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Academic Integrity Breach
Fitness to Practice Tips (Undergraduate/Taught)

What is Fitness to Practice?

If you are registered on a professional course, then you are expected to adhere to certain professional standards and this set of regulations aims to address issues of professional suitability and professional misconduct. A full list of courses that are affected by these regulations, together with procedures can be found here.

The policy aims to protect patients/clients, children, vulnerable adults, and aims to protect public confidence.

A concern about your Fitness to Practice can be raised by anyone either from inside or outside the university and it can relate to concerns about your own health, your behavior on line or in social settings, as well as your conduct at university and on placement.

It is also your responsibility to notify your course leader of any change in your circumstances which you think may impact on your fitness to practice. The university will be supportive to your health but their overriding concern has to be to protect the public.

Any concerns will be passed to your course leader who will decide whether to start an investigation. There are 4 stages to the process.

Stage 1 – School level investigation

Someone without prior involvement in the case will investigate the matter to establish the facts. They will meet with you and other relevant parties before writing a report for the Dean of your school. The outcome of a stage 1 investigation can either be No case to answer or referral to stage 2. (or stage 3 if considered very serious)

Stage 2 – School level cause for concern

You will be given 5 working days notice of this hearing. You need to make sure that any witnesses are free to attend as well. The panel will consist of a senior member of staff, a member of academic staff from the school and an SU officer. There may also be the investigator, the course leader, witnesses, a note taker and yourself and your supporter. The outcome at this stage can include no case to answer, a record that a non serious breach has occurred or referral to Stage 3.

Stage 3 – University level fitness to practice hearing

This stage is for more serious breaches. You will be given 5 working days notice, again, you need to warn witnesses they need to attend. The panel will consist of FTP lead from another school, external practitioner, member of academic staff and an SU officer plus additional people as before. You will be notified of the decision within 5 working days of the hearing. Outcomes can range from a warning, conditions being imposed, restrictions, permanent withdrawal from the course or from university.

Preparing for your meeting?

Book a meeting with an SU adviser as soon as you receive the email so that we can help you to prepare your case. We can also accompany you to any meetings as support.

Read the report that has been sent to you in conjunction with the Fitness to Practice regulations so that you understand what the allegation is and why it has been made. This is a learning environment but your school will want to know that you understand why the breach has to be taken seriously, that you understand the effect on service users / public confidence etc.

Give the panel confidence that you have learnt from your mistake.

Explain why they can be confident that it will not happen again.

If you have had any personal problems going on which may have impacted on your studies / decision making abilities at the time, gather evidence to present to the panel. Remember that you need to consider that as a professional, recognizing your own ill health is important and explain why this will not happen again.

Remember to redact service users’ names from any evidence you supply, do not share personal information about service users or any means of identifying them as this in itself can constitute a breach of FTP.

Do I need to attend the meeting?

The university expect you to attend the meeting but if there is a genuine reason, which can be evidenced beforehand, the meeting may be postponed on one occasion.

If you do not attend then the hearing will go ahead without you and a decision will be made in your absence. You can send a statement in 2 days before the hearing to be read in your absence but remember that you will not be present for the panel to ask you any questions.

What happens after the meeting?

The university can make a decision and apply penalties at any stage in the procedure. You can appeal these decisions at any stage.

You must have grounds for appeal and these include: Material irregularity, unreasonable decisions, bias, the penalty was disproportionate, EC’s that you couldn’t declare at the time. You cannot appeal solely on disagreement with the severity of the penalty. You will need to complete an Appeal form and submit it within 10 working days from issue of the outcome. A decision will be made within 20 working days whether to uphold the decision or whether another hearing will be held with a different panel.

The SU advice team can discuss your options and guide you through the process.

Contact us at advice-centre@hud.ac.uk or by phoning 01484 473446  to book an appointment.