Our Academic Investigations team was established last August when our school structure went live. The team has provided administrative support for more than 80 misconduct hearings so far this year. We recently caught up with them to find out more about their roles, the expertise that they have built up, and what the main benefits have been since the team was established.
1. Could you tell us a bit about yourselves and your roles within the Academic Investigations team?
Julia: When I joined the College around two and a half years ago, I took over responsibility for all academic appeals and serious academic misconduct from AQPO. Since then the new team has been created and we now manage the academic misconduct process all the way through, as well as dealing with student appeals and complaints.
Claire: Hi, I am Claire and I am the Academic Investigations Senior Officer. I deal with the more complex cases in appeals, the second stage referrals to the Senior Vice-Principal of academic misconduct cases and the complaints. I started in August so joined the newly formed team as a new staff member to Royal Holloway, having worked in a number of different Universities over the years. I have mainly worked in School based admin teams and have covered most areas of Higher Education administration over that time.
Laura: I started at the College in 2018 initially working in the PIRP Department and joined newly formed Academic Investigations Team in July last year. At the moment my role is very much on the front line of academic misconduct with organising panels, liaising with students and academics and ensuring the procedures are followed in line with the Regulations. When academic misconduct cases dwindle in the summer months, my attention turns to investigating student appeals and complaints.
Daniel: I started working for the College in February 2019, after graduating from Royal Holloway with a BA in English and Drama back in 2017. In true ‘poacher turned gamekeeper’ style I’m now responsible for handling student appeals and allegations of academic misconduct across the College, along with my wonderful colleagues.
Sarah: I‘ve worked at the College for 19 years, in both departments and Student Admin, I am very happy working for Academic Investigations, we are a good team. My role includes investigating appeals and providing support for misconduct panel.
2. The responsibility and support of Academic Misconduct Hearings moved from department administration, to your team when our new school structure went live last August. Can you tell us how this process has improved since then?
We wouldn’t say that we have improved the process itself and we recognise that there was a lot of very good practice around the College. But what we have tried to do is, where practices differed, adopt the approach which ensured the best experience for students and staff. The aim is to provide a fair and consistent service so that irrespective of which department or school a student comes from, they have a similar experience.
3. What are the main benefits of this process now sitting within a central team?
The main benefit is consistency and a quick turnaround, and hopefully this is the case for students and staff. We want to make the process as easy as possible for academic staff, who we know are extremely busy, and we do this by taking responsibility for all the correspondence and communication with the student, arranging panel meetings and dealing with all the administration and record keeping. Another benefit is that Laura, Sarah and Daniel have built up a great deal of experience already and can ensure that the panels are all run correctly and answer procedural questions as they arise.
As the team now has oversight of the entire academic misconduct process, we are also working on producing more information for students. We already deal with many of their questions but recognise that this is an area where we can really help to improve their experience.
4. What do each of you enjoy most about working at Royal Holloway and within the Academic Investigations team?
Laura: One of the things I enjoy most about working at Royal Holloway is the people. I have made some lifelong friends in both my previous and current Departments.
Claire: The thing I like most about working here and in this team is my colleagues. They are all wonderfully supportive and hardworking individuals that come in every day with a smile and a desire to do a good job.
Sarah: I like the human aspect of working in Academic Investigations, all human life is there and we try to deal with each case fairly and impartially.
Julia: Before the team was formed I was essentially a team of one and it has been really enjoyable getting to know the others and working out together how we want to work and be perceived as a team. We have all given this a lot of thought over the last six months or so and it’s great that we have reached this point where things are (mostly!) working well!
Daniel: I love the personal elements of the work we do. A lot of our day-to-day tasks involve us interacting with students and staff across the College, so we get to know a lot of people quite well and end up being relied on for information and support. There is also something quite pleasing about being able to point at a picture of Founders and say ‘That’s my office!’
5. What's your favourite term at Royal Holloway and why?
Daniel: It’s not technically a term, but I really enjoy enrolment week – there’s a great sense of excitement for the coming year. That and the fact that no-one has had the opportunity to commit academic misconduct yet so we get to meet all the students in a really positive light.
Sarah: I like the exams term, on the surface of it quiet but busy underneath.
Julia: My favourite term is summer, (before the onslaught of academic appeals!). As part of Student Administration we take part in Graduation week and this is a really enjoyable way of reminding myself that the vast majority of students have a problem-free journey through University and get a valuable degree at the end of it.
Claire: Sorry, I haven’t completed a full year yet so it would be unfair for me to answer this one. We are all about fairness in this team and working from evidence, so I can come back to this one in six months.
Laura: As a member of student Administration, we have the opportunity to take part in various events across the year such as enrolment and graduation. These events have such a positive atmosphere and it is always a welcome change from the seriousness of the other aspects of my job.