Queensland University of Technology has updated the platform for their Manual of Policy and Procedures, with changes to some sections of the MOPP, including significant changes to the Academic Integrity policy that directly impact how breaches are managed.
The Academic Integrity policy outlines how the university manages academic integrity breaches, like cheating or plagiarism. Incidents are no longer defined as minor or major, they are now designated as either an incident of poor academic practice or academic misconduct.
Poor academic practice has its limitations, and only relates to instances of collusion, plagiarism, self-plagiarism and file-sharing.
These incidents are addressed through an “educative response” and may include completing additional training in academic integrity or resubmitting the assessment. The policy also states that if the assessment is marked, any section that is determined not to be the student’s work will not contribute to the grade, which has always been the case in most faculties.
An important clause in the policy to note is that students do not have the ability to ask for cases of poor academic practice to be reviewed.
This is because these cases are not considered misconduct and the policy says there is no punishment involved. The outcomes are meant to be educative and “to support students in understanding and maintaining the standard of academic integrity”.
For example, if you’re in your first year and forget to give credit to your sources in an assignment, it may be seen as poor academic practice. The fix might be to redo the assignment and make sure to include the right references.
However, students should be aware that they are provided three chances of poor academic practice before it is classified as misconduct, which means any additional breaches will be reviewed by the Faculty Academic Misconduct Committees.
A finding of academic misconduct can range from deduction of a grade, failing the relevant assessment or unit, or being excluded from the university.
The outcome of an academic integrity breach is determined by considering various factors, including but not limited to relevant circumstances, the extent of the breach, level of study the student has reached, and whether there have been previous breaches.
The section of the policy outlining academic integrity breaches remains very similar to the previous policy, with some sections expanded and more detail added. The most significant change in this section is the direct reference to the use of artificial intelligence software.
Section 6.13.C states, “submitting assessment that has been produced or modified, wholly or in part, by an artificial intelligence tool, algorithm, or computer generator where such actions are not authorised in the assessment task”.
The previous policy was implemented in 2017 and did not directly state that the use of AI was considered a breach, as the technology had only become easy to access and commonly used in the last few years.
Now that the use of AI is officially classified as a breach, it’s important that students take an active role in understanding their assessment guidelines and unit outlines. Especially when it comes to generative AI and whether or not the assessment allows the use of it, and how to correctly reference its use.
Another notable shift in the policy includes changes in the committee responsible for reviewing fraudulent medical certificate cases, moving from the centralised student committee to faculty academic misconduct committees.
Staff concerns about potential inconsistencies among different faculties have been raised, as interpretation of policy can vary.
QUT have advised they are establishing a community of practice in the Academic Integrity Unit to help staff with the transition to the new policy. They have stated that the unit will provide training and support, development of resources and reporting on issues and trends, and will focus on ensuring shared understanding and consistency of the policies.
The change might also affect the Guild Academic Advocacy staff, possibly causing them to spend more time in committee meetings.
While the structure and members of these meetings remain the same as in previous years, this increase in time spent in committee meetings could pose challenges. Particularly if faculty meetings overlap with those of other faculties and depending on the number of academic integrity breaches categorised as academic misconduct.
This shift may create difficulties for Advocacy staff in offering support, as they are already balancing the demands of daily student requests. These adjustments may lead to less time for one-on-one meetings with students.
Remember, Advocacy is a SSAF funded initiative with staffing determined by funding allocations.
If you need help or are concerned about any changes to the MOPP, contact Advocacy by booking an appointment here.
If you’re interested in checking out the new platform, the comprehensive QUT MOPP can be viewed here.