Unitec responds to academic misconduct

Unitec takes its responsibilities as an employer and education provider very seriously and has a thorough process in place for addressing misconduct allegations.

A reality of working in the education sector is that, on occasion, organisations are required to investigate and take action on academic or behavioural issues. This process is managed entirely by academic staff and offers a range of remedial actions that are consistent with the wider tertiary education sector.

The New Zealand Herald published an article on Saturday, May 6, which raised concerns over Unitec’s response to academic misconduct. The article lacked a number of key facts and it is important that Unitec addresses any concerns this may have generated.

Unitec can confirm that in November 2016 a lecturer notified the Head of Engineering of alleged misconduct and a formal disciplinary investigation was immediately launched in accordance with the Student Disciplinary Statute.
The investigation was carried out with input sought from all parties.

It was found that two questions set by the lecturer in the 2016 test were identical to the previous year and model answers were available. It was also found that the students had behaved in an unacceptable manner when meeting with the lecturer to discuss allegations of academic misconduct.

The lecturer was aware of the process and their input was sought by the lead investigator, but the lecturer chose to end their employment with Unitec a month before the investigation was completed and as a result did not have visibility of the detailed findings or any penalties.

Unitec can confirm that no student who had not achieved the required academic standards has been awarded a qualification. Penalties applied were in accordance with academic policies and in line with responses to previous instances of misconduct. It is important to note that a range of penalties are available; simply removing marks from an exam paper would not follow accepted practice.

It is unfortunate the former staff member has opted to acquire the private records of students and hold these after their employment ended. This is a serious breach of the student’s right to privacy.

Please direct all media enquiries to nwilson@unitec.ac.nz.