What happens if I breach academic integrity?
If a Monash staff member suspects you’ve breached the Assessment and Academic Integrity Policy, they must report this to the Chief Examiner of your unit. The Chief Examiner will then investigate whether there’s evidence of a breach and, if so, decide what type of breach. The more serious the breach, the more serious the penalty.
Types of Academic Integrity Breaches
Suspected breaches of academic integrity are categorised into two types:
- A minor breach (neither intentional nor reckless) is driven by poor academic practice. It is determined by ascertaining evidence of whether the breach was the result of poor practice.
- A more serious breach (academic misconduct) is when there is evidence that a student sought to gain an unfair academic advantage for themselves or others. These types of breaches are considered academic misconduct and include cases of suspected fraud or contract cheating.
These breaches may include plagiarism, collusion, fraud, contract cheating and a number of other unacceptable behaviours (see glossary of terms).
Although academic integrity breaches typically happen in assessments, they may also arise in other ways, e.g. when you improperly distribute unit materials to other students.
If an investigation finds that you’ve taken part in an academically dishonest activity, this could interfere with both your enrolment and employability. The penalty will reflect the seriousness of the breach.
A breach can only be minor if you have no previous records of breaches on the academic integrity register. If the academic integrity register shows a past breach, your current breach will be considered serious.
How does the academic integrity breach investigation process work?
A suspected breach of academic integrity will be reported to the Chief Examiner of a unit.
They will investigate the report and decide if there is evidence of the breach and whether the evidence points to the breach being minor or more serious.
During the investigation:
- The Chief Examiner will send you a Notice of Suspected Breach. The Notice will outline the suspected breach and provide you with an opportunity to respond to it by filling out the Student Response form.
- The Chief Examiner may also ask to meet with you to discuss the report.
- You will have five business days to respond to the breach to ensure the matter is investigated in a timely manner. It is always a good idea to respond to the Notice if you receive one, as it is your opportunity to provide your version of events.
- After considering your response, the Chief Examiner will decide whether an academic integrity breach has occurred and if it has, what type of breach it is.
What to do if you receive a Notice of Suspected Breach
Get advice from a student advocate
We strongly recommend that you get advice about your rights from a student advocate at your relevant student association. Student advocates can help you prepare your response and accompany you to any meeting as a support person.
Your student association will provide free support and advice that’s completely independent of the University.
Respond to the Notice
A Notice of Suspected Breach outlines the alleged breach of academic integrity and presents supporting evidence. You’ll have an opportunity to respond within five business days by filling out the Student Response form, which will be sent to you.
You can either admit or deny the alleged breach:
- If you admit to the breach, explain the circumstances leading to it and why you believe the breach happened. You should also briefly describe your academic history, the impact the investigation has had on you, and what you plan to do to correct this situation.
- If you do not admit to the breach, explain why you believe you haven’t breached academic integrity requirements. Provide details and any evidence to support your explanation.
If you don’t respond to the Notice, or fail to attend a meeting when invited, a decision will be made without hearing your version of events.
What are the possible outcomes of an investigation?
The Chief Examiner’s investigation has three possible outcomes:
The Chief Examiner may decide that you haven’t breached and dismiss the report. Marking of your work will recommence and your case won’t appear in the academic integrity register.
The Chief Examiner may find that your breach is minor. They will point out how your poor academic practice has led to this breach. They will also remind you of the importance of academic integrity and refer you to support services to improve your practice.
The Chief Examiner will mark your work fairly. This means they’ll disregard the part affected by the academic integrity breach and mark everything else. Alternatively, they can allow you to resubmit your work for a maximum mark of Pass (50%).
You’ll be placed on the academic integrity register for seven years and warned of potential consequences if you breach academic integrity again.
If the Chief Examiner believes that you’ve committed a more serious breach of academic integrity, they must refer the matter to Student Conduct and Complaints as a report of academic misconduct.
You’ll receive a Notice of Allegation of Academic Misconduct, and a copy of supporting evidence. You’ll get an additional opportunity to explain the circumstances of the breach before a decision is made. In some cases, allegations may be referred to a Student Misconduct Panel.
Penalties depend on the seriousness of the breach and whether you’ve been counselled before. They include:
- a zero mark for the assessment task
- a zero mark for the unit
- suspension from the course
- exclusion from the University.
A penalty will appear on the academic integrity register for seven years, or for 15 years when the penalty is exclusion.