Academic dishonesty involves any attempt to gain academic advantage by doing something misleading or unfair. Allegations about academic dishonesty can regard a variety of different actions, and the penalties can be very serious, including a fail for the assessment or a fail for the entire subject.

In certain situations, an allegation of academic dishonesty can also be referred to the registrar to investigate potential misconduct. This is far more serious, and the penalties can be much harsher, including suspension from the Uni for one or more semesters.

If you receive an allegation of academic dishonesty from the University, you will need to make a formal response to the allegation. Make sure you carefully check the due date of this response in the letter from the Uni. You can respond by either attending a meeting (this may be in person or via video call) or by submitting a written response.

The University will send you a formal letter outlining the alleged incident. Take the time to read this letter carefully and to look at the evidence supplied by the Uni. You should be provided with:

  • a clear outline of the nature of the allegation;
  • all evidence relating to the allegation should be attached (this may be a copy of your assignment with problematic sections highlighted or a copy of the report made by the exam invigilator);
  • an opportunity to respond in writing as well as notice to attend a meeting, and specific timelines for these responses;
  • the name of the faculty’s Education Integrity Coordinator or Nominated Academic handling your case

If you feel able to, attend a meeting to respond to the allegation. Attending the meeting gives you the chance to engage in dialogue and clarify things on the spot. If you do plan to attend the meeting, it is a good idea to draft a written response to use as a scaffold so that you do not forget anything that you want to say.

The University does not need to prove anything ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’. They only need to decide what is most likely on the balance of probabilities. That is, would a person believe your explanation or think that it is more likely that you engaged in academic dishonesty.

The Uni will seek a believable answer to its questions, such as how did certain words from other sources come to be in your assignment without references, or why did your head move out of frame during a ProctorU exam. Our advice is always to be very honest with them. If you invent an explanation and they do not believe you this may well lead to worse outcomes, as well as an unpleasant meeting.

SRC Caseworkers are here to help and provide you advice in this situation. Email us for advice at help@src.usyd.edu.au or call 9660 5222 to make an appointment.


Further Reading: See our section on Academic dishonesty & plagiarism allegation