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Accommodation: Penalty for noise disturbance - PI091601

University of Portsmouth

A student complained to us after her request to appeal against temporary suspension from the University of Portsmouth was turned down.

The student was living in shared private rented accommodation. Local residents complained to the University and to the local council about noise on several occasions. The Council issued a Noise Abatement notice a few weeks into the tenancy and the University, which had already been in touch with the students, began disciplinary proceedings.

Following an initial interview the University imposed sanctions on the students for breach of the Code of Student Behaviour, which prohibits "antisocial behaviour both within the University and within the wider community". However the University continued to receive complaints about noise and contacted the students to warn them that further breaches of regulations would lead to referral to a major disciplinary panel, which had the "power to suspend or exclude students".

After further incidents the Council issued a Contravention of Abatement notice. This led the University to hold a further investigation of misconduct meeting, which the student did not attend. The University subsequently established a full disciplinary panel to hear the full case. The student did not attend or provide evidence. The panel imposed the maximum available penalty of exclusion from the University for one year. It noted that "the penalty was appropriate given the severity of the incidents and the fact that [the student] refused to moderate her behaviour or engage in the disciplinary progress".

We found the student’s complaint Not Justified. The University correctly followed its regulations and procedures and afforded the student every opportunity to engage and submit evidence in a timely manner at each stage of the process. It demonstrated that it made her aware of the possible outcome of major misconduct. We concluded that the University’s final decision and chosen penalty were in accordance with its regulations and were reasonable in all the circumstances.

In our Complaint Outcome we noted that the University’s regulations state that it will take action against students who demonstrate anti-social behaviour. This is common practice in the sector and we consider this to be necessary to safeguard the reputation and co-existence of universities within their wider community.