Disciplinary regulations for students at Pompeu Fabra University
The disciplinary regulations applicable to university students are laid out in the Academic Discipline Regulations, approved by decree on 8th September 1954.
The Constitutional Court has repeatedly indicated that the term “law in force”, in reference to penal and administrative regulations related to sanctions, contained in Article 25.1 of the Spanish Constitution, contains a legal reservation with regard to sanctions. The university legislator has not always understood it as such, attributing to universities, in Article 27.3 of the repealed Organic Law on University Reform, the establishment of regulations, and therefore regulatory standards without legal status, concerning student responsibilities. Today, the situation has been properly corrected in accordance with constitutional orthodoxy, and thus Royal Decree 1791/2010, of 30th December, which approved the University Student Statute, foresees in its second additional provision a mandate for the state government to present a regulatory bill on disciplinary authority concerning university students.
However, as also stated by the Constitutional Court, this legal reservation concerning sanctions cannot be enforced retroactively to regulatory provisions on matters with respect to which that reservation did not exist in accordance with the law prior to the Constitution. Hence, no doubts have been raised on the constitutionality and validity of the Decree of 8th September 1954, for which there have been no repeals by subsequent provisions.
However, these regulatory standards present different problems in their day-to-day application. The improper classification of certain behaviour, the use of unspecified legal concepts –although this has also been accepted by the Constitutional Court–, the lack of specificities, especially in terms of timeframes, of some of the sanctions, and other shortcomings that the rules attempt to resolve with a reference to disciplinary provisions applicable to civil servants and the general principles of criminal law, raise doubts and cause discrepancies in criteria in the different procedures, leaving excessively broad margins for action for the public workers that have to enact them.
It is therefore appropriate, given this situation, that internal regulations be approved by the University, which, without modifying the system of infringements and sanctions laid out in the Decree of 8th September 1954, complement and adapt the provisions of the aforementioned regulations. As also recognised by the Constitutional Court, regulations of this nature would not breach the prohibition on modifying the sanctions system without the appropriate legal coverage.
Article 1. Scope of application
1. This provision applies to students enrolled at Pompeu Fabra University, on any of the study programmes taught therein.
2. Included within the concept of academic and university actions are both those that are undertaken on the University premises, and those undertaken in collaborating entities under the tutelage or organisation of the University, such as curricular or extracurricular work experience carried out in companies or external institutions.
3. Understood as included within the concept of persons under the responsibility of the University are staff members of collaborating entities or entities that provide services to the University.
Article 2. Classification of offences
Offences committed by students are classified as very serious, serious and minor, in accordance with what is laid out in Article 5 of the Academic Discipline Regulations, approved by the Decree of 8 September 1954.
Article 3. Very serious offences
1. Very serious offences are:
- Injury, offence or insubordination caused against academic authorities or teachers.
- Serious offence, through words or actions, caused to other students, administrative and service staff or other staff under the responsibility of the University.
- Impersonation in connection with teaching actions and the falsification of documents.
- A lack of integrity and any action that constitutes a crime.
- Repeatedly committing minor offences.
2. Included in, but not limited to, the concept of a lack of integrity, is the following behaviour:
2.1. In reference to exams or other assessment-based activities:
- Cheating or intentionally aiding someone else’s cheating.
- Producing, providing or intentionally aiding the use of instruments for cheating or illicitly obtaining information.
- Consciously omitting the acknowledgement of someone in academic papers or activities, or falsifying a contribution.
- Plagiarism, cheating, clearly incorrect citations in documents and other serious wrongdoings concerning intellectual property.
- The unauthorised duplicate publication of work, significant removal of relevant data or inclusion of false data.
- Illicitly accessing or obtaining in advance the content of a test or exam, or helping or trying to appropriate, alter or destroy the content or results of an assessment-based activity.
2.2. In reference to academic actions or those related to university management or administration:
- The appropriation of library property, hardware, instruments, software or other educational resources.
- The improper acceptance or offering of gifts or benefits in exchange for academic or administrative actions, which may influence or be perceived as influencing future academic or administrative actions.
3. Included in the classification of injurious, offensive or insubordinate behaviour towards academic authorities, teachers, administrative and service staff or fellow students is the following behaviour:
- Coercion, disorderly conduct, insults or any other offence that limits or impedes the normal undertaking of academic activities and the respectful expression of opinions.
- Any intimidation or harassment that threatens someone or prevents them from carrying out aspects of their academic life, which they would legitimately do if it were not for this behaviour.
- The alteration, obstruction or serious breaches of prevention and security measures established on campus.
- Discriminatory treatment based on origin, gender, beliefs or any other personal or social circumstance of other members of the university community or staff under the responsibility of the University.
4. Included in the classification of falsifying documents is the following behaviour:
- The falsification, alteration or omission of relevant data in requests, applications, forms or any other document or administrative procedure, or the conscious use of inaccurate or altered documents.
Article 4. Serious offences
1. Serious offences include:
- Indecent words or acts or any act that significantly disturbs the order that should prevail at the University, inside or outside of the classrooms.
- Resistance, in any form, to orders or agreements from above.
- Repetition of minor offences.
2. Acts that significantly disturb the academic order include, but are not limited to, the following behaviour:
2.1. In reference to exams and other assessment-based activities:
- Copying or aiding the copying of answers or of an assessment-based activity.
- Undervaluing or exaggerating someone’s contribution in assignments or group academic activities.
- Plagiarism, copying or incorrect citation of documents in non-relevant proportions, and in general a lack of respect for intellectual property.
- The partial reuse of academic papers without authorisation and with incorrect citation, and the removal or alteration of relevant data.
2.2. In reference to academic acts or those relating to university management or administration:
- Altering the procedures for the availability, consultation or loan of learning tools and resources, in such a way as to significantly alter the fair use of these as established in the university provisions.
- Behaviour that damages university properly, or clearly hinders or alters its use.
- The wrongful access or use violation of software, hardware, instruments or other educational resources.
- The conscious obstruction or violation of prevention and security measures established on the campus.
- Personal behaviour that notably damages or is detrimental to the good name or reputation of the University.
- Inconsiderate behaviour based on origin, gender, beliefs or any other personal or social circumstance of other members of the university community or staff under the responsibility of the University.
- The revelation or mention to third parties of private information students have had access to in the course of academic activity.
Article 5. Minor offences
Minor offences are any acts that are not included in aforementioned articles, which may disturb the order of academic discipline.
Article 6. Sanctions for very serious offences
1. The commission of very serious offences can be sanctioned with temporary expulsion from the University, as laid out in Article 6 a) of the Academic Discipline Regulations.
2. Temporary expulsion cannot be more than four years or less than six months.
Article 7. Sanctions for serious offences
The commission of serious offences can be sanctioned with those measures outlined in Article 6 b) of the Academic Discipline Regulations:
- Loss of the right to be assessed for all or some of the subjects the student has enrolled on, in all examinations of the academic year.
- Loss of the right to be assessed in the ordinary examination of one or more subjects.
- Partial or total loss, on either a definitive or temporary basis, of scholarships or other benefits awarded by the University.
Article 8. Sanctions for minor offences
The commission of minor offences can be sanctioned with those measures outlined in Article 6 c) of the Academic Discipline Regulations:
- Loss of enrolment of one or more subjects.
- Deprivation, throughout the year or during a shorter period, of the right to attend one or more specific classes.
- Public warning.
- Private warning.
Article 9. Secondary sanctions
1. Temporary expulsion entails the secondary sanction of losing enrolment and the academic year during the time the sanction is being served, and a prohibition on transferring the academic transcript during the year in which the sanction has been imposed.
2. Losing the right to be assessed entails the secondary sanction of a prohibition on transferring the academic transcript within the same year.
3. Any sanctions that include losing the right to assessment or losing enrolment will result in the affected subjects being included in the student’s academic transcript as not having been sat.
Article 10. Procedures
1. The imposition of sanctions for very serious or serious offences will require the opening of a disciplinary inquiry, in accordance with the procedure established in the Academic Discipline Regulations.
2. The imposition of sanctions for minor offences will be carried out through summary proceedings, without the need for appointing an investigator. At all times hearing procedures must be observed.
Article 11. Time limits
1. Very serious offences are limited to punishments of three years, serious offences to two years and minor offences to six months.
2. Sanctions imposed for very serious offences are limited to three years, serious offences to two years and minor offences to one year.
3. The time period for the offences will begin from when the offence has been committed, and that of the sanctions from the moment the ruling has been passed regarding the sanction.
Article 12. Initiation of disciplinary inquiries
1. It is the rector’s responsibility to initiate disciplinary inquiries, whether through his own initiative, as proposed by his subordinates or in response to a complaint.
2. In the case for which proceedings are initiated, an investigator will be appointed, who must be a civil servant in university teaching bodies.
3. When the complexity or seriousness of the acts to be investigated so requires, a secretary will be appointed, who must also be a civil servant.
4. The accused, as well as the investigator and, if there is one, secretary, will be notified regarding the initiation of the inquiry.
Article 13. Provisional measures
1. Once proceedings have been initiated, the rector can, on his own initiative or at the proposal of the investigator, agree, on reasoned grounds, on the provisional measures deemed appropriate to ensure the effectiveness of a ruling, as long as these do not cause irreparable harm or imply the violation of rights protected by law.
2. The provisional suspension of a student’s associated rights, as a precautionary measure, cannot exceed six months, except in the case that proceedings are put on hold for reasons attributable to the accused.
Article 14. Conducting the disciplinary inquiry
1. In the undertaking of proceedings the requirements outlined in the Academic Discipline Regulations and included below are to be observed.
2. The investigator will take a statement from the accused and request the taking of evidence that he or she considers necessary to clarify the facts of the case, formulating, as appropriate, the corresponding statement of objections.
3. The statement of objections will be communicated to the accused, who must respond in writing in a non-renewable period of 8 days following this notification.
4. Once the response to the statement of objections has been received and the actions the investigator deems appropriate have been taken, the latter will hear the views of the accused, with regard to the case, within a common time frame of between ten and fifteen days. A hearing is unnecessary when facts, allegations and evidence other than those presented by the accused do not feature in the proceedings or need not be taken into account for the ruling.
5. If it is found that there are legal proceedings underway for the same behaviour, or if the acts in question are sufficiently serious to require a judge to be notified, the inquiry procedure will be suspended before a ruling is announced, and until there is a final legal ruling.
6. Once the period for the hearing has passed, the investigator will formulate a justified proposal of responsibility, which will be communicated to the accused so that within a period of five days, the latter can appeal to the rector with whatever they consider suitable for their defence.
7. After this time period, the rector will announce the relevant ruling.
Article 15. Ruling of the disciplinary proceedings
1. The ruling that concludes the disciplinary proceedings will resolve all issues stated in the inquiry, must be reasoned and cannot include facts other than those that served as the basis for the statement of objections and the ruling proposal, without prejudice to another appraisal.
2. The ruling will accurately state the offence committed, indicating the rule that has been breached, the identity of the culprit and the sanction that has been imposed, as well as indicating the rule that establishes such an action.
3. Likewise, the ruling will include relevant statements regarding the provisional measures that may have been agreed upon.
Article 16. Expiration
1. The maximum time period for resolving and announcing an explicit sanctioning ruling is one year, starting from the date the accused is notified of the decision to initiate proceedings.
2. If the maximum time period for resolving a case is exceeded without an explicit ruling being reached and announced the case expires. In this case, the ruling that declares the expiration will call for the proceedings to be filed.
3. The expiration will not by itself give rise to the limitations for the offence, but the expired procedure will not interrupt the limitation period.
Article 17. Implementation of sanctions
1. The sanctions will be implemented in the terms and time frames indicated in the ruling.
2. The rector may, on his own initiative or at the request of the accused, and only if there is a justified cause, agree to the sanction not being implemented or it being temporarily suspended, in this case for a period less than that of the time limit.
3. As requested by the accused, and if there are sufficient grounds, the rector can agree to the sanction being replaced with services rendered for the university community.
Article 18. Record of the offence in the student’s transcript
The sanctions, with the exception of a private warning, will be recorded in the student’s transcript, stating the relevant offence, and they will be cancelled ex officio or at the request of the person concerned one, two or three years after the sanctions have finished, according to whether it was a minor, serious or very serious offence.
This regulation will enter into force the day after it is approved by the Board of Governors.