Discipline Process

The University of Alberta is dedicated to the principles outlined on this site. Because we demand honesty, trust, fairness, respect and responsibility from our students, we are called upon to model those values. In addition, we are required to ensure a fair process when addressing academic dishonesty. The Code stipulates procedures from reporting an offence through to the final appeal. These procedures are designed to ensure that all students are treated fairly as they go through the discipline process. They also protect instructors from uncertainty and, when followed properly, they may protect the University from litigation.

The Code begins with rights afforded to the students, including the right to an advisor, the right to know the case against oneself and to respond to the allegations, the right to an unbiased decision maker, and the right to be presumed innocent until a finding has been made on balance of probabilities. Instructors are advised to become familiar with these rights to ensure that these principles are followed.

When in doubt, it’s best to consult on the process. Both Student Conduct and Accountability and the Office of the Student Ombuds are available to provide information on the discipline process. Because they are an impartial service, the Office of the Student Ombuds can provide information and advice on procedure to instructors as well as to students.

The Process

The discipline process is defined by the type of allegation: academic misconduct or non-academic misconduct. 

The Code is amended periodically to reflect new policies. Always check the Code online for the most up to date information. The following documents are a summary only.

Accused Under the Code

If you are facing charges under the Code, you will be informed of the allegations against you and given the opportunity to meet with the Discipline Officer to respond to those allegations. You can provide evidence in person and/or in writing, and request that the Discipline Officer pursue additional lines of inquiry.

Complaints Under the Code

While you may have already made a statement or provided information to Protective Services or a Dean regarding your complaint, the Discipline Officer may request to meet with you to get additional details or clarify the information you already provided. 

Providing Information Under a Code Investigation

On occasion, the Discipline Officer has to confirm, verify or gather additional information relating to Code of Student Behaviour charges. When you are contacted as a witness, you may be asked questions specific to what you saw, heard, or otherwise know. You will not necessarily be given any information about what is being investigated, but your assistance may be crucial in ensuring the right decision is ultimately made.

Who Can Sanction Students

For the purposes of this website, the term “academic misconduct” includes plagiarism, cheating, misrepresentation of facts for academic advantage and participation in (or aiding and abetting) one of the above offences.

The following is a summary of the players involved, and their roles in a case of academic misconduct:
  • 1. Teaching Assistant

    May discover academic misconduct while grading assignments, papers or exams or while proctoring an exam.

    Is required to bring suspicions to the attention of the Instructor.

  • 2. Instructor

    Collects information and evidence related to suspicions or allegations of academic misconduct.

    Meets with the student involved.

    Is required to report all academic misconduct to the Dean. 

    Is not authorized to impose sanctions for academic misconduct.

  • 3. Dean, or designate (often an Associate Dean)

    Receives all complaints related to student academic misconduct in the Faculty.

    Meets with the student involved.

    Makes a finding on whether the student violated the Code.

    Is authorized to impose “Intermediate Sanctions”, that is, sanctions related to grades in that course (either on the relevant assignment or in the course itself), as well as notations on the student’s transcript.

    Functions to ensure that decisions throughout the Faculty (regardless of department) are consistent.

    May recommend “Severe Sanctions”, that is, sanctions that interrupt a student’s program (i.e., suspension or expulsion) to the Discipline Officer.

    Decisions can be appealed the University Appeal Board.

  • 4. Discipline Officer (D.O.)

    Receives a recommendation from a Dean for Severe Sanctions.

    Meets with the student involved.

    Makes decision on whether to impose a Severe Sanction.

    Functions to ensure that decisions involving Severe Sanctions are consistent across the University.

    Decisions can be appealed by the student or the Dean to the University Appeal Board.

  • 5. University Appeal Board (UAB)

    Avenue for appeal on any decision under the Code by the Dean and/or Discipline Officer.

    A student or the Faculty (in the case of a decision of a Discipline Officer) can appeal a finding or the severity of sanction.

    Offers a re-hearing of the entire case.

    Final and binding decision.

Note: the more severe the consequences to a student, the more processes are involved.

The structure in place is designed to provide a fair process for the accused student, as required by law, as well as consistent decisions (without resorting to a precedent-based system) across Faculties and the University. It also functions to allow instructors to focus on their teaching and preserving a positive relationship with their students rather than becoming disciplinarians.