We know that making a report of a GBV or misconduct can be really challenging. We have advisers on campus that are here to listen, and believe, everyone who makes a disclosure. It is important to know that you are never to blame for what has happened to you, it is always the responsibility of the perpetrator. You have the right to feel safe and supported.
How to make a Report to the University
There are several ways you can report GBV to the university.
The University will never ask you to sign a document, or statement, that means you cannot discuss what has happened to you with anyone else. These documents, often called NDA's (Non-disclosure agreements) are not part of the University approach to managing cases and we are signatories to a sector wide commitment in Scotland not to use them.
The University was proud to work with the sector on creating a joint statement in 2019 prohibiting the use of NDA (non-disclosure agreements) and confidentiality clauses in cases of harassment. This statement was signed up to by all Scottish institutions at the time and remains in place today. As outlined in the statement:
“Scottish universities do not use confidentiality clauses to prevent victims of harassment from speaking out. It is critical that all our staff and students are safe and supported, and we would consider any such use of confidentiality clauses to be wholly unacceptable”.
The University will never attempt to silence a victim or survivor from speaking out about their experiences as they proceed through any University process in relation to their support.
The full statement can be found on the Universities Scotland website.
Code of Practice on Student Discipline (non-academic)
Within our University community, we want to foster a safe and inclusive environment for learning and working and we are committed to having a fair and transparent reporting process for everyone. If you have experienced GBV and would like to formally report this, you may be able to do so under our Code of Practice on Student Discipline (non-academic) (also known as “The Code”). To access a student-friendly guide to The Code, please click here.
- What is the Code of Practice on Student Discipline (non-academic)?
The Code sets out what the University considers to be ‘misconduct’, what the process of investigation is for students who report misconduct or are reported to have engaged in misconduct under the Code, and the different outcomes that may follow an investigation. “Misconduct” refers to any behaviour which can cause material damage, physical harm, emotional upset, mental harm or threaten the safety of anyone involved. All forms of GBV constitute non-academic misconduct.
Who does the code apply to?
- Students on a break from study
When does the code apply?
You can report an incident of GBV under The Code if it meets at least one of the following criteria:
- It takes places on a University premises.
- It is carried out by a student or staff member engaged on a University activity.
- It targets, or directly impacts members of the University community.
- It relates to a serious criminal offence or activity that could bring the University into disrepute.
- Who can be involved in an investigation under the Code?
- Reported Party: the alleged perpetrator
- Reporting party: the person who alerts the University to the incident(s)
- Impacted Party: Someone who has been directed impacted by the incident(s) but may, or may not have, reported it.
- Case Manager: Member of staff who oversees the administration of the report from beginning to end and coordinates each stage of the review process.
- Witness: Someone who can provide information during an investigation. They may or may not have been directly impacted by the incident(s).
- Investigator: Member of staff appointed to investigate the alleged incident(s) and determine if misconduct has occurred.
- Review Panel: The group who will hear appeals and contribute to decision making regarding the outcome of an investigation.
- Supporter: Someone who attends investigation meetings to support any of the attendees.
- What is the investigation process?
What is the process?
- Initial Review
- Review Panel (where applicable)
The reported GBV is considered by the Case Manager who decides whether it meets the requirements of The Code. If so, an investigation will begin, and any immediate safety concerns will be addressed following discussion with senior staff in Student Support.
If not, the case will not progress and an alternative process may be used (e.g., Complaints Handling Process, Fitness to Practice Process). If the reporting party is not satisfied with the outcome of the initial review, they can appeal this.
In cases of urgency, the Principal (or Senior Vice-Principal or University secretary) shall have the power to authorise immediate action to temporarily exclude or suspend the reported party from accessing campus locations (including University accommodation) or to limit their ability to remain a registered student.
As informally as possible, the Investigator will establish the facts of what has happened by speaking with any parties they feel are appropriate. Examples of conclusions that the Investigator may reach are as follows:
- Dismiss the report of misconduct and close the case (please note, reporting and/or reported parties can still receive support should this be the case).
- Decide that, although misconduct is likely to have occurred, the matter has now been resolved through actions taken by the reported party since the misconduct occurred.
- Decide that misconduct did occur, and an outcome will be recommended to the reported party. If the reported party accepts this outcome, the case will be closed. If they do not accept this outcome, the investigation will proceed to a Review Panel. If the outcome would interrupt the reported party’s student status, a Review Panel will always be held.
- Decide that misconduct did occur, and the case should proceed to a Review Panel – this would be relevant if the Investigator believes that an outcome that interrupts the reported party’s registration is required.
The reporting party will always be informed of the outcome of an investigation.
REVIEW PANEL (if applicable)
The review panel will be convened by a member of the Disciplinary Investigation Group, along with two other panel members (one of whom will be a student representative) and can take place in person or virtually. Where a case of misconduct involves alleged sexual or personal violence, an impacted party will not be expected to share space with the reported party.
The panel will examine and discuss relevant information before inviting the reported party to make a statement, ask any questions they might have, and state whether they admit or deny the case of misconduct put forward against them. The convener will conclude the review panel by outlining next steps the panel may need to take, and letting the reported party know the expected timeframe for an outcome to be issued.
A reported party can appeal any decision made throughout the investigation process if there are valid grounds to do so. Specific grounds for appeal are outlined within the full Code of Practice on Student Discipline (non-academic).
- What is the investigation timeline?
Stage 1: Initial Review – 1 week
- Completed within 5 working days of the case being raised with a Case Manager.
Stage 2: Investigation – 2 weeks
- Decision will be reached within 10 working days of the initial referral from a Case Manager.
- Review panel will normally be organised within 10 days of it being requested by an Investigator.
Stage 3: Review Panel – 2 weeks
- From start to finish, the review panel will be completed within 10 working days.
- 72 hours before the review panel, all parties involved will be given a copy of the relevant papers.
- Decision of the review panel will be communicated to the reported party within 5 working days.
Stage 4: Appeal – 2 weeks
- A reported party has 10 days to appeal a review panel decision.
The average length of time a formal investigation of non-academic misconduct takes is 3-7 weeks.
Please note, the timescales listed above are approximate and are subject to change on a case-by-case basis.
- Burden of Proof
The Burden of Proof used for investigations under The Code is the “balance of probabilities”. This means that any outcome will be based on whether the reported misconduct is more likely than not to have taken place, based on the information provided by all parties during the investigation. This is different to the burden of proof used in criminal justice investigations (“beyond reasonable doubt”).
- What are the potential outcomes of an investigation?
Examples of outcomes that can be put in place for the reported party after the Initial Investigation:
- Write a reflective letter outlining steps that will be taken to change behaviour.
- Cover the cost over any damages or fees incurred by the University as a result of misconduct.
- Make direct payment to any party who has experienced a financial loss as a result of misconduct.
- Undertake a relevant training course.
- Temporary exclusion from campus locations, activities or services (less than one month)
- Move rooms if living in University accommodation.
- Cease contact with the reporting party or any other named individual or group of people.
Examples of outcomes that can be put in place for the reported party after the Review Panel:
- More permanent exclusion from campus locations, activities or services (more than one month).
- Suspension from study for up to 12 months.
- Expulsion from the University (this requires approval from the Principal).
- Exclusion from University accommodation.
What does the University mean by….
Students who are expelled are not allowed to attend the University or engage with any University activities. They are not typically eligible to re-admit unless a request is made to and approved by the Senior Management Team.
Students who are suspended are not allowed to attend the University or engage with any University activities for a set period of time. Exceptions may be made if, for example, a suspended student needs to sit an on-campus exam.
Students who are excluded will be restricted from attending or accessing the University or any of its services, locations, or activities. This may extend to restriction on access to other places such as hospital wards or school premises (if access to such places is an integral part of the student’s programme of study or professional training).
- Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
- Will my family find out if tell someone about an incident of GBV or access any support services?
No, no information will be shared with your family without your consent unless you are at significant risk of harm.
- Will my School find out if tell someone about an incident of GBV or access any support services?
No, no information will be shared with your School without your consent.
- If I tell you about an incident of GBV, will you have to report this to the Police?
No, reporting to the Police is entirely your choice.
- What if I was under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time the GBV took place?
This does not matter and you will not be judged or penalised for this. You will be listened to and believed.
- What if I change my mind and want to stop the investigation?
You can choose to stop the investigation at any point – you are in control.
- What happens if the reported party doesn’t attend the required meetings?
The reported party can request a different time and date for the meeting. If they do not attend the re-arranged meeting, the case will still be considered, and a decision made in their absence.
- What if the misconduct may also be a crime?
The University cannot conduct a criminal investigation into misconduct. However, we can still investigate reported misconduct under The Code and deliver an outcome in keeping with the limits of The Code. If there is a live criminal investigation into the reported misconduct, the University may decide to postpone an investigation under The Code until any criminal proceedings are concluded. These two types of investigation are independent of one another and may or may not reach the same conclusion(s).
- What if a member of staff is the alleged perpetrator?
The same investigation procedures under The Code apply, and you will not be disadvantaged in any way.
- What financial support is available to me?
We work with funding bodies to make use of additional funding years when available, and also have funding available to support you with emergency, and ongoing costs related to your experience(s). We may be able to support you with travel expenses, living costs, and emergency accommodation. We also have a supply of stationary items, clothing, and bedding that can be provided to try and minimise any disruption to studies. We will do our best to cater for any need, so please do reach out and ask for support.
How to make a Police Report
You do not need to make a report to the police if you have been a victim of GBV. However, if you would like support making a police report, the Student Advice and Support team can help you with this.
- Information about making a Police Report
You can report a crime to the Police through the following methods:
- Phoning 101 (non-emergency) or 999 (emergency only)
- Online reporting form*
- Attending a local Police Station
*The University has recently become a 3rd party reporting venue, which means we can report to the Police on your behalf. Please get in touch with Student Support to find out more about this.
Alternatively, if you have been a victim of sexual violence in the last 8 days you can contact your local SARCS (Sexual Assault Response Co-ordination Service) who can provide medical support and advice. They can also support you to make a police report.