Senior Invigilator thirty minutes before the start of the examination.
3.4 The responsibilities of candidates undertaking examinations offered by Queen Margaret University are detailed in Section 5 below
4.0 ARRANGEMENT OF EXAMINATIONS OUTWITH THE UNIVERSITY
4.1 Except in cases of extreme difficulty, students are required to be available for every diet of examinations, including retrieval examinations. The following procedure is applicable to all students and all diets of examination. Requests for special arrangement of examinations outwith the University should be considered only if exceptional circumstances apply. Senate has agreed that being an international student (broadly defined to include an EU citizen domiciled at distance from the UK) may be considered as an exceptional circumstance.
4.2 The procedure for special arrangement of examinations to be held outwith the University is as follows:
4.2.1 Any request for an examination outwith the University requires to have the written approval of both the Programme Leader and the Head of Division/Dean of School:
- Approved requests for examinations outwith the University should be forwarded in writing to the Registry Examinations Officer, who shall make all subsequent arrangements. The Registry Examinations Officer should normally be informed of any approved requests for special arrangements at the earliest opportunity and no less than six weeks before the relevant diet of examinations is due to take place.
- Students are asked to nominate a local centre willing to undertake the examination and to conform to the University’s examination procedures and regulations, but this has to be confirmed as suitable by the Registry Examinations Officer. In addition, the Registry Examinations Officer will act as the official contact point for arrangements with the local centre and with the student.
- Any examinations organised at a designated local centre should normally take place at the same date and time (GMT) as the same examination at the University. Where this is not possible, and there is a possibility of contact between students, Registry may require the relevant paper setter to set an alternative examination paper.
- The Registry Examinations Officer will notify the student of all finalised arrangements in writing at least ten days before the scheduled date of the examination(s) in question.
- There will be an administration charge made by the University (currently set at £75) which will normally be payable by the student. This is intended to cover the costs of the arrangements. Where Programme requirements (such as placements) necessitate such arrangements, this charge will be waived. In addition, the local centre may make a further charge to cover any incurred costs, for which the student may be liable.
4.3 Further advice regarding the arrangement of examinations outwith the University is available from the Registry Examinations Officer.
5.0 INSTRUCTIONS TO CANDIDATES FOR EXAMINATIONS
5.1.1 Candidates must ensure that they are aware of the published examinations timetable for both first and second diet examinations and their requirement to attend.
5.1.2 Candidates must notify any change of permanent address through the Student Portal. This is essential for mailing of assessment results (student academic transcript) and information about graduation.
5.1.3 Candidates must arrive at the examination venue at least 15 minutes before the published start time. The examination timetable (published on the Registry website) should be checked to confirm the location.
5.1.4 Candidates must complete and sign the signature sheet and/or an attendance slip, as directed by the Senior Invigilator.
5.1.5 A candidate who is unable to attend an examination because of illness, or another valid reason, must submit an extenuating circumstances form with relevant documentary evidence.
5.1.6 A candidate who requires provision of additional examination arrangements must inform their Programme Leader as soon as possible and normally not later than four weeks before the first examination.
5.1.7 Candidates are referred to the Programme Regulations for specific details relating to their Programme assessment procedures, and to the general Assessment Regulations.
5.2 LATE ADMISSION OF CANDIDATES
5.2.1 A candidate who arrives late will be admitted without question during the first half hour of an examination.
5.2.2 Admission after the first half hour may be allowed with the prior permission of the Senior Invigilator and the Registry Examinations Officer.
5.2.3 No extra time will normally be allowed to a candidate who arrives late for an examination session, unless extenuating circumstances are accepted by the Senior Invigilator and the Registry Examinations Officer.
5.3 CONDUCT IN THE EXAMINATION ROOM
5.3.1 Candidates must retain only authorised materials on their desks during each examination. All other belongings should be placed either at the front or the back of the room. The use of hand held personal technology, including smartwatches, personal organisers, electronic dictionaries and mobile phones is not permitted. All mobile telephones must be switched off prior to entrance into the examination room and retained in candidates’ bags at the front of the examination room. The use of programmable calculators and those with text, symbolic or graphic capabilities is not permitted unless their use is expressly authorised by the examiners, as stated on the front cover of the examination paper.
5.3.2 Candidates are advised that they should complete the front cover(s) of examination answer book(s) before the start of the examination. Candidates should ensure that they have completed and sealed the fold-down edge to maintain anonymity. You must also ensure that your name is not shown anywhere else on the examination answer book.
5.3.3 Candidates should ensure that they have been issued with the correct question paper and note the duration of the examination.
5.3.4 Once the examination has started, communication or any other irregular practice is not allowed between candidates.
5.3.5 For the duration of reading time (where allocated this will normally last 5 minutes), candidates should not commence writing in the answer books, but may be permitted to write on the question paper (unless they are required to answer on this paper) or on scrap paper. The invigilator will instruct candidates when to commence writing in the answer books.
5.3.6 Questions on the content or presentation of the examination paper may only be asked during the specified reading time. The answer to any question asked will be repeated to all candidates taking the examination.
5.3.7 If a candidate wishes to attract the attention of the invigilator at any time during the examination they should do so by raising their hand.
5.3.8 No candidate should leave the examination room during the first 30 minutes or the last 15 minutes of the examination, other than for personal reasons. Any candidate wishing to leave the examination room temporarily must be accompanied by the invigilator.
5.3.9 Candidates will be reminded of the time 30 minutes and 15 minutes before the end of the examination.
5.3.10 A candidate who becomes ill during an examination must inform an invigilator who should record the details on the invigilators report. Candidates should submit an extenuating circumstances form as soon as possible thereafter.
5.4 END OF THE EXAMINATION
5.4.1 Candidates must obey the Senior Invigilator’s instructions either to remain in their seats until answer books are collected or to leave books on desks.
5.4.2 All answer books and other relevant material to be submitted should be clearly marked with the candidate’s name.
5.4.3 It is the candidate’s responsibility to ensure that all relevant material for marking is submitted to the invigilator.
5.5 PROCEDURES IN THE EVENT OF NETWORK DISRUPTION
5.5.1 In the unlikely event of network disruption that affects an examination completed on a computer, the University will put in place alternative arrangements for the examination. The precise nature of these arrangements will be determined on a case by case basis. In all cases, the priority will be not to disadvantage students.
5.5.2 In the event of network disruption, the examination will be handwritten, where possible and appropriate. Students with Individual Learning Plans who would normally use a computer to take an examination will be given the option of handwriting the examination. They will also be given extra time to complete the examination. Should this not be appropriate, attempts will be made to reschedule the examination.
5.5.3 Should a network disruption coincide with an examination on the HUB, the examination will be rescheduled.
5.5.4 Students are expected to check the University’s Facebook page and Twitter feeds for updates in the event of network disruption. Should there be a need to identify an alternative room for an examination affected by network disruption, physical signage at reception will provide details of the location.
5.6 PROCEDURES IN THE EVENT OF AN EVACUATION DUE TO A FIRE ALARM ACTIVATION OR OTHER EMERGENCY
In the event of the fire alarms being activated and candidates for an exam being evacuated during an examination, the following action will be taken in line with QMU Fire Regulations:
5.6.1 Invigilators will act as temporary fire wardens responsible for the orderly evacuation of the examination room.
5.6.2 Without delaying the evacuation of the candidates unduly, the candidates will be:
a) instructed to stop writing;
b) informed that the examination has been suspended and that further instructions will be given on re-admittance to the examination room;
c) Informed that examination regulations still apply, and that candidates should not communicate with one another.
d) asked to check that their name is on at least one answer book;
e) instructed to evacuate the room, leaving question papers, answer books and personal belongings in the examination room
f) asked to proceed as a group to the nearest the assembly point.
5.6.3 The invigilator will be the last person to leave the examination room and will record the time of the fire alarm activation and evacuation of the examination room.
5.6.4 Invigilators will return to the examination room when authorised by the Security Wardens and will re-admit the candidates.
5.6.5 If the alarm is activated at a point up to two-thirds of the way into the published time provided for the examination, the examination will re-start, and the period the examination will be extended by the period of disruption.
5.6.6 If the alarm is activated at a point within the last third of the examination period, the examination will not be re-started. The examiners will take the extenuating circumstances into account in determining the performance of candidates.
5.6.7 The period of disruption is from the time the alarm sounds until candidates are re-seated in the examination room. Should the period of disruption extend beyond one hour, then the examination will be considered null and void, and rescheduled at a time to be notified by the Registry Examinations Officer.
5.6.8. On re-admittance to the examination venue, the Senior Invigilator will instruct candidates as to whether or not the examination will be re-started, or has been declared null and void [in line with paragraphs 9.6.6 and 9.6.7 above].
5.6.9 The Senior Invigilator will record the disruption on the Senior Invigilator Report so that the examiners can be advised to take this into account when assessing performance.
5.6.10 During the period of evacuation the Regulations for Examinations should be considered to be upheld until the examination is re-started or ended. Conversation between candidates may mean that the examination has to be rescheduled.
APPENDIX – STUDENT GUIDE TO ONLINE EXAMS
1. Online Exams: Key Information:
A summary of the online exams is provided below:
- An online exam is an exam you take remotely in your own space
- Ensure you have appropriate technology to sit your exam and have downloaded the most recent version of Google Chrome
- The exams will either be an MSWord Document which you submit to a Dropbox or a HUB/MCQ Test
- Although the exams are not invigilated, there are still strict requirements for proper academic conduct and you are expected to act honestly and with integrity, without any cheating in any form. You are also expected to revise and prepare as you would for a traditional exam
- The exam will be time-limited, but rather than having, for example, two or three hours as for a standard exam, some exams will have 24 hours between the exam paper being made available to you, and the deadline for submitting your completed exam script.
- You aren’t expected to spend 24 hours working on your answers, this time is provided to give you time to access the paper, write your answers, and submit your completed script. The time you are expected to spend writing your exam will be stated in the Dropbox instructions.
- Dates for exam are published in the Exam Timetable. Please check the timetable regularly as the listed dates are liable to change.
- Your exam paper will be released at the start time of the exam, as listed in the Exam Timetable.
2. Preparing for Online Exams
Revising for your exam
- Even though the online exams are not invigilated you are expected to revise prepare as you would a conventional exam.
- If your exam is ‘Open-Book’ you should prepare your notes, textbooks, handouts, website bookmarks etc. to make it easier to use them during the exam. Even with access to notes, you should still make sure that you know and understand the course content.
Location and setting
- You are responsible for creating your own exam conditions, choosing a set-up which suits you best. Plan in advance to make sure you have a quiet, comfortable place to take the exam. Tell your family/friends/flat mates that you have an exam so that you can take the exam uninterrupted. You might find it helpful to have your phone on silent, again so that you are not disturbed during the exam.
- You are welcome to sit the exam on campus, however the Examinations team will not be booking any rooms. If you do choose to sit your exam on campus we advise you to book a room via Room Booking, to ensure you have access to a desktop in a quiet space where you will not be disturbed.
- We strongly recommend you use Google Chrome for the online exams, as the HUB does not support other internet browsers such as Safari, Firefox and Internet Explorer. If you do choose to use an alternative browser, please bear in mind that some key functions may be disabled which could affect your exam.
- Please ensure you have the latest update of Google Chrome installed.
- In addition to Chrome, please ensure you have MSWord if your exam paper requires a typed response, or a scanning app if you are hand-writing your exam. You can download Microsoft for free here
During the Exam
Accessing your exam paper
- Your exam paper will be released on the module HUB site at the time stated in the Exam Timetable.
- In order to access the exam paper, you will have to read and accept the terms listed in the Statement of Academic honesty and Integrity. Only once you have reviewed these terms will your exam paper release.
24 hour or Timed Dropboxes
- There will be one dropbox per module component for all students including those with ILPS.
- Majority of the dropboxes will remain open for a 24 hour period, but will display the correct duration of the exam in the dropbox instructions. We expect you to complete your exam within the time-frame stated in the dropbox instructions. The 24 hour period is to accommodate individual circumstances, including caring commitments, technical problems, interruptions and time zones.
- Not all exams will have a 24 hour dropbox. Some exams will be conducted in the usual time limited format due to professional accreditation requirements or for pedagogical reasons. You can find details on the arrangements for your individual exam on the Module HUB site.
- Some exams will be completed using the HUB Test function and will not require you to download an exam paper and upload your answers to a dropbox. The HUB exams will be conducted in a time limited format.
- The paper setter will be available during the first 30 minutes of the exam. This is for the standard 15 minutes reading time and extra 15 minutes for any students with an ILP. The students can ask questions during this time only. Any questions from students should be emailed to examinations email address who will forward the email to the relevant staff member.
Due to the exams being conducted online, we have made some adjustments to the way ILPs will be supported during the exams.
- All students who require rest breaks will be given 50% Extra Time on top of the Extra Time already allocated in their ILP.
- All students who require a Scribe will be granted 50% Extra Time on top of the Extra Time already allocated in their ILP.
Please note that this extra time is included in the 24-hour Dropbox. This does not mean that you receive 24-hours plus extra time.
All Students who require a Reader should use the Text to Speech Function on Read&Write via one of the options below:
- Use Chrome Read and Write text Help Extension
- Please see below for training on how to use Chrome Read and Write text Help Extension
Access via QMU Remote Access
- How to connect via remote access (Windows & Mac users) - Select Method 2: Horizon Client Access
- Open QMU Desktop
- Select the Windows Icon
- Open Read&Write
- Please see below for training video on how to use Chrome Read and Write text Help Extension
- Download the Trial Version of Read&Write for 30 Days to your machine
- Open Read&Write
- Please see below for training video on how to use Read&Write Speech Function
- You can download Scottish Voices for use with Read& Write at the following link:
- call scotland-website
Please ensure that you have accessed and tested one of these options in advance of your exam.
5 Academic Misconduct
Expected conduct during online exams
- Unlike a traditional exams, an online exam is not invigilated. However, it is absolutely essential that you practice proper academic and professional conduct, and you act with integrity and honesty – qualities which we value highly at QMU, as do your future employers. You must be alone when you take the exam, complete it on your own and not consult with anyone once you have downloaded the exam paper.
- If the exam is taken under “open-book” conditions, you have access to my notes, course material, and the internet during the examination.
- As with any assessment, plagiarism – passing other people’s work off as your own – is strictly forbidden. The University’s standard procedures for dealing with academic misconduct still apply to online exams.
The exam response must be your own work, undertaken entirely on your own, this includes:
- Not receiving or giving any assistance to another student taking this examination.
- Not using any additional resources out with what has been approved by the paper setter.
- Not plagiarising someone else’s work and turning it in as your own.
- The 24 hour dropbox period is to allow time for you to prepare and upload your script. Do not wait until the last 30 minutes to submit your exam script, in case you experience any technical difficulties. You can submit at any point during the time period. Please note that you may only submit your exam script once – so please double check you have answered all the questions before submitting your paper.
- Exam support will only be available during working hours (9am – 5pm). If you decide to submit your exam paper out with these hours, please note that there will be no support should you experience any technical difficulties which could result in your paper not being submitted and marked.
- If you are submitting your exam after 5pm and experience technical difficulties, please email your completed exam script to examinations email address before the end of the exam time.Any late submissions will be reviewed and may not be accepted.
- When uploading your exam script to the dropbox please use your matriculation number only for the submission title.
After you have uploaded your exam
- If you have uploaded your exam script to a dropbox you should receive an email confirmation
- If you are submitting a HUB/MCQ exam you will not receive an email confirming your submission. Instead a notification will appear on your screen once you have submitted.
Should you experience any issues during your exam or while submitting please contact examinations email address as soon as possible. Please do not copy in the Module Coordinator or paper setter. Examinations will escalate the issue if required.
GUIDELINES FOR STUDENTS AND STAFF
This document provides guidance to students and staff on the definition and consideration of claims for ‘extenuating circumstances’, and on the procedures for submitting a claim under these guidelines.
This guidance should be read in conjunction with the QMU Academic Appeals Procedures and the section on ‘Assessment’ contained within the University Governance and Regulations Handbook. Copies of both are available at the University’s Regulations, Policies and Procedures web page.
1 INTRODUCTION – SOME IMPORTANT PRINCIPLES
The University’s procedures for the consideration of extenuating circumstances seek to ensure that all students are treated fairly, are not disadvantaged by circumstances beyond their control, and that the standards of the University’s awards are maintained.
It is accepted that, from time to time, circumstances beyond a student’s control may affect their ability to undertake assessment on time, or may affect her/his performance in assessment. It is also recognised that assessment periods can be stressful. However, students need to be able to plan and manage their time and their workload, to meet deadlines, to cope with a certain level of stress, and to manage their University studies alongside other responsibilities in life.
All students have a responsibility to manage their learning, revision and assessment activities throughout each semester or assessment period. It is essential that students plan carefully and manage workloads throughout this time, and do not leave too much coursework, learning, revision or similar activities to be undertaken late in the semester or assessment period. Similarly, when examinations are to be taken at the end of a semester or assessment period, students should conduct revision throughout the semester, and not limit it to the period shortly before sitting examinations.
It is also essential to recognise that illnesses and difficult life events do occur, and that it is a normal part of life to have to manage these and continue with work or study.
2 WHAT WOULD BE ACCEPTED AS ‘EXTENUATING CIRCUMSTANCES’?
Extenuating circumstances are defined as:
“circumstances beyond the student’s control which either prevent the student from submitting a piece of coursework or sitting an examination, or cause the student to perform less well in their coursework or examinations than they might otherwise have been expected to do (on the basis of other work).’
The term is used to describe those circumstances that cause exceptional interference with academic performance, and which are over and above the normal difficulties experienced in life.
In general, though not exclusively, extenuating circumstances will be of a medical or personal nature affecting the student for a period of time and/or during the assessment period. These are normally circumstances that have prevented the student from demonstrating, or acquiring, the skills, knowledge or competencies associated with a particular module(s). This would include circumstances preventing attendance at an examination, or adversely affecting performance at an examination, or preventing work from being submitted by the deadline set. Examples would include, but would not be limited to, illness, accident, or bereavement.
The University does not normally consider medical certificates for long-standing controlled conditions, or self-limiting illness, as evidence in support of extenuating circumstances affecting performance. Students in this category would normally have had the benefit of experience, medical knowledge or help to control the condition or illness, and would normally have registered with the Disabled Student Coordinator, the Disability Adviser, and be working to an agreed Learning Plan. It follows that such students should contact the Disability Adviser at an early point so that these circumstances can be recorded and appropriate arrangements put in place, in line with QMU’s disability policy statement. Further information may be found in the Student Handbook and on the Disability Service website.
The University normally disregards circumstances which students are expected to cope with as part of a properly managed workload, or as part of the normal issues and difficulties that arise as part of life. Circumstances which would not be acceptable are those where a student could reasonably have avoided the situation, or acted to limit the impact of the circumstances.
The following are examples of circumstances which would NOT fall within the University’s definition of "extenuating circumstances":
- completing coursework too late and missing deadlines because of computer; difficulties, or transport difficulties;
- general pressure of work;
- normal work commitments on behalf of an employer;
- having more than one examination on the same day or on consecutive days (unless the student was already suffering from illness or injury)
- missing an examination due to misreading the timetable or oversleeping;
- losing work not backed up on computer disk, or failure of a floppy disk/CD Rom;
- theft of home computer – students are expected to make a back up copy of all work on, which should be stored separately from the computer.
- failure to make alternative travel plans when disruptions were advised in advance;
- a short-term problem or illness which has occurred during the year and which is deemed not to have had an overall effect on the student’s performance; e.g common colds
- where extenuating circumstances have affected the student throughout their time at QMU [on the basis that it would be difficult to determine what her/his marks might have been like otherwise];
- Insufficient computers/printers to do the work [a claim submitted upon this basis would not be supported on the grounds that it indicated lack of advance planning].
Failure of IT would be accepted only in limited circumstances. There may be occasions when, due to unforeseen circumstances, the University’s own computer/IT equipment is unavailable for use. If this happens students may request confirmation from Information Services of this, including the time period and the date(s) of its unavailability. However, it would be reasonable to expect a student to submit the latest draft of their work from a few days prior to the deadline to support their claim.
3 WHEN SHOULD A CLAIM FOR EXTENUATING CIRCUMSTANCES BE SUBMITTED?
It is important that students report in advance any circumstances that they anticipate will affect their performance in assessment.
Students who know that they will be unable to meet the deadline for coursework, or attend an examination – due to circumstances beyond their control – should submit a completed Extenuating Circumstances Claim, with supporting evidence, via the QMU Portal in good time, so that the potential implications can be considered.
The claim for extenuating circumstances will be considered at this stage by the Programme Leader. If the circumstances are deemed valid and there is time to redeem the situation (e.g. through an extension to deadline for submission of coursework), the authority to agree this rests with the Programme Leader.
It follows therefore, that the only claims for extenuating circumstances which can normally be considered after the assessment date – either the date of the examination or the deadline date for submission of coursework – are those where it can be demonstrated that the student was affected by an accident or sudden illness, or other circumstances which occurred on or immediately before the day in question and which were entirely beyond the student’s control.
If it is not possible to redeem the situation [e.g. where the examination was part of a time-table diet of examinations], then the Programme Leader will advise the student concerned, and the claim for extenuating circumstances will be put forward to the relevant Extenuating Circumstances Panel [see section below].
It is the student’s responsibility to ensure that their claim is submitted to the Programme leader in sufficient time for the appropriate Extenuating Circumstances Panel, normally no later than one week before the meeting. The dates of the Extenuating Circumstances Panel together with details on how to submit a claim/evidence will be notified to students each semester via the Moderator email message system.
Failure to submit a form in advance of the Extenuating Circumstances Panel, without valid cause, will mean that the student may not subsequently appeal against their results on the grounds of extenuating circumstances. It is the student’s responsibility to explain fully the impact of extenuating circumstances on their work/performance. If this is not explained sufficiently, then the student may not subsequently appeal and ask the Board to consider additional information.
4. WHAT EVIDENCE SHOULD BE SUBMITTED WITH THE CLAIM
A claim for extenuating circumstances must be submitted via the QMU Portal.
The claim form should be accompanied by supporting evidence, in writing, from an appropriate authority. A claim is unlikely to be upheld without appropriate supporting evidence. Individual circumstances will dictate the nature of the evidence required to support a claim.
Examples of Evidence (this list is for illustrative purposes only and is not exhaustive)
Examples of the type of evidence that are likely to support an EC request
The EC application must state the student’s relationship to the deceased. It is unlikely that further professional evidence detailing the effects on the student will be required.
A serious short term illness (physical or mental) or accident
Letter from a health professional such as a GP, psychiatrist or mental health counsellor confirming the diagnosis and stating an opinion as to the nature and duration of any impact on the student; medical certificate; prescription; hospital admissions record; photographs of injuries (ideally identifying the student with the photograph). Evidence such as a photograph, prescription or admissions record, does not necessarily specify the negative affect on the student’s ability to complete their assessment(s), wherepossible and relevant, evidence from a suitable health professional detailing these effects should also be submitted.
Any evidence that only records the student’s self-reporting of the health problems will normally be deemed insufficient.
Unforeseen recent illness of dependents or close family members
Medical certificate or GP’s letter relating to the dependent/family member confirming the recent sudden or severe nature of the illness.
A long-term health condition worsening
Medical certificate or GP’s letter reporting the specific deterioration or sudden change and the time period it applies to. The evidence should refer to how the change in conditions has impacted on the student.
Evidence simply confirming the long-term condition without mentioning recent deterioration will be normally deemed insufficient.
Health condition where reasonable adjustments are not yet in place
Letter or e-mail from the University’s Student Support Services confirming that the delay in support was beyond the student’s control.
Victim of a serious crime
Police crime number, legal letters, crime report from the police or other investigating authority; an insurance claim.
Since such evidence does not refer to the impact of the event on the student, further evidence may also be required for ECs claimed to have affected the student for more than a week.
Claims relating to injuries or trauma suffered as a result of a motor traffic accident would normally be considered as a medical circumstance and require suitable medical evidence as outlined above.
Legal proceedings requiring court attendance
Letter from a solicitor/legal officer or official court communication.
Representative participation in a national or international cultural or sports event
Formal notification from the relevant official body or bodies involved. Although independent professional third party evidence outlining the impact on the student’s preparation and completion of the assessment may be supplied, it is likely that impact on the student may be reasonably inferred.
Exceptional and unforeseeable transport difficulties
Evidence of a major transportation incident from a relevant and appropriate source (including media reports). Evidence will also need to demonstrate that the student was both affected and that there was no reasonable means of foreseeing or overcoming the difficulties.
Significant adverse recent personal/family circumstances
Independent professional third party evidence describing the circumstances, time period affected and the impact on the student. Where this is not possible, sufficient detail should be submitted so that the likely effects can be reasonably inferred.
Normally, students should seek corroborating information from an independent person, organisation or support service that could provide verification. Acceptable supporting evidence would normally be an original (not photocopy) document written and signed by an appropriate third party, giving details of the circumstance, its duration, and, where possible, its impact. An appropriate third party would be one who knows the student in a professional capacity or one who can verify the circumstance from a position of authority (e.g. police officer, solicitor, GP, University Counsellor) and who is in a position to provide objective and impartial evidence. Letters from family members and fellow students are not normally accepted. In some circumstances, it may be appropriate for a member of the academic staff to provide a supporting statement.
Dates of evidence must correspond with the extenuating circumstances detailed.
If a student has missed an assignment through ill health, then the illness must coincide with the preparation, writing or deadline of that assessment.
Students, who miss an examination or an invigilated test due to illness or are claiming to have been affected by medical problems during examination, should seek medical attention at the time of their illness where possible. For periods of illness lasting more than 5 days, the student should submit a medical certificate [see below].
Self-certification (short illness lasting 1 - 5 consecutive days) may be accepted to support absence from lectures, classes and examinations. It is not normally accepted in respect of failure to complete coursework by its due date, as coursework schedules normally allow more than five days - often a period of weeks - for the coursework to be completed.
In periods of illness lasting more than 5 days, a medical certificate must be provided. The certificate must relate specifically to the dates and duration of the illness, contain a clear medical diagnosis or opinion and not merely report a student’s claim that they were unwell.
Doctors are entitled to charge for any medical certificates or notes they provide, and may not always provide certificates for short periods of illness. A doctor’s note must be on headed paper and/or stamped by the surgery.
Medical certification must normally be submitted within 7 days of the assessment due date.
If a student has an extenuating circumstance of an unusually delicate or personal nature that they do not wish to document in detail, then the student may elect to discuss with their Personal Academic Tutor or Student Counsellor who will confirm to the Programme Leader that the student has submitted a valid claim. This will ensure that the Programme Leader can consider the claim without knowing all the details.
5. WHAT MIGHT THE OUTCOME BE?
A claim for extenuating circumstances submitted in advance of an assessment is not an alternative to undertaking the necessary assessment, but, if successful, will normally result in the student being provided with an opportunity to undertake the assessment at a future date. The option remains for students to submit coursework up to one week after the published deadline date, without a claim for extenuating circumstances, on the basis that the maximum mark which can then be awarded is 40% for undergraduate or 50% for postgraduate modules.
Where a claim has been submitted after an assessment deadline, or where an examination has been missed, and there is no opportunity to redeem the situation [e.g. by an extension to a deadline] or where a claim is submitted on the basis of diminished performance in an exam or assessment, the Extenuating Circumstances Panel will come to a judgement.
The Extenuating Circumstances Panel will try to ensure a fair result based on overall performance. It may take a number of actions.
For example, if a student has missed an examination, and the Extenuating Circumstances Panel considers the reasons to be valid, it can treat the absence in a number of ways.
Where the claim is in respect of diminished performance as a direct result of the extenuating circumstance, the Extenuating Circumstances Panel will try to determine whether, and to what extent, extenuating circumstances have affected a student’s academic performance, and determine what action, if any, can be taken. In assessing the significance of extenuating circumstances the Extenuating Circumstances Panel will normally take into account:
- the severity of the problem and the length of time involved;
- any supporting documentary evidence;
- whether all work in the same period appears to have been equally affected;
- whether it is possible to gauge the effect of the extenuating circumstances upon academic performance;
- whether achievement is consistent with past performance;
- the type of assessment affected, and how the student had to complete the work (i.e date when work set and deadline for submission).
The Extenuating Circumstances Panel will not give extra marks because a student’s work has been affected by extenuating circumstances, nor will they amend marks from previous years of study, or annotate the statement of results/transcripts with comments about the existence of extenuating circumstances.
The Extenuating Circumstances Panel may decide that the student is given the opportunity to submit for further assessment in the module (or component of module) against which they have claimed extenuating circumstances. The Extenuating Circumstances Panel may also decide not to uphold the claim on the basis that the student has not made a case, that the supporting evidence does not support the claim, or that the student had no good reason for not advising of the circumstances prior to the assessment or examination for which extenuating circumstances are sought.
A claim for extenuating circumstances, which has been considered by the Extenuating Circumstances Panel, may not be submitted again under the academic appeals procedures. If a claim for extenuating circumstances forms the basis of an academic appeal, the student will need to demonstrate why they did not follow the procedures for submitting a claim for extenuating circumstances in advance of the Board of Examiners.
6. FALSE CLAIMS
The submission of a false claim may be regarded as an attempt to gain unfair advantage, which would be an academic offence and could be dealt with under the QMU Disciplinary Procedures.
7. DATA PROTECTION
In submitting an extenuating circumstances form, students agree to the University holding this personal data for the purposes of processing their claim. The University will hold this data in accordance with its notification under the General Data Protection Regulations 2018.
Fitness to Practice Policy
1.1 The University has a duty to the public to use its best endeavours to ensure that students and graduates of its professional healthcare programmes are fit to practise.
1.2 In the context of this policy, fitness to practice has been interpreted to mean that a person has the skills, knowledge, character and health to undertake their professional role safely and effectively.
1.3 The University seeks to promote entry to its healthcare programmes to as wide a range of individuals as possible, in so far as consistent with the above principle.
1.4 The University will not discriminate on the grounds of health or of disability where it can be demonstrated that an applicant or student undertaking a healthcare programme is capable of practising safely and effectively without supervision.
1.5 The University recognises that individuals in an early stage of their healthcare career need to be supported to develop a full understanding of the standards of professional conduct, performance and ethics that apply to the health profession which they are seeking to register. Fitness to Practise procedures should provide for support to students to enable them to learn from mistakes, but must also identify those who give cause for concern.
1.6 Cases will be treated on an individual basis, and with due consideration for fairness and equity.
1.7 The University will comply with its statutory duties in relation to Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults, Rehabilitation of Offenders and Single Equality Legislation.
1.8 References within these regulations to any University officer shall include their properly appointed nominee.
2 Procedures for considering Fitness to Practise
2.1 The University will seek information about character, health and disability prior to admitting students. Clear information about this will be published in the prospectus.
2.2 In seeking information on character, the University will consider information provided in the character reference and will also seek information about criminal conviction or caution at the point of application.
2.3 All students of the University are required to declare whether or not they have a conviction or caution as part of the annual student matriculation process. Additionally, healthcare programmes may require students to self-certify annually their continuing fitness to practise.
2.4 Wherever possible, issues relating to fitness to practise will be dealt with as part of the University’s standard procedures, or at the programme level. However, where a judgement is made that such consideration is not appropriate, there is provision for referral to the Fitness to Practise Panel. The Panel will be convened on the advice of the University Secretary. The secretary to the panel will be appointed by the University Secretary.
2.5 The Panel will consider cases relating to fitness to practise where a student or applicant’s fitness to practise may be affected due to factors, including, but not limited to:
- A criminal conviction that is outwith the provisions of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act
- Allegations of unprofessional or unethical conduct including conduct out with the University
- A declared disability
- A health condition with the potential to affect fitness to practise
2.6 The Panel will have delegated authority to consider, and come to a judgement on:
- the admission of students with criminal convictions, disabilities or health conditions that might affect fitness to practise;
- continued progress of students for whom a criminal conviction is disclosed during the course of their programme;
- continued progress of students who acquire a disability or potentially chronic health condition during the course of their programme;
- continued progress of students who are found to have acted unprofessionally or unethically during the course of their programme.
The Panel may also, as a result of its operation, identify and remit particular issues for discussion and/or review by the Student Experience Committee or School Academic Board as appropriate.
2.7 Only suitably trained people will act as Panellists. A pool of potential Panellists will be maintained and regular training arranged.
2.8 Membership of the Panel will be in line with professional body guidance and will include at least one person from the applicant or student’s intended registered profession.
2.9 Records of the Panel’s proceedings will retained by the University Secretary and processed in line with Data Protection legislation.
3 Consideration of Fitness to Practise at the stage of admitting an applicant to a healthcare related programme
Applicants declaring a disability
3.1 The application will first be considered on its academic merits, in line with the University’s Admissions regulations.
3.2 Where applicants meet the academic criteria, staff of the Admissions department will discuss with the Admissions Tutor whether the applicant’s support needs can be met.
3.3 If additional support is identified as being likely to be required, the Admissions Tutor will discuss the application with the Academic Disabled Students Co-ordinator and the Disability Service.
3.4 If there is any concern that the applicant’s support needs cannot be met, this must be discussed with the applicant. In the majority of cases, it is expected that dialogue with the student will establish what adjustments can or cannot be made.
3.5 More difficult cases will be referred to the Dean of School who should consult the University Secretary. The University Secretary will decide whether to refer the matter to the Fitness to Practise Panel.
Criminal conviction or caution
3.6 Where an applicant has declared a criminal conviction or caution, staff in the Admissions department will ask the applicant for further details about the conviction/caution and forward these to the Head of Admissions and Recruitment.
3.7 The Head of Admissions and Recruitment will consult with the University Secretary to assess whether the conviction is one that would affect the applicant’s fitness to practise as defined the regulating body. If the conviction is judged to have the potential to affect the applicant’s suitability for registration as set out in the professional body’s Code of Conduct or Code of Ethics, the University Secretary and Head of Admissions and Recruitment will discuss the matter with the Head of Division and Dean of School. Following the outcome of that discussion the University Secretary will decide whether to convene a Fitness to Practise Panel. Written records of the reasons for decisions will be retained.
3.8 Where a caution or conviction is revealed through the Disclosure Scotland process or the PVG Scheme, the counter-signatory will consult the Head of Admissions and Recruitment, who will consult in line with provisions of paragraph 3.7 above. The University Secretary will judge whether the matter is referred to a Fitness to Practise Panel.
3.9 In considering the matter, the Panel may consider:
- The number and nature of offences or misconduct
- The seriousness of the offence or misconduct
- When the offences or misconduct occurred
- Any information provided by the applicant in mitigation
- The applicant’s character and conduct since the offence occurred.
Decision not to admit
3.10 In line with the principles and procedures set out above, a range of decisions may be taken in relation to admitting a candidate to a healthcare programme of the University, namely:
- Admit the applicant
- Admit the applicant, subject to provision of specified adjustments and / or support or conditions
- Defer entry for one year (where this would provide additional information relevant to the decision making process)
- Not admit the applicant
3.12 An individual who has been the subject of a decision not to admit for reasons of fitness to practise may appeal that decision.
3.13 Should an individual be admitted subject to conditions, the individual must comply with those conditions. Should the student be in breach of those conditions at any point during their academic career, the student will be referred back to a Fitness to Practise Panel immediately.
4 Referral of issues relating to conduct on a programme of study
4.1 All students of the University are subject to the jurisdiction of the Principal in respect of their studies and their conduct. It is a condition of entry to the University that each student shall conform to the published rules and regulations.
4.2 Students on healthcare programmes should be aware that their conduct outside the clinical environment, including their private lives, may have an impact on their fitness to practise, as set out in the requirements of the professional body governing their programme of study. Such requirements are designed to ensure that their behaviour justifies the trust that patients and the public place in their profession.
4.3 A student may be referred to the University's Fitness to Practise procedure through a number of routes which include by a Programme Committee, by a Disciplinary Committee or directly following a complaint to the University Secretary. Should a student be on placement or just about to go on placement when a matter is raised under this Section of the Fitness to Practise proceedings, the Head of Division may prevent or remove the student from placement with immediate effect if deemed appropriate.
4.4 Where it is judged that the matter does not fall under the terms of the Regulations governing Discipline, but nevertheless constitutes a concern in terms of professional practice, the Programme Leader will be informed. Where possible allegations in this category will be dealt with by the Programme Leader.
4.5 Where a Programme Committee has persistent concerns about a student’s conduct which have not been satisfactorily resolved at local level by the Programme Leader, the Programme Leader may ask the University Secretary to convene a Fitness to Practise Panel.
4.6 A referral or an allegation of concern about conduct must be made in writing, signed by the complainant and submitted to the University Secretary.
4.7 Anonymous allegations will not normally be considered. In considering the allegation, the University Secretary may withhold the identity of the individual making the allegation if maintenance of confidentiality is considered appropriate.
4.8 Where the conduct that is the subject of the complaint would constitute a breach of the disciplinary code, the University Secretary will refer the allegation to the Principal. The Principal may dismiss the allegation immediately if they believe that there is no case for the student to answer, or that it is for some other reason appropriate to do so.
4.9 If the allegation is not dismissed, and the offence does not lead the Principal to suspend or exclude the student under the provisions outlined in section 4 of the University’s Regulations governing Discipline, the matter will be referred to the Dean of School. The Dean of School will consult with the University Secretary on whether or not the matter should be dealt with summarily or referred to a Disciplinary Committee or referred directly to a Fitness to Practise Panel.
4.10 If the finding of the disciplinary procedure, either summary or Panel, is that the student has breached expected standards of conduct, including professional conduct, then the matter will be referred to a Fitness to Practise Panel. That will include those cases where it has been judged that there are mitigating factors, such as a diagnosed health condition.
4.11 In those cases where the conduct reported as giving rise to concern is linked to a mental health condition, the case will normally be referred to the Fitness to Practise Panel as a health matter.
4.12 Where a matter has been referred to a Fitness to Practise Panel, the Panel will be constituted as set out in Section 2 above. The proceedings of the Panel will be governed by the procedures set out in Section 6 of this procedure.
4.13 Legal representation will not be permitted at the Panel hearing.
4.14 The standard of proof applied in considering the case will be the civil standard of proof, ie the balance of probabilities.
4.15 A Fitness to Practise Panel has delegated authority to reach the following decisions, ie that:
i) The student continues on the programme
ii) The student continues on the programme but is cautioned, meaning that if any further fitness to practise issues arise in the following twelve months, the student will be dealt with for both matters
iii) The student continues on the programme subject to fulfilment of certain conditions as specified by the Panel (which conditions can include the requirement to attend specified courses or counselling if deemed appropriate)
iv) The student is required to suspend study to allow time for medical investigations (for cases where unacceptable behaviour is linked to a mental health condition)
v) The student is required to suspend study for a period up to twelve months
vi) The student is advised to transfer to an alternative programme
vii) The student is asked to exit with an alternative award which does not permit the student to register with a regulatory body
viii) The student is required to withdraw
4.16 Should the student not comply with any conditions specified under Section 4.15(iii) above, a further Fitness to Practise Panel may be convened immediately to review the case and impose any further conditions or reach a different decision as the Panel deems necessary.
5 Issues relating to health and physical ability on a programme of study
5.1 In the context of this policy statement, the requirement for an individual to be in good health does not mean that they do not have a disability or health condition. Many disabled people and those with long term health conditions are able to practice safely with or without adjustments to support their professional practice.
5.2 It is recognised too that a disability may emerge after admission to a programme, that an existing health condition may worsen or that a student on a programme may acquire a disability.
5.3 In considering whether or not a disability has the potential to affect a student’s fitness to practise, the Programme Leader should first discuss the student’s individual needs with the student and the Academic Disabled Student Co-ordinator to explore what extra support may be required from both the University and/or placement providers. Students with suspected disabilities and/or specific learning difficulties will be advised to contact Student Services to arrange to meet the Disability Advisor for further assessment, for example by an external agency e.g. Royal National Institute for the Blind or an Educational Psychologist.
5.4 Where there is doubt about whether effective support can be provided by both the University and/or the placement provider, the matter will be discussed by the Programme Committee under Reserved Business. The Programme Committee may refer the case to the Fitness to Practise Panel, via the University Secretary.
5.5 Health conditions may develop that affect fitness to practise. Short term conditions will be dealt with by the Programme Leader through the normal extenuating circumstances procedures. Where a student has missed periods of placement due to ill-health, the Programme Leader will discuss a revised programme of study with the student to allow him or her to catch up on missed work. In some cases, it may be necessary to defer study for up to a year.
5.6 It is essential that students notify staff immediately should they contract a communicable disease. Normally, arrangements will be put in place in line with NHS, NMC or HCPC protocols. This will be discussed between the Programme Leader, student and placement supervisor.
5.7 Mental health conditions may be short or long term. The primary responsibility of the University is to support the student to ensure the best chance of recovery. However, a decision may be taken that it is advisable to postpone periods of placement until the student’s condition has stabilised.
5.8 While it is expected that the Programme Leader will attempt to support the student informally if possible, if it is judged that the student may not be safe to go on placement; or if a placement supervisor raises such a concern during placement, a referral will be made to the Fitness to Practise Panel.
5.9 In the interests of a student’s and/or patient safety, the University may act to suspend a student temporarily pending the outcome of Fitness to Practise proceedings in order to remove the student from placement or prevent him or her from starting a placement.
5.10 If the Student Counsellor becomes aware that a student’s medical condition may pose a risk to patient safety the Programme Leader should be informed. The terms of the University’s Counselling service client confidentiality agreement will state clearly that this is a possibility.
5.11 In all the above cases, the University may require independent medical reports and / or occupational health assessments. Students may be temporarily suspended while reports are sought.
5.13 A Fitness to Practise Panel will not normally be convened until reports are available. However, where a student refuses to attend an occupational health assessment, the Panel may proceed on the basis that the student has refused to provide evidence of their fitness to practise.
5.14 The following decisions are possible:
i) The student continues on the programme
ii) The student continues on the programme with suitable adjustments made to accommodate the student’s needs
iii) The student continues on the programme under supervision with a time period set for review
iv) The student is required to suspend study to allow time for a health condition to improve or to allow time for suitable arrangements to be put in place to accommodate the student’s needs
v) The student is advised to transfer to an alternative programme
vi) The student is asked to exit with an alternative award which does not permit the student to register with a regulatory body
vii) The student is required to withdraw
6 Fitness to Practise Panel
6.1 A Fitness to Practise Panel may be convened to consider issues of health or character concerning an applicant to, or a student studying on, a healthcare programme leading to professional registration.
6.2 The University Secretary will appoint the members of the Fitness to Practise Panel, and invite one of them to act as Convener. The University Secretary will appoint a secretary to the Panel and will arrange for a note of the proceedings to be taken. The Panel may seek advice from a qualified lawyer.
6.3 The Panel will include at least one person from the profession to which the applicant or student is seeking professional registration.
6.4 Normally, a Panel would include the following:
- One senior academic member of staff (convener)
- One NMC or HCPC representative
- One non-academic member (patient or lay representative)
- Programme Leader/designated signatory for the professional outcome or a suitable substitute suggested by the Programme Leader
6.5 The Panel will rely only on evidence presented at the hearing. If the hearing concerns a student who has previously been the subject of a disciplinary investigation in relation to the same matter, the confirmed report of that investigation shall be provided as evidence
6.6 The standard of proof will be the civil standard, i.e the balance of probabilities. If the members of the Panel cannot agree, the verdict of the Panel will be that of the majority of its members. In cases where the Panel is split evenly, the Convener shall have the casting vote.
6.7 The Panel may ask for additional enquiries to be undertaken where it considers that this will aid its consideration of the case.
6.8 If two or more students are involved in related misconduct, the Panel may at its discretion deal with their cases together.
6.9 The evidence presented at the hearing will normally be written evidence which will be provided to the Panel no fewer than 7 days before the Panel is due to meet. The person who is the subject of the hearing will be advised of the date of the hearing no fewer than 14 days prior to the scheduled date of the hearing. She/he will be provided with copies of the documents being provided to the Panel, and will be invited to provide the Panel with any further information that they would wish the Panel to consider.
6.10 The Panel will refuse to admit evidence that is in its opinion irrelevant to the matter under discussion.
6.11 The Panel shall have power to adjourn a hearing to another date, as it thinks fit.
6.12 At the termination of the proceedings, the Convener of the Panel will write a short report, summarising the discussion and setting out the Panel’s decision and reasoning. A copy of the report will be sent to the applicant/student and to the Principal.
6.13 The Principal has the power to suspend the activity of the Fitness to Practise Panel at any time should they believe it appropriate to do so.
7 Right of appeal
7.1 An individual may appeal against the decision of a Fitness to Practise Panel.
7.2 An appeal must be made to the University Secretary within twenty-eight days of the conclusion of the proceedings. The appellant must set out in writing the grounds on which the appeal is based.
7.3 There will be no entitlement to a rehearing of the case, which will be allowed only in exceptional circumstances.
7.4 The appellant must submit the appeal in writing to the Principal, who will judge whether or not a prima facie case exists on the basis that:
- there has been demonstrably an irregularity in the Fitness to Practise procedure;
- evidence has become available that it was not reasonable to present during the original hearing.
7.5 In the event that a re-hearing is judged appropriate, an appeal panel will be convened.
7.6 The University Secretary shall appoint an appeal panel and the appeal panel shall consist of members drawn from the following:-
- the Deputy Principal (to act as Convener)
- the Dean of School
- a non-academic member
- a senior NMC or HCPC representative
The appeal panel shall conduct its proceedings according to the principles of natural justice in that it will it will seek to act fairly, no person may be a judge in their own case and the appellant shall have access to all the evidence used by the panel in reaching its decision.
7.7 The appellant shall have the right to appear before the appeal panel and to be accompanied by one other person of their choice. Representation external to the University will not be permitted in the context of this procedure.
7.8 The Convener of the Fitness to Practise Panel concerned with the case shall be invited, prior to the meeting, to submit to the appeal panel comments relevant to the case under discussion and may be invited to attend part or all of the meeting of the appeal panel at which the case is being considered.
7.9 Any person called to give evidence to the appeal panel will be given at least 72 hours’ notice of the time and place of the hearing. Copies of written submissions will also be made available to all parties prior to the hearing.
7.10 In the event that the appellant is unable to attend the appeal panel due to illness, the meeting will be rescheduled.
7.11 The appeal panel shall meet, normally within one calendar month (excluding University vacations) of the referral from the Principal, and communicate its conclusions to appellant and the subject area concerned within one calendar month of its being convened. The University Secretary will keep all parties informed of progress and will advise of any necessary extension of the timescale, for example, if an adjournment in the proceedings is necessary.
7.12 The appeal panel hearing the appeal may overturn the finding of the original Fitness to Practise Panel. In particular, a finding may be overturned in the light of new evidence; or where it is found that the original hearing was not conducted fairly; or where the finding was unreasonable in the light of the findings of fact. The appeal panel may impose any additional sanction they deem necessary.
7.13 The decision of the appeal panel shall be final within the University.
8 Independent review
8.1 The University’s internal procedures having been exhausted, an individual may seek review of their case by an independent person, the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman [SPSO].
8.2 The Ombudsman is independent and their staff will advise whether or not the complaint is one that they can investigate. Normally the student will have to tell the Ombudsman about their complaint within 12 months of first knowing about the problem about which they are complaining, although the Ombudsman may look at complaints outside this limit if they think there is good reason to do so.
8.3 There are some restrictions on what the Ombudsman can investigate. If the complaint is appropriate to their office and is investigated, the Ombudsman’s staff will send details of how this will be done.
8.4 The complaint should be submitted in writing to the Ombudsman, and should include any relevant documents including correspondence with the University and the University’s response to the complaint. This can be sent to the Ombudsman without cost at the freepost address given below. A student may discuss the complaint with an Investigator at the SPSO before deciding to submit.
8.5 The Scottish Public Services Ombudsman has an online complaint form accessible through the website although papers in support of the complaint would still have to be supplied to the Ombudsman by post or other means. The Scottish Public Services Ombudsman can also supply paper complaint forms direct to complainants.
8.6 Further information may be accessed through the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman website or by calling their office for advice. Contact details are:
Freepost SPSO, SPSO, Bridgeside House, 99 McDonald Road, Edinburgh EH7 4NS
Opening hours: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday 9am–5pm, Tuesday 10am–5pm
SPSO freephone 0800 377 7330
Website:Scottish Public Services Ombudsman website
Fitness to Study
Fitness to Study Policy and Procedure
It is expected that all students that are enrolled on a university course are fit to undertake and complete their studies. However, should a situation arise where there are concerns as to a student’s fitness to study, this policy provides both the student and the University with a procedure that allows for appropriate support to be put in place with the aim of supporting the student to continue with their studies. In rare cases, where there is not restoration of the student’s fitness to study, the student may be de-matriculated, so they can focus on recovery.
The University recognises the student’s need for help and support and also for clarity about their future as a student. This procedure provides for the University promptly addressing any cases where a student’s fitness to study becomes a concern, with the intention that an early intervention may prevent situations developing into crises.
The University is committed to supporting student wellbeing and recognises that a positive approach to the management of physical and mental health issues is critical to student learning, academic achievement and to the wider student experience.
Fitness to study is defined as fitness to participate and to function in University life. This means that the student is:
- fit in respect of the abilities of the student to meet the requirements of the course and achieve relevant academic and professional goals
- fit in respect of the behaviours expected in an academic learning, residential and social environment;
- fit in respect of the ability to be more or less self-sustaining within the Higher Education environment, with the only support provided of the scale and scope that an Higher Education Institution can reasonably be expected to provide.
- The University also recognises that there may be instances where a student’s physical or mental health may give rise to concerns about the student’s fitness to study, for example the student’s capacity to engage with their studies and/or to function more widely as a member of the University community. Such instances may arise where, for example, the University is concerned that:
- a student poses a risk to their own health, safety and/or wellbeing and/ or that of others;
- a student’s behaviour is (or is at risk of) adversely affecting the teaching, learning and/or experience of other students;
- a student’s behaviour is (or is at risk of) adversely affecting the day-to-day activities of the University or a placement provider;
- a student’s support needs fall outside the scope of the support and other services which the University can reasonably be expected to provide either directly or indirectly.
This Policy and Procedure sets out how the University will respond to instances where a concern is raised regarding a student’s fitness to study, and the type of action that the University may take to manage the matter and support the student.
Level 1 – Initial concerns/informal intervention within the Academic Programme
Level 2 – Formal intervention within the Academic School
Level 3 – Fitness to Study Panel
Depending on individual circumstances, this procedure may be invoked at any of the three levels above. For students on Nursing and Allied Health courses, the Fitness to Practise Policy would ordinarily be invoked instead of the Fitness to Study Procedure.
Students may appeal against a decision under the Fitness to Study Procedure. The procedure to do so is set out in section 4 and the appeal shall be addressed to the University Secretary.
Principles and Scope of Procedure
1.1 This procedure is not an alternative to disciplinary action, or other relevant University procedures or policies such as the Regulations Governing Discipline or Assessment Regulations. The University reserves the right to initiate other procedures where appropriate.
1.2 A student’s fitness to study may be considered despite the fact that other University processes have been invoked. Examples of other relevant procedures include:
- Failure to make satisfactory progress in academic studies (dealt with under the appropriate Assessment Regulations).
- Misconduct as normally defined by the University (dealt with under the Regulations Governing Discipline).
The University may refer the treatment of a student’s case out of one procedure to another to secure an appropriate response on the facts of the case but will not normally consider parallel procedures about the same substantive matter. The determination of which procedure should apply shall be made by the University Secretary.
1.3 The identified serious concern(s) may relate to the presence of a diagnosed illness or disability but this procedure may also be used when there is no diagnosed illness or disability, or no notification of such a diagnosis.
1.4 The Fitness to Study Procedure consists of three levels. Depending on the individual circumstances, this procedure may be invoked at any of the three levels.
1.5 If the student has been given permission for deferral of studies (leave of absence), it will ordinarily be more appropriate for the Fitness to Study Procedure to be considered once the student returns to study.
1.6 The principles of this policy and procedure apply to all registered students in all locations on and off campus, both in the UK and overseas.
1.7 If a concern regarding fitness to study arises whilst the student is on placement, the University may discuss and consider alternative arrangements with the placement provider. If it is not possible for alternative arrangements to be made, the student’s placement may be withdrawn and deferral or other adjustments considered.
1.8 All matters dealt with under this Procedure will be dealt with according to the individual circumstances. Whilst the University anticipates that such cases will be exceptional, it reserves the right at any level of this Procedure to vary the process it follows in dealing with a matter in the interests of fairness and/or health and safety (for example, in crisis situations, or where it is concerned that a student’s attendance at a meeting would be unduly stressful, or where the student is in hospital).
1.9 University staff dealing with students at any level of this Procedure will consider what support may be offered to the student both from within the University (e.g. by staff of Student Services) and externally (e.g. directing or referring students to local GPs or mental health services). Students will be encouraged to seek support where it is deemed necessary. Impartial advice about this procedure may be sought from the Queen Margaret University Students’ Union
1.10 Students should be involved in the management of their own wellbeing wherever possible. However, should a student be unwilling or unable to participate at any level of this Procedure or to attend a meeting, the University may nonetheless follow this Procedure where it is reasonable to do so. The University may in exceptional circumstances, where it is reasonable to do so, deal with issues on the basis of written reports and/or statements in the absence of the student and/or their representative.
1.11 Where in this Procedure reference is made to any named University role, such references are to be read as including reference to their nominees, or nearest equivalent where matters are being considered in partner institutions.
2 Circumstances for Support / Intervention
2.1 The University recognises that concerns may be raised by a variety of individuals, for example University staff, other students, and third parties (such as health professionals or placement providers). This Procedure seeks to promote early intervention, active collaboration between staff, students and third parties, and consistency of approach. Matters will be dealt with sensitively and non-judgementally and in a coordinated manner across the University. Whilst the University will seek to work with students in a spirit of cooperation, cases may arise in which it may, under this Procedure, determine that a student is unfit to study and that their studies should be suspended or terminated.
2.2 Serious concerns about a student’s fitness to study may present in a number of different ways. The following are some of the more common indicators that may warrant serious concern. (This is not an exhaustive list.)
- Rapid deterioration in academic performance
- Poor attendance
- Lack of engagement with tutors/School
- Failure to respond to University communications
- Change in mood
- Poor personal hygiene
- Social withdrawal
- Emotional distress
- The sudden on-set of a physical difficulty or mental health problem
- Signs of self-harming
- Drug or alcohol problems
- Change in behaviour
- Police report to the University
- Problems in accommodation
- An unusually high number of Extenuating Circumstances applications
- A pattern of behaviour or communications which appear irrational or extremely
- A pattern of unreasonable demands, which appear irrational, inappropriate or inconsistent
- Failure to submit work or to comply with other requirements of the programme of study.
- Repeated interruptions of study
- General failure to engage with the School, service providers or the University’s procedures, including that for Fitness to Study
Whilst isolated incidents of the indicators do not usually constitute a case in which to initiate this Procedure, there may be serious cause for concern when there is a sustained pattern, a combination of indicators or a significant single incident.
2.3 Initiation of this Procedure at any Level does not, and must not, by itself be taken to be a justification for not proceeding with the programme of study (e.g. as to submission and marking of work) from either the student or the School’s point of view.
2.4 At all stages of the Procedure, students will be able to retain support from relevant Student Services staff, but this will be limited to personal support for wellbeing. Support from staff of Student Services would not normally extend to representation or advocacy, and Student Services staff cannot attend meetings/hearings as the student’s supporter. Students may nevertheless seek support from the Students’ Union, and the Welfare and Representation Co-ordinator may attend meetings alongside students to offer support.
2.5 In implementing this Procedure, the University will at all times act in accordance with its duty of care and its obligations to students under the Equality Act 2010, including in appropriate cases its obligation to make reasonable adjustments. In addition to the reasonable adjustments that may be made as a result of a needs assessment based on a known disability, there are in place a number of powers devolved to the School to make adjustments to normal academic provision for physical and mental health issues and special learning needs as well as other personal extenuating circumstances.
3 Fitness to Study Process
Level 1 – Initial concerns: informal intervention within the academic programme
3.1 In the first instance, initial serious concerns about a student’s conduct raising fitness to study issues should normally be raised by, or addressed to, the student’s personal academic tutor or supervisor (PAT/S). If there is good reason for the PAT/S not being contacted about concerns, for instance, if there has been a breakdown in relations, the concerns should be raised with the Dean, who will nominate an alternative member of staff to act as the PAT/S for the purposes of this procedure.
3.2 The PAT/S should consult the Programme Leader on the matter reported and together they may seek advice from the Head of the Student Services and/or the Dean or nominee. The PAT/S will arrange a meeting with the student – or arrange for another authorised member of staff in the academic programme to hold the meeting. The meeting is intended to be supportive in nature, fact finding and non-confrontational in order to encourage open discussion. The meeting should be held as soon as is practicable after the serious concern is identified. The PAT/S shall:
(a) explain the Fitness to Study Procedure and at the meeting give the student a copy;
(b) outline the concerns and provide examples where appropriate;
(c) explain the impact on the student and, if appropriate, on others;
(d) remind the student that fitness to study is essential for successful completion of their studies and encourage the student to co-operate and act to ensure that they are fit to study;
(e) if appropriate, explain the extent of the University’s duty of care to make reasonable adjustments.
3.3 The content and nature of the discussion will determine possible outcomes. Where appropriate, the PAT/S should propose an action plan to address and remove the concerns and secure the necessary appropriate support if any articulated at the meeting. Examples may include, but are not limited to, recommendations that the student:
- seek help from Student Services, their GP or another external service;
- seek advice on matters of concern;
- reflect on conduct;
- submit an Extenuating Circumstances form;
- complete required assessments;
- attend classes;
- submit a deferral of study application.
The action plan should clearly allocate any tasks for the student and set an equally clear timetable. The PAT/S shall keep in a confidential file a record (not verbatim) of the meeting, including details of the proposed action plan and provide a copy of this to the student. The student shall be required to indicate whether or not the action plan is agreed.
3.4 The PAT/S should arrange to review the student’s case in a subsequent meeting in an agreed time period, normally of not more than one month. The key points of the review meeting will be given in writing to the student, normally 7 calendar days in advance of the review meeting.
If the concerns about a student’s fitness to study have been significantly reduced and/or eliminated, no further action shall be taken, unless further concerns arise at a later date, in which case a Level 2 intervention may be appropriate.
If the Level 1 intervention is unsuccessful because the student has not attended a meeting, or failed to agree the action plan, or otherwise failed to engage in the procedure, or the case is judged too serious to be addressed at Level 1, Level 2 of the procedure may be invoked.
Level 2 – Formal intervention within the academic programme
3.5 Level 2 is a more formal intervention to be used when Level 1 has not been successful or the student’s conduct or circumstances indicate that further intervention is required. It will normally be initiated by the Programme Leader, with agreement of the relevant Dean. It is recommended that the Programme Leader requests support and/or advice from the Head of the Student Services, if this was not sought during Level 1.
3.6 A Level 2 intervention normally comprises a formal meeting as set out below at paragraph 3.7. The student will be given reasonable written notice of the meeting, together with information on the purpose of the meeting. The student should be requested to provide any necessary detailed information and documentation including, if appropriate, medical evidence.
3.7 The meeting should normally include the Programme Leader (as meeting Chair) and the student’s PAT/S or relevant nominees. Other members of staff may be invited but attendance should be limited to those that can contribute to a possible solution. Invited attendance may include a representative from Student Services and/or Accommodation Services, or other relevant service, if appropriate. A note taker will be appointed to attend.
3.8 The student may be accompanied at a Level 2 meeting by a friend or supporter, as outlined at paragraph 2.4 above.
3.9 The meeting will normally proceed where the student does not attend or engage in the process, and the meeting will normally consider the case even where the student has not provided requested evidence.
3.10 At the meeting, the student will be informed of the reasons for the serious concern about the student’s fitness to study, including detailed examples if appropriate. The student will be given the opportunity to ask questions and respond. A key purpose is to establish the student’s
perception of, or insight into, the situation and how this is impacting on the student’s wellbeing and studies and on other students and staff.
3.11 The conclusions drawn from the content and nature of the discussion will determine possible outcomes. If serious concerns remain, the outcome will normally be the establishment of an action plan to address and remove the serious concerns, including the provision of any appropriate support articulated at the meeting. The meeting may, without prejudice to other conclusions, decide on one or more of the following:
- That no further action is necessary;
- That it is necessary to agree an action plan with the student;
- That, subject to the student’s consent, it is necessary and appropriate for the Programme Leader to consider an adjustment to hours of study;
- That, subject to the student’s consent, it is necessary and appropriate to agree an interruption from the programme (leave of absence);
- That it is necessary to make a referral to Level 3 of the procedure;
- That it is necessary to make a referral to other University procedures, as appropriate, for example the Regulations Governing Discipline or Fitness to Practise;
- Other actions intended to support the student to successful completion of their studies.
If the student does not agree to the discussed supportive proposed outcome, the member of staff should advise the student that Level 3 action will normally be taken.
3.12 The Chair of the meeting will ensure that there is a written record of the meeting and any determined actions. If an action plan is agreed, it will normally include the specification of desirable behaviour and appropriate expectations, support mechanisms, together with a date for a review meeting. If appropriate, it may also detail the consequences of non-engagement by the student. The action plan may also include a request that the student provide medical evidence in support of their fitness to study.
3.13 The record and action plan will normally be sent to the student within 7 calendar days of the meeting. The student will be asked to agree to the action plan by signing and returning one copy, or by confirming their agreement by University email. A copy of the documentation will also be held on the student’s personal file.
3.14 Review meetings will be convened as agreed. Attendees at review meetings may be different to those in attendance at the original level 2 meeting. The student will have the opportunity to be accompanied by a friend or supporter. A written record of the meeting shall be made and this, together with the outcome, will be given to the student normally within 7 calendar days of the review meeting and will be copied to the student’s file. For monitoring purposes, the Chair or nominee may request regular updates on the student’s progress against the action plan requirements for review.
If the concerns about a student’s fitness to study have been substantially reduced and/or eliminated, it is likely that no further action will require to be taken. If the student does not abide by the provisions of the action plan, the Chair may convene a review meeting before the planned date, or escalate, as appropriate. If there is insufficient improvement following the Level 2 initial or review meetings, or there is otherwise a failure to engage in the University’s Fitness to Study Procedure or, finally the case is too serious to be addressed at Level 2, Level 3 of the procedure may be invoked.
Level 3 – Fitness to Study Panel
3.15 Level 3 is a formal intervention, normally initiated by the University Secretary, or nominated designated officer, with advice/following consultation with academic staff or staff of Student Services.
3.16 Level 3 of the Fitness to Study Procedure may be initiated if any one or more of the following applies:
- a student fails to address serious concerns about fitness to study identified at Level 2;
- a student’s behaviour creates further serious concern beyond that at Level 2;
- the circumstances presented raise particularly serious issues as to the student’s fitness to study successfully
- there is evidence of significant adverse impact upon, or risk to, the student or others.
3.17 The University Secretary will request that a Fitness to Study Panel is convened. The Panel will consist of 3 members, one of whom will normally be the Head of Student Services or designated nominee. Two other independent members of staff who have not previously been involved will be appointed, one of whom shall be invited to act as Convener of the Panel.
3.18 The purpose of the Panel is to gather and assess evidence about the student’s fitness to study and to determine appropriate actions. The Convener will determine witnesses to be called upon to give evidence, including such witnesses from the following areas of the University, as are appropriate on the facts of the case:
- Academic Programme;
- Residence Life Team in Accommodation;
- Students’ Union;
- Student Services.
Secretariat support for the Panel will be provided through the relevant School Manager.
3.19 The student will be given no less than 14 days written notice of the meeting. The notice will inform the student of the purpose of the meeting and, where appropriate, will request from the student detailed information as necessary, including documentary evidence as to fitness to study. The student will be informed of the following:
- Their right to be accompanied to the meeting by a friend or supporter;
- Details of the Panel composition and those invited to attend to give evidence;
- The right to request witnesses to be present at the meeting. The student should provide details of the proposed witness(es) and the nature of the intended evidence they would provide. The Chair will determine whether they are permitted to attend.
Documentation sent to the student and the Panel in advance of the meeting should include:
- Details of the case, including all evidence and previously agreed action plans;
- A copy of this Fitness to Study Procedure;
- Any medical or other evidence provided by the student.
3.20 The Fitness to Study Panel meeting will proceed, where possible, even where the student does not attend or engage in the process. The meeting will consider the case even where the student has not provided requested evidence. The meeting may also proceed if a witness or other invited attendee is unable to attend.
3.21 After review of the case, the Fitness to Study Panel may decide that:
- no further action is necessary
- it is necessary to agree an action plan
- it is necessary to maintain or revise a previous action plan
- with or without the student’s consent, it is necessary and appropriate to adjust the hours of study – Programme Leader approval will be sought
- with the student’s consent, it is necessary and appropriate to agree an interruption from the programme (leave of absence) – Programme Leader approval will be sought
- without the student’s consent, it is necessary and appropriate to suspend the student’s
with or without the student’s consent, it is necessary to terminate the student’s studies at the University
it is necessary to make a referral to other University procedures, as appropriate, for example the Regulations Governing Discipline or Code of Conduct
other actions intended to support the student to successful completion of their studies.
3.22 The Convener of the Fitness to Study Panel will ensure that there is a written record of the meeting, and any determined actions. If an action plan is agreed, it will normally include the specification of appropriate actions, including desirable behaviour or specific expectations, support mechanisms together with dates for a review meeting. Where appropriate, it may also detail the consequences of non-engagement by the student. The action plan may also include a request for the student to provide medical evidence as to fitness to study.
3.23 For monitoring purposes, the Convener may request regular updates on the student’s progress in accordance with the action plan requirements. An outcome report will be provided to the student as soon as possible after the meeting, outlining the decision of the Panel, together with its reasoning. The outcome will be noted on the student’s personal file.
3.24 If appropriate, review meetings should be convened as agreed. If the student does not abide by the provisions of an action plan, the Convener may convene a review meeting before the planned date, or escalate as appropriate. The Panel and the identity of other attendees may be different to that at the original Level 3 Panel meeting. A review meeting may come to a determination of the case, based on evidence before it at the review meeting, in accordance with paragraph 3.19.
3.25 Where it has been agreed to terminate a student’s studies at the University or impose an interruption of studies (leave of absence), this will be recorded on the student’s central record.
4 Right of Appeal
4.1 A student wishing to appeal against a decision under the Fitness to Study Procedure should follow the procedure set out below.
4.2 Where the decision against which a student is appealing involves partial or full suspension or termination of studies, the student will not, subject to this paragraph, be permitted to attend University while the appeal is being determined. Students may apply for permission to attend if they can demonstrate that it would be unreasonable to debar them from attending their programme of study pending the appeal. Grounds for such an appeal may include, but are not limited to, a change in circumstances since the Fitness to Study hearing or the fact that the timing of an appeal hearing means that a successful appellant will be prevented from returning to study immediately because of University regulations governing registration. Applications should be made to the University Secretary who may refuse or grant permission to attend the University and may, if granting permission to attend, limit attendance to specific locations and/or times.
4.3 The Fitness to Study Appeal should be lodged within 21 calendar days of the original decision. The application should be in writing and addressed to the University Secretary.
4.4 The appeal against a Fitness to Study outcome may only be made on the following ground(s):
- There has been demonstrably an irregularity in the Fitness to Study procedure;
- Evidence has become available that it was not reasonable to present during the original hearing or consideration of the case.
4.5 The appeal application should be accompanied by any supporting documentation and should state which of the above grounds form the basis of the appeal.
4.6 The University Secretary shall judge whether or not, on the face of it, a case exists on the basis of the grounds outlined at paragraph 4.3. In the event that a re-hearing is judged appropriate, the University Secretary shall appoint an Appeal Panel.
4.7 Members of the Appeal Panel shall be drawn from the following:
- The Deputy Principal (to act as Convener);
- The Dean of School;
- A member drawn from outwith the academic staff.
The Appeal Panel shall conduct its proceedings according to the principles of natural justice in that it will seek to act fairly, no person may be a judge in their own case and the appellant shall have access to all the evidence used by the Panel in reaching its decision.
4.8 The appellant shall have the right to appear before the Appeal Panel and to be accompanied by one other person of their choice. Representation external to the University will not be permitted in the context of this Procedure.
4.9 The Convener of the original Fitness to Study Panel concerned with the case shall be invited, prior to the meeting, to submit to the Appeal Panel comments relevant to the case under discussion and may be invited to attend part or all of the meeting of the Appeal Panel at which the case is being considered.
4.10 The Appeal Panel may, in determining the appeal, confirm or vary or quash the original decision. If a student is reinstated to the University on an appeal against suspension or termination of studies, they shall not suffer any loss of time counted towards residence qualifications for a particular course. The student, nevertheless, shall be required to pay appropriate fees, notwithstanding temporary loss of tuition and other facilities in the University.
4.11 The decision of the Appeal Panel shall be final within the University.
5 Independent review
5.1 The University’s internal procedures having been exhausted, an individual may seek review of their case by an independent person, the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO).
5.2 The Ombudsman is independent and their staff will advise whether or not the complaint is one that they can investigate. Normally the student will have to tell the Ombudsman about their complaint within 12 months of first knowing about the problem about which they are complaining, although the Ombudsman may look at complaints outside this limit if they think there is good reason to do so.
5.3 There are some restrictions on what the Ombudsman can investigate. If the complaint is appropriate to their office and is investigated, the Ombudsman’s staff will send details of how this will be done.
5.4 The complaint should be submitted in writing to the Ombudsman, and should include any relevant documents including correspondence with the University and the University’s response to the complaint. This can be sent to the Ombudsman without cost at the freepost address given below. A student may discuss the complaint with an Investigator at the SPSO before deciding to submit.
5.5 The Scottish Public Services Ombudsman has an online complaint form accessible through the website although papers in support of the complaint would still have to be supplied to the Ombudsman by post or other means. The Scottish Public Services Ombudsman can also supply paper complaint forms direct to complainants.
5.6 Further information may be accessed through the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman website or by calling the SPSO office for advice. Contact details are:
Freepost SPSO, SPSO, Bridgeside House, 99 McDonald Road, Edinburgh EH7 4NS
Opening hours: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday 9am–5pm, Tuesday 10am–5pm
SPSO freephone 0800 377 7330
6 Suspension of Studies
6.1 At any stage of this procedure, the University Secretary, or properly appointed designate, may place an interim suspension on a student from the University, upon report of serious concerns and pending further investigation.
6.2 Interim suspension means that the student may not be on University property other than for specific appointments which must be agreed in advance, and in writing, between the student and the University Secretary. Subject to QMUSU agreement this interim suspension normally includes the Students’ Union. The University Secretary may determine that an interim suspension is limited to specified areas, activities and facilities of the University.
6.3 Where an interim suspension has been applied, this will be subject to review every two weeks or at key stages as determined within the case management process by the University Secretary.
6.4 Where a student has been subject to an interim suspension for a period of 6 weeks or more, the student has the right to apply in writing to the University Secretary for a review of the interim suspension. The student shall specify the grounds for the review. Subsequent independent reviews may be conducted where a reasonable case may be made that circumstances have changed.
6.5 Throughout a period of suspension, students are not expected to engage with the University or with their studies. The exception to this may be where the student is receiving ongoing therapeutic support from staff of Student Services.
6.6 Normally, imposed periods of suspension under this procedure will be for no more than one year in total. If longer periods of suspension are required, it is recommended that a student’s studies are terminated, and the student is required to re-apply for admission at a later date.
6.7 It will be the student’s responsibility to inform the Student Funding Body (which will be different in Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland), sponsor, or any other relevant person/group of any suspension.
7 Return to Study
7.1 If the formal outcome of the Fitness to Study case is a period of suspension/ interruption of studies (leave of absence), a return to study review will normally be initiated within a 4 week period of the expected return to study. Where appropriate, students will only be permitted to return from a period of suspension/interruption of studies (leave of absence), after receiving suitable medical or other evidence stating that the student is fit to return to study.
7.2 Normally, a return to study plan will need to be agreed with the student, the authorised member of staff in the academic programme and a representative from Student Services. This should be agreed within one month of the planned return to study. The plan should include any relevant support, including, for example, specific study support, Student Services support and any other support deemed necessary for the student’s successful return to study. The student will be required to comply with all agreed actions in order to remain at the University.
7.3 Following the return to study, regular review meetings should take place – these should be initiated by the authorised member of staff in the academic programme and should include representatives from the Student Services, Residence Life in Accommodation or other service, as appropriate. It is intended that the need for review meetings may cease after an agreed period but, if appropriate, these meetings may continue for the duration of the student’s study.
Medical, or other, evidence
7.4 If concerns are raised about a student’s fitness to study, the student is encouraged to co- operate with any reasonable request to provide medical or other evidence. A student may however decline to co-operate with that request but should be aware of 8.4, below.
7.5 The University will respect medical and other evidence provided by the student, but it is for the University and ultimately a Level 3 Panel to determine the weight to be given to any evidence presented. If, for example, a medical certificate states that a student is fit to study, it is nevertheless for the University and ultimately the Level 3 Panel to determine the weight to be given to the medical evidence in considering all of the evidence in the case.
7.6 It is expected that no cost will be incurred in providing additional evidence. Where, in exceptional circumstances, costs are incurred in sourcing medical or other evidence, these shall be met by the student, unless otherwise agreed in writing, in advance, by the University.
7.7 If a student does not provide evidence as requested, the University may nevertheless reach a decision on the case. The decision will be based on the available evidence.
8 Conflict of Interest
Staff of Student Services, or academic staff where appropriate, may offer a student therapeutic or other support during the administration of this procedure. An alternative member of the Student Services may be asked to advise University staff about the Fitness to Study Procedure. Where members of staff have been involved in supporting the student prior to the Fitness to Study procedure, this shall not in itself preclude their involvement in the fitness to Study Procedure, but staff in Student Services will exercise all reasonable care in order to avoid any potential conflict of interest which may arise.
9 Data Protection
All information gathered on individuals as part of this Fitness to Study Policy and Procedure will be processed in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998, or any successor Act.
10 Monitor and Review
Monitoring of this Fitness to Study Policy and Procedure will be undertaken by the University’s Governance and Quality Enhancement Team and Student Services.
General Assessment Regulations and Policy (including Grade Descriptors)
IMPLEMENTATION ARRANGEMENTS: REVISED ASSESSMENT REGULATIONS AND POLICY
The following assessment regulations and policy were approved by Senate in July 2018 and will operate for all programmes in Academic Year 2021/22 with the exception of the programmes listed under item 2 below.
Regulations 14.2, 14.3, 17.12, 18.2 and 18.4 will not apply to the following programmes in 2020/21 for students who commenced studies prior to 2020/21 only:
MSc Art Psychotherapy (International)
MSc Music Therapy
MSc/PgDip Occupational Therapy (pre-registration)
The programmes listed above will continue to follow the regulations dated August 2017 in terms of reassessments for students who commenced studies prior to 2020/21 only
TRANSITIONAL ARRANGEMENTS IN RESPONSE TO THE CORONAVIRUS EMERGENCY
Assessment Regulations and Policy
PART A POLICY AND PRINCIPLES
1.0 General provision for assessment and awards 2.0 Context
3.0 Purpose of assessment
4.0 Principles of assessment
5.0 Fairness, reliability and validity of assessment 6.0 Forms of assessment
PART B AWARD REGULATIONS
7.0 Marks, grades and levels of performance
9.0 Decision on award classifications and distinctions in borderline cases (undergraduate degrees) 10.0 Decision on distinctions in borderline cases (postgraduate degrees)
11.0 Decision on an award in absence of complete assessment information
12.0 Withdrawing from a module and transfer between modules
PART C ASSESSMENT REGULATIONS
15.0 Programme specific regulations
16.0 Assessment of a module
17.0 Decisions on student progression
18.0 Reassessment of a module
19.0 Assessment of disabled students and of students whose first language is not English 20.0 Penalties for word limits and late submission of assessment
PART D RESPONSIBILITIES AND EXPECTATIONS
21.0 Student responsibility in assessment
22.0 Responsibility of other individuals and bodies in assessment
23.0 Project supervision
24.0 Academic dishonesty and plagiarism
PART E APPENDICES
Undergraduate Grade Marking Criteria
Postgraduate Grade Marking Criteria
PART A POLICY AND PRINCIPLES
1.0 General provision for assessment and awards
1.1 The authority for approving programmes and granting awards rests with the Senate of Queen Margaret University. Senate is also responsible for maintaining the academic standards of these awards. One of the major mechanisms for the assurance of academic standards is the assessment of students. These regulations and policy provide the structure within which students shall be assessed and whereby their assessment contributes to the achievement of the award.
1.2 These regulations and policy shall govern all taught programmes which lead to a University award except where Senate shall determine otherwise.
1.3 Within the regulations and policy levels one, two, three and four refer to the full-time year of undergraduate study. SCQF levels refer to the academic level of study (for undergraduate programmes this is typically SCQF level 7 to 10 and for postgraduate programmes SCQF level 11). Levels one, two, three and four do not map directly onto SCQF levels, but the following will apply to the majority of modules:
Level one (first year of undergraduate study)
SCQF level 7
Level two (second year of undergraduate study)
SCQF level 8
Level three (third year of undergraduate study)
SCQF level 9
Level four (fourth year of undergraduate study)
SCQF level 10
SCQF level 11
For a part-time undergraduate student, a level typically spans more than a single academic year.
1.4 Each student is enrolled on a programme and is subject to the regulations of that programme, which in its turn is subject to the University’s overall regulations and policy.
1.5 Students are subject to registration periods which stipulate the minimum and maximum periods that they may be registered on a programme. These are detailed in the University’s Registration Regulations.
1.6 An award will be conferred upon satisfaction of the following conditions:
- the candidate was a registered student of the University at the time of their assessment and has fulfilled all financial obligations to the University;
- the candidate has completed a programme approved by the University as leading to the award being recommended;
- the award has been recommended by a Board of Examiners convened, constituted and acting under regulations approved by Senate.
1.7 Senate is the ultimate authority in the University for the ratification of academic decisions and may, in extreme circumstances, over-rule a Board of Examiners. It will normally refer matters of concern back to the Board of Examiners for reconsideration.
1.8 Acting within the above principles, a Board of Examiners will exercise its judgement in reaching decisions on individual candidates. It is responsible for interpreting the assessment regulations for the programme, in the light of the University's requirements and good practice in higher education and its academic judgement should not lightly be questioned or overturned.
2.1 The Student Experience Strategy is the key strategy for the delivery of taught programmes of study at QMU and these assessment regulations and policy should be read in conjunction with that Strategy.
2.2 Assessment is integral to the design of programmes of study leading to the award of academic credit and to the award of degrees and diplomas. Programme content is specified through regulations governing Programme Development, Modification, Monitoring and Review, available from the University’s Regulations, Policies and Procedures web page.
2.3 Assessment is the process of forming a judgment about the quality and extent of learning in relation to the intended learning outcomes of a student’s programme of study. In view of the variety of programmes, it is recognised that there is a need for a variety of forms of assessment, which should reflect the aims of that programme of study and the mode of study. Whatever the type of assessment, it should be fair, valid, reliable, useful and transparent.
2.4 In addition to its role in relation to the maintenance of academic standards, an equally important function of assessment is to develop effective student learning. In this context, it is essential that assessment is both integrated into the learning experience and that it motivates the learner.
3.0 Purpose of assessment
3.1 Assessment satisfies a number of related requirements, namely that it:
- is integrated with the process of student learning;
- demonstrates that a student has achieved the learning outcomes for their programme of study
- justifies the award of academic credit based on actual student achievement;
- provides confidence in the maintenance of academic standards both internally and to external stakeholders;
- supports the evaluation and enhancement of programme design and delivery;
- provides meaningful feedback and feedforward to students on their performance on a programme of study which promotes learning and encourages reflection;
- provides meaningful information to employers, Professional, Statutory and Regulatory Bodies and other organisations on the knowledge and competencies of a graduate;
- supports the enhancement of programme design and programme delivery.
3.2 Additionally, assessment may be used as a diagnostic tool to determine the current knowledge and skills of a student and to assist in the formulation of a programme of future study.
4.0 Principles of Assessment
4.1 Assessment regulations and policy establish a framework for the conduct of assessment across all taught programmes.
4.2 Assessment regulations and policy establish sound procedures for the advanced communication of assessment requirements (including assessment criteria), the submission, conduct of examinations, marking and moderation of assessments, the progression of students, the remediation of failure and the conduct of meetings of Boards of Examiners. The regulations and policy ensure that academic standards are maintained and that there is a retention schedule for copies of assessments and feedback on assessments.
4.3 Assessment regulations and policy are reviewed on a periodic basis to ensure that they remain fit for purpose.
4.4 As part of the procedures for the validation and review of awards, programme teams are required to develop an assessment strategy which demonstrates a close alignment with the full range of intended learning outcomes (including knowledge and understanding, intellectual skills, practical skills and transferable skills) and mode(s) of study of that programme, including the requirements of Professional, Statutory and Regulatory Bodies.
4.5 Programme assessment strategies are designed to assess all intended learning outcomes but should reduce the extent of assessment to the minimum required to demonstrate the above and should avoid duplication.
4.6 QMU is committed to principles of best practice in assessment, as established by the Advice and Guidance within the QAA Quality Code’s Assessment Theme, and any subsequent updates to that publication.
4.7 QMU is committed to the principles of equality of opportunity. Assessment regulations and procedures are designed to actively promote equality of opportunity, and to be compliant with all relevant equality legislation.
4.8 QMU subscribes to the principle of anonymous marking. Anonymous marking shall be used in assessments wherever practicable. Proposals for exemption for modules that cannot be anonymously marked will be considered through the University’s validation and review process or committee structure as appropriate.
4.9 QMU supports the principles of the award of credit and of credit transfer, as specified by the SCQF, in all of its assessment procedures.
4.10 QMU supports the recognition of, and the award of credit for, prior accredited and experiential learning as set out in the University’s Guidance on Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) found on the University’s Regulations, Policies and Procedures web page.
4.11 QMU recognises the need for transparency in the assessment of students.
4.12 QMU recognises the need for a detailed student transcript, in accordance with the European Diploma Supplement, as a means of communicating the achievement by a student.
4.13 All modules which are designed to lead to the award of academic credit are expressed in terms of learning outcomes that are capable of assessment and include details of the assessment and of the assessment criteria to be employed.
4.14 All modules which lead to the award of academic credit come under the purview of a Board of Examiners and are assigned, as appropriate, to an External Examiner.
4.15 The normal language of assessment is English, but exceptionally other languages may be used where this is described as part of the definitive document for a programme and, in these cases, the language of instruction and assessment will be clearly shown on the student transcript.
4.16 Module descriptors specify the format of assessment but, as a minimum requirement, QMU requires a student to submit a digital copy of all assessments, wherever this is practicable. This digital copy acts as the archive copy of that assessment.
Staff must make every effort to meet the QMU requirement of disseminating assessment marks and feedback to students within the following timeframe:
- Undergraduate level one and two assessment: within a maximum of 20 working days of the assessment submission.
- Undergraduate level three and four assessment (with the exception of Honours projects and dissertations): within a maximum of 15 working days of the assessment submission.
- Undergraduate Honours projects and dissertations: within a maximum of 20 working days of the assessment submission.
- Postgraduate assessment: within a maximum of 20 working days of the assessment submission.
Working days equates to Monday to Friday, excluding University closure days. The maximum of 15/20 working days includes all stages within the marking process and applies to all staff. Only in exceptional circumstances should staff exceed the 15/20 working days requirement. Where this occurs, students must be informed of the extension at least seven calendar days before the original deadline for receipt of feedback.
QMU requires staff as a minimum to submit feedback and grading for each assessment component on an appropriate pro forma (except where appropriate alternatives are provided (e.g. audio feedback). This applies to coursework and examinations. Feedback on course work will normally be individual. A digital copy of this pro forma will act as the archive copy of the feedback and grade awarded for that assessment. Pro formae are usually completed electronically and must be scanned instead, if handwritten. Standard feedback may be provided to the full cohort for an examination. However all students also have the right to request individual feedback from the Module Co-ordinator.
4.18 A copy of student assessments and the related feedback pro formae will be kept during the time that a student is matriculated, or as specified by the University’s Records Retention Schedule.
5.0 Fairness, reliability and validity of assessment
5.1 Assessment can take many different forms, as dictated by the variety of programmes and learning outcomes but, in all cases it should be:
- Fair, in that there should be equality of treatment across all programmes and that there should be a consistent approach to equality and diversity;
- Valid, that is the assessment can be shown to be relevant to the intended learning outcomes;
- Reliable, in that there should be consistency of processes and standards across the institution and that there should be comparability of both the volume and complexity of assessment in relation to credit and SCQF level;
- Useful, in that it contributes to the knowledge and competencies and employability of the learner;
- Transparent, in that the requirements of the assessment in terms of intended learning outcomes and assessment criteria are made clear to the student.
5.2 To maximise accuracy and fairness of assessment, programme teams are expected to follow the procedures for marking, moderation and blind double marking set out below. The terms ‘marking’, ‘moderation’ and ‘blind double marking’ are defined as follows:
Marking - The process of assessing students’ work, taking into account QMU guidelines for assessment feedback and the relevant criteria/mark schemes as devised by programme and/or module teams.
Moderation - The process of confirming the consistency of the mark and feedback provided by the original marker(s).
Blind double marking - Marking conducted without access to marks, annotations or comments from any other marker. Both markers must use the relevant criteria and provide feedback to students in the agreed format.
5.3 Where there are differences between first and second markers, these should be resolved through a process of discussion and negotiation. On occasions where such differences cannot be resolved through this method, the case will be referred to a third marker. A single agreed mark is provided to the student as an outcome of the above procedures.
5.4 If appropriate, Examiners may adjust the raw marks attained by students in individual subjects, but the basis of the scaling must be reported to the Board of Examiners who will be asked to endorse the scaling.
5.5 All assessed work should have associated marking criteria. These guides to marking should be developed simultaneously with assessment instruments and, where practicable, be approved by the External Examiner. Sharing of approved marking criteria with students is a required feature of good practice. All feedback given to students should relate to the agreed marking criteria.
5.6 Internal moderation
5.6.1 All elements of assessments for Honours projects and postgraduate dissertations (or equivalent) at SCQF levels 9, 10, 11and 12 must be blind double-marked for the whole cohort.
5.6.2 All summative assessments for undergraduate and postgraduate programmes that are not blind-double marked must be moderated on a sampling basis as a means of verifying the accuracy of marking. The size of the sample to be moderated must be at least the square root of the total number of students (rounded to the nearest whole number) taking the assessment plus all borderline fails (those that are within 2% below the pass mark). The sample should include a range of performance and the minimum size should be six pieces of assessed work.
5.7 External Examiner moderation
5.7.1 A sample as outlined above will be reviewed by External Examiners for assessment leading to a named award.
5.7.2 External Examiners will normally only be required to moderate samples for an individual module once per academic year. They will not normally be required to moderate samples for reassessments or multiple occurrences of the module provided the mode of assessment and marking team remain unchanged from the original assessment. The Board of Examiners will determine whether the External Examiner will be required to moderate additional samples for reassessment or an additional occurrence of the module.
5.7.3 It is the responsibility of the Module Co-ordinator to select the sample to be reviewed by the External Examiner. This need not be the same sample used for internal moderation.
5.7.4 Further information on External Examiner arrangements for collaborative programmes can be found in the Collaborations Manual.
5.7.5 In circumstances where an External Examiner has concerns about the submitted marks for a sample of assessments, the External Examiner may not modify one or more marks of the sample group of students but must review the marks of the whole cohort. External Examiners may make recommendations only on the adjustment of marks. It is the responsibility of the Programme Team to consider these recommendations and take a final decision on the student mark.
5.8 Responsibility for Assessment
5.8.1 In all cases Module Co-ordinators have responsibility for the conduct and quality control of assessment in their own module(s). Programme Leaders are deemed responsible for the quality of assessment across programmes and are accountable to the Head of Division through the Programme Committee. Deans of School have responsibility for assessment regulations and policy and staff development (as it affects assessment) within the parameters set by the University and any relevant Professional, Statutory and Regulatory Bodies. It is expected, however, that this responsibility will be delegated to Heads of Division.
5.8.2 School Offices are responsible for the maintenance and retention of records of all provisional marks. The Student Records Office and the School Office under the direction of the Assistant Secretary, Registry and Academic Administration, will maintain a central archive of approved final marks.
6.0 Forms of assessment
6.2 The module descriptor specifies the relative assessment pattern, including weightings across components. The assessment pattern must be based on the intended learning outcomes of that module.
6.3 Normally assessment will relate to some or all of the learning outcomes of a single module. Where an assessment covers learning outcomes from two or more modules, this must be clearly described in the module descriptors and the method of attributing marks to each module should be clearly defined.
6.4 At the commencement of each module the Module Co-ordinator must advise the enrolled students of the form of the assessment and the timing of the components which make up the assessment. This will be consistent with the overall framework established for the programme’s assessment, as specified in the module descriptors.
6.5 At the start of each programme, Programme Leaders will refer students to the assessment regulations for the programme governing progression and award, and of any changes thereto.
6.6 The University operates a Student Attendance Policy which can be found on the University’s Regulations, Policies and Procedures web page.
Additional attendance and participation conditions may be in place for some programmes, but must be made clear to students. Implications of non-attendance in terms of eligibility to undertake assessments must also be made clear. These must be approved through the University’s validation and review process or committee structure as appropriate.
PART B 7.0 AWARD REGULATIONS
7.0 Marks, grades and levels of performance
7.1 Assessment is primarily a matter of academic judgement, and the computational structure is designed to facilitate consistent judgements.
The full range of marks should be used in accordance with the grade descriptors in Appendix E
7.2 A student’s overall performance on an undergraduate module will be given marks within one of eight grades as follows:
Corresponding level in an Honours degree classification
80% - 100%
70% - 79.9%
60 – 69.9%
50 – 59.9%
40 – 49.9%
30 – 39.9%
0 – 29.9%
7.3 A student’s overall performance on a postgraduate module will be given marks within one of eight grades as follows:
Corresponding level in an Honours degree classification
80% - 100%
70% - 79.9%
60 – 69.9%
50 – 59.9%
40 – 49.9%
30 – 39.9%
7.4 These grades should be used in a consistent fashion at all levels of assessment whether it is judging a student’s overall performance; a cohort’s performance, a module grade, or a piece of assessed coursework.
7.5 The criteria for each of the grades above are listed in the Appendices.
7.6 Normally subjects will be assessed using marks and grades. However, in exceptional circumstances subjects may be assessed using grades only. This will be recorded in programme specific regulations.
7.7 If an undergraduate subject is assessed using a grade only, then the following grade-to-mark conversion scheme shall be used for the purposes of computation:
If a postgraduate subject is assessed using a grade only, then the following grade-to-mark conversion scheme shall be used for the purpose of computation.
In most cases, the mark is set at the midpoint of the band. However, the mark at Grade A* is limited to 85 to reflect the comparatively few marks likely to be awarded over 90%.
8.1 To gain an undergraduate award, a student must normally be a registered student at the University for at least one academic year. Minimum registration periods for postgraduate awards are set out in the University’s Registration Regulations
To qualify for the following awards the student must fulfil the subject specific requirements for the name of the award and also:
Cert HE - 120 credit points of which a minimum of 100 are at SCQF level 7 or higher
Dip HE - 240 credit points of which a minimum of 100 are at SCQF level 8 or higher
Degree - 360 credit points of which a minimum of 100 are at SCQF level 9 or higher
Honours Degree - 480 credit points of which a minimum of 220 are at SCQF level 9 or higher and 10, included at least 100 at level 10
Graduate Certificate - 60 credit points, at minimum of SCQF level 9
Postgraduate Certificate - 60 credit points of which a minimum of 40 are at SCQF level 11 and no credits below SCQF level 10
Masters Degree - 180 credit points of which a minimum of 160 are at SCQF Level 11 and no credits below SCQF level 10
Integrated Masters - 600 credit points of which a minimum of 120 are at SCQF level 11
Students may take credits from the SCQF level directly above or directly below subject to the guidance set out above and as defined in relevant documentation.
Ten SCQF Credits are equivalent to five European Credits (ECTS) therefore 120 SCQF credits equal 60 ECTS
8.2 The classification of the award of the Degree with Honours will be based on the marks obtained in SCQF level 9 (20%) and SCQF level 10 (80%). Weighted aggregate scores will be rounded to one decimal place. The classification will be based upon the average mark obtained by combining the weighted results of all modules studied at SCQF levels 9 and 10. Any modules undertaken below SCQF level 9 and any modules taken whilst on an exchange arrangement will not be counted towards the Honours calculation.
Where a student has accumulated more than 120 credits at SCQF level 10, a maximum of 120 credits will be counted at SCQF level 10 for the purpose of the Honours calculation. All core modules at SCQF level 10 will count towards the Honours classification. The optional modules in which the student achieved the highest marks will be included in the calculation of the Honours classification. Additional optional modules at SCQF level 10 with lower marks will be counted towards SCQF level 9.
- 70 and above - First Class
- ≥60% and <70% - Second Class: Upper division
- ≥50% and <60% - Second Class Lower division
- ≥40% and <50% - Third Class
8.3 The award of an Ordinary Degree can include an award with distinction, in cases where the average mark for the 120 credits (or equivalent) at SCQF level 9 or above is 65% or higher. Any modules undertaken below SCQF level 9 and any modules taken whilst on an exchange arrangement will not be counted towards the distinction calculation
8.4 The award of taught Masters Degrees and Postgraduate Diplomas may include an award with distinction or merit. The award of Postgraduate Certificate is without distinction or merit.
A distinction is granted automatically if the weighted average mark (each module being weighted in relation to its size) - is 70% or over.
A merit is granted automatically if the weighted average mark (each module being weighted in relation to its size) - is 60% or over.
Only modules undertaken at SCQF level 11 will be used in the calculation for distinction or merit.
8.5 When granted an award a student will automatically be de-registered and must reapply if they wish to proceed to a higher or different award.
Where a student is admitted to the University at level four the classification will be based entirely on grades achieved during level four studies.
8.7 Where a student is admitted to a level and given additional credit at that level gained externally, the grades from that credit may contribute to the classification where the credit is at the appropriate SCQF level and where marks are available. Otherwise the classification will be based on grades gained entirely within the University. Any modules taken whilst on an exchange arrangement will not be counted towards the classification.
9.0 Decision on award classifications and distinctions in borderline cases (undergraduate degrees)
9.1 All weighted average marks falling 0.5 per cent or less below the classification or distinction boundary are automatically reclassified at the higher level.
9.2 All weighted average marks falling between 0.6 per cent and two percent below the classification or distinction boundary are deemed borderline cases.
9.3 For Honours degrees the final classification is determined by the marks across all SCQF level 10 credits. Borderline cases where any 60 or more credits (core or elective modules) are achieved in the classification above the boundary will be awarded the higher classification of degree.
9.4 For Ordinary degrees the final award is determined by the marks across SCQF level 9 credits. Borderline cases where any 60 or more credits (core or elective modules) are achieved in the distinction category (65% or above) will be awarded the degree with distinction.
9.5 Additional viva voce examinations involving the External Examiner should not be used in the consideration of borderline cases.
10.0 Decision on distinctions in borderline cases (postgraduate degrees)
10.1 All weighted average marks falling 0.5 per cent or less below the distinction/merit boundary are automatically reclassified at the higher level.
10.2 All weighted average marks falling between 0.6 per cent and two percent below the distinction/merit boundary are deemed borderline cases. In these cases the award of distinction/merit is determined by consideration of marks across all SCQF level 11 credits contributing to the Programme.
10.3 For standard 180 credit Masters programmes, borderline cases where 90 credits or more (core or elective modules) at SCQF level 11 are marked at 70% or above will be awarded the distinction.
For standard 180 credit Masters programmes, borderline cases where 90 credits or more (core or elective modules) at SCQF level 11 are marked at 60% or above will be awarded the merit.
10.4 For standard 120 credit Postgraduate Diploma programmes, borderline cases where 60 credits or more (core or elective modules) at SCQF level 11 are marked at 70% or above will be awarded the distinction.
For standard 120 credit Postgraduate Diploma programmes, borderline cases where 60 credits or more (core or elective modules) at SCQF level 11 are marked at 60% or above will be awarded the merit.
10.5 For non-standard Postgraduate Diploma and Masters programmes, i.e. Postgraduate Diploma Programmes rated at more than 120 credits, or Masters programmes rated at more than 180 credits, borderline cases where 50% or more of the total credits at SCQF level 11 are marked at 70% or above will be awarded the distinction. Exceptionally, programme specific regulations may be defined for such programmes, to be agreed at the point of validation or review.
For non-standard Postgraduate Diploma and Masters Programmes, i.e. Postgraduate Diploma programmes rated at more than 120 credits, or Masters programmes rated at more than 180 credits, borderline cases where 50% or more of the total credits at SCQF level 11 are marked at 60% or above will be awarded the merit. Exceptionally, programme specific regulations may be defined for such programmes, to be agreed at the point of validation or review.
10.6 Additional viva voce examinations involving the External Examiner should not be used in the consideration of borderline cases.
11.0 Decision on an award in absence of complete assessment information
11.1 Boards of Examiners have discretion to make an award in the absence of complete assessment information where it is established to the satisfaction of the Board of Examiners that:
such absence is due to a valid documented cause, which would include, but not be limited to, a student’s illness;
there is enough evidence of the student's achievement at the level at which they are being examined, which would normally equate to two thirds of the assessable work at that level, or evidence is subsequently obtained.
Where Boards of Examiners use their discretion to make an award in the absence of complete assessment information, the justification for this action should be included in the minutes of the meeting.
Awards may be recommended with or without Honours or distinction as appropriate. In order to reach such a decision the Board of Examiners may assess the candidate by any appropriate and reasonable means. Any such assessment will for the purpose of these regulations be deemed a first assessment.
The Board of Examiners has a duty to gain as much information about the candidate’s ability and performance as possible before making decisions.
Decisions made in the absence of complete information must aim to ensure consistency of standard and equality of opportunity for the student under consideration as compared with their peers. The student must not be put in a position of unfair advantage over other candidates for the award.
12.0 Withdrawing from a module and transfer between modules
12.1 A student withdrawing from a module up to the point at which 25% of the taught duration of the module has been delivered may provide the Module Co-ordinator with a written explanation of reasons for withdrawal. If the Module Co-ordinator accepts these as valid reasons, the student will suffer no academic penalty, i.e. the withdrawal will not count as a fail. The student will receive a transcript showing them as withdrawn and will receive no credit.
12.2 A student withdrawing from a module after 25% of the taught duration will be recorded as a fail.
12.3 A student wishing to transfer from one elective module to another will normally be permitted to do so within the first 25% of the taught duration of the module subject to the consent of both Module Co-ordinators. Only exceptionally will students be permitted to transfer between elective modules after this period.
The student’s assessment record or academic transcript shall specify for each module taken:
- the title;
- the credit points and the level;
- the academic year in which most recently taken;
- the grade and mark most recently obtained;
- the name of the University together with, if appropriate, the name of any other
- institution sharing responsibility for the student’s programme of study or research;
- the location of study;
- the language of instruction/assessment;
- decision on progress/award.
Academic transcripts are issued online following Boards of Examiners. They are issued on secure paper to exiting students.
The University’s transcript meets the requirements of the European Diploma Supplement.
Guidance on European Credit Points is provided for all students receiving transcripts in the accompanying Guidance Notes.
PART C ASSESSMENT REGULATIONS
For the purposes of these regulations the following definitions shall apply:
A component is defined as an individual piece of assessment, for example an examination or an essay. Some modules will have one assessment component only. Others may have multiple components.
Reassessment means the opportunity to be reassessed in an assessment component which has been failed. The timing of the reassessment is at the discretion of the Board of Examiners but must allow the student sufficient time to prepare. Normally reassessment (as a second attempt) happens within the same academic year or shortly thereafter.
A student will be permitted a maximum of three attempts at any module. i.e. attempt one plus two reassessment attempts. Attempt three may be undertaken in the following academic year subject to progression regulations.
14.3 Condonement of a module
Condonement of a module may occur where a student has not achieved a minimum pass mark in an undergraduate module at SCQF level 7 or SCQF level 8 and there are no programme specific assessment regulations that require the student to be reassessed.
15.0 Programme specific regulations
It is expected that programme specific regulations will be consistent with the University’s general assessment regulations.
Programmes may only apply more specific regulations where it is an explicit requirement of a professional body or where an explicit justification has been given as part of the formal validation process . Any exceptions must be approved through the validation or committee approval process and be clearly recorded in the programme document or relevant module descriptor.
Programme specific regulations for progression and award are written in the context of the University’s general assessment regulations; they should be interpreted in that context and, where they are silent, the University’s general assessment regulations are taken to apply. Programme specific regulations may cover the following points:
- the requirements for passing a module;
- modules which are not eligible for condonement
- the requirements for progression;
- the conditions and limits to the provision for reassessment of modules;
- the conditions and limits to the provision for repeating a level;
- the conditions under which a student shall be required to withdraw from the programme.
16.0 Assessment of a module
16.1 To pass an undergraduate module, a student must obtain at least 40% overall, and at least 30% in each component of assessment unless otherwise specified in the programme document or module descriptor. To pass a postgraduate module, a student must obtain at least 50% overall, and at least 40% in each component of assessment unless otherwise specified in the programme document or module descriptor. This regulation applies to the first attempt at the module only. Regulations for reassessment of modules are detailed below and in 14.2 above.
16.2 Where a student has achieved an overall mark of 40% or above (50% for postgraduate modules) but has fallen below the minimum permitted mark in an individual component, this will be shown as a qualifying fail on the academic transcript with a grade of Q.