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Guidance for higher education institutions: how to handle alleged student misconduct

These guidelines, drafted by Pinsent Masons LLP, relate to all types of student misconduct which may constitute a criminal offence and provides some specific recommendations in relation to sexual misconduct.

In 1994, the Council of Vice-Chancellors and Principals (CVCP), now Universities UK (UUK), published the Final Report of the Task Force on Student Disciplinary Procedures - commonly referred to as the Zellick Report. These non-statutory guidelines provided advice to UK universities on handling circumstances where a student’s alleged misconduct may also constitute a criminal offence.

In 2016, a Taskforce established byUUK to examine violence against women, harassment and hate crime received evidence highlighting concerns about the Zellick guidelines. In particular, it was noted that, since the guidelines were published, there had been substantial and important developments in the sector and in the law (for example, the Human Rights Act 1998 and the Equality Act 2010). As a consequence, there were concerns that the guidelines did not adequately reflect the various duties and obligations that universities have in relation to their students or assist universities in handling the most complex and sensitive incidents, particularly those involving sexual violence.

The Taskforce therefore initiated a review of the Zellick Report. Pinsent Masons LLP worked closely with members of a steering group to produce new guidelines for the sector on how to handle student disciplinary issues where the alleged misconduct may also constitute a criminal offence. These guidelines relate to all types of student misconduct which may constitute a criminal offence and provides some specific recommendations in relation to sexual misconduct.

The guidelines are drafted in general terms and are relevant to all UK institutions.

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