Cheating, disruption and harassment
As a student, you are obliged to follow the laws and rules that apply at Lund University. A student who is guilty of cheating, disruption or similar can be disciplined with a warning or suspension.
Four disciplinary offences under the Higher Education Ordinance
Within academia there are four “disciplinary offences” in relation to cheating, disruptions and harassment. Under the Higher Education Ordinance, disciplinary measures may be invoked against students who:
Attempt to deceive – cheating
Disciplinary measures may be invoked against students who use prohibited aids or other methods to attempt to deceive during examinations or other forms of assessment of study performance. It is enough that you have attempted to cheat for a disciplinary measure to be justified.
Disrupt or obstruct teaching, tests or other activities
This could pertain to a student violating the regulations during laboratory exercises or examinations, for instance. The student could disrupt an on-campus exam by talking or behaving in an inappropriate manner.
Disrupt activities in the library or other places at the University
The libraries have rules and it is important that you follow them. The most common offence students commit is not registering their loans. Another form of disruption is using the university’s computer network for prohibited activities.
Subject another student or member of staff to harassment
Disciplinary measures may also be taken against students who, under the Discrimination Act, subject another student or member of staff to harassment on the basis of:
- transgender identity or expression
- religion or other belief
- sexual orientation
Sexual harassment can also constitute a disciplinary offence.
You can read the information about disciplinary offences in its entirety and more about disciplinary measures in Chapter 10 of the Higher Education Ordinance.
Disciplinary measures may be invoked against students who:
- use prohibited aids or other methods to attempt to deceive during examinations or other forms of assessment of study performance
- disrupt or obstruct teaching, tests or other activities within the framework of courses and study programmes at the higher education institution
- disrupt activities in the library of the higher education institution or other separate establishments at the institution, or
- subject another student or member of the staff of the higher education institution to harassment or sexual harassment of the kind laid down in Chapter 1 Section 4 of the Discrimination Act (2008:567).
Disciplinary measures may not be invoked more than two years after the offence has been committed.
If an investigation establishes that a student has deliberately deceived in an examination or other assessment of study performance, they may be subjected to a disciplinary measure in the form of a warning or suspension for a set period of time.
One example of cheating is using prohibited aids in an exam, such as notes on slips of paper or unauthorised notes in books. On take-home exams or written assignments, copying other people’s texts without marking them as a quotation is counted as cheating.
It is enough that a student has attempted to cheat for a disciplinary measure to be justified. This could pertain to bringing notes to an exam with the intention of using them. The student can subsequently be guilty of cheating even if they do not use the notes.
Especially on take-home exams, where departments often encourage a certain amount of collaboration, it is important to know that helping someone else to cheat can be regarded as cheating. Allowing someone else to copy your answers could lead to disciplinary proceedings against you.
Another example of cheating is plagiarism. Plagiarism means that a student imitates or copies someone else’s work, for example a text, image or diagram, and presents the material as their own. Plagiarism is not accepted in academia.
Find out which rules apply
It is important to inform yourself about which rules apply when writing an assignment, a paper or a take-home exam. Note that different rules may apply for different courses, programmes and forms of examination. It is important to know which aids you may and may not use, and how you are to use quotations and cite sources. You should consult your lecturer if you are unable to find any applicable rules. You should also acquaint yourself with how to write scholarly texts in your specific subject area.
As a student, you are responsible for making sure you understand the information provided by the department about what is and is not allowed in exams, essays, etc.
Process for dealing with suspected cheating or other disciplinary offences
The process for dealing with cheating or other disciplinary offences is as follows:
If you are suspected of cheating, disruption or obstruction during an examination or other study performance, this will be reported to the Vice-Chancellor. The suspicions must be based on objective grounds, but the threshold is low. Suspicions on the basis of only very little factual evidence may suffice for a report to be made. Subjective intuition is not sufficient, however.
Any university employee can make a report to the Vice-Chancellor, but it is usually a head of department, examiner or similar who makes the report.
Students should be informed by their department that they are suspected of a disciplinary offence. The department is urged by the university to note what the student says in this conversation.
The Legal Division at Management Support investigates reports on behalf of the Vice-Chancellor. The department concerned does not carry out the investigation.
At an early stage of the investigation, the Legal Division informs the student that they are suspected of a disciplinary offence, and the student has the opportunity to submit their opinion on the information in the report, usually in the form of a written statement.
Depending on what information is given, the statement may be sent to the person who filed the report for further comments.
When the investigation into the case is complete, it is sent to the Disciplinary Board for consideration. The student is given the opportunity to attend the meeting of the Board and to make a statement.
It is possible that a case may be concluded without coming before the Disciplinary Board. The Vice-Chancellor can drop a case without further action and can also issue a warning. Otherwise the case is handed over to the Disciplinary Board.
At the meeting, the Board has the chance to put questions to both the student and the department representative. Usually, the Board discusses the case behind closed doors after the meeting and then takes a decision. The student is then informed orally of the Board’s decision. The student also receives the decision in writing within a week of the decision being taken.
If a student is found guilty of cheating or some other type of disciplinary offence, they will receive a warning or be suspended from education at Lund University during a specified period of time.
Suspension means that the student may not participate in any activity within the context of education at Lund University during the period of suspension. This means that the student is forbidden to attend teaching, examinations, seminars, enter laboratories, etc. The suspension period can last from a few weeks to several months; the maximum suspension period is six months. The most common suspension period is six weeks. A suspended student is not entitled to student finance during the suspension period. The University is obligated to inform the Swedish Board of Student Finance (CSN) when a decision to suspend a student has been taken.
If the Vice-Chancellor decides on a warning, the student can demand that the decision be heard by the Disciplinary Board. Students can appeal a Disciplinary Board decision resulting in a suspension or warning to the Administrative Court.
The Disciplinary Board does not decide whether an exam/essay shall be assessed. Neither can the Board decide whether an exam/essay that is assessed shall pass or fail. These issues are always decided by the examiner. Usually, the assessment of the work is delayed until the question of whether the student is guilty of a disciplinary offence has been decided.
If the student is found guilty
The examiner is not obliged to mark the exam paper or essay if the student is guilty of any form of cheating. In exceptional cases, it may be justified to assess the work despite the student being found guilty of a disciplinary offence. This could be in cases such as when a student has been found to have access to prohibited aids at such an early stage that they clearly did not have the opportunity to use them. However, even in such cases the examiner has the right to refuse to mark the exam paper, which can be regarded as invalid because the student violated an important regulation.
In cases where an exam or essay has been marked before the Disciplinary Board reaches its decision that the student is guilty of cheating, the examiner can reconsider the assessment and change the grade to a fail. Please note that it is not possible to appeal against the examiner’s decision; you can only request that the work be re-assessed.
If the student is cleared
If cheating cannot be proven, the work should normally be assessed. In exceptional cases, there may be reasons to refuse to mark an examination, despite the student being cleared of cheating, such as if a student has used prohibited aids without being aware that they were prohibited. In such cases, it is reasonable for the work not to be assessed.
Students can appeal a Disciplinary Board decision resulting in a suspension or warning to the Administrative Court.
For questions about disciplinary matters, contact the Legal Department.
disciplin [at] lu [dot] se (disciplin[at]lu[dot]se)
Useful links and writing resources
Read more about academic conduct, plagiarism, citing and referencing on the following websites:
- Read the University's Guidelines and Regulations on Plagiarism on Staff Pages (PDF 353 kB, new tab)
- Academic integrity – Lund University Libraries website
- Plagiarism – Academic Writing in English (AWELU) website
- Lund University Libraries website
- Find more useful links and resources in our list of Academic Resources