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Case involving possible criminal proceedings - PI021701

Cardiff University

A student at Cardiff University complained to us about the University’s decision to dismiss his appeal against his expulsion on disciplinary grounds.

The University temporarily suspended the student under its disciplinary procedures after he was arrested by the police for various offences against other students. The student appealed against the suspension and the University agreed to vary its terms so that he could sit his end of year assessments. The student was later convicted of five counts of sexual assault and securing unauthorised access to computer material. He was sentenced to a Community Order and required to sign the Sex Offender’s register. The University subsequently pursued a disciplinary case against the student and decided that he should be expelled as his behaviour had breached the University’s disciplinary procedures. The University dismissed the student’s appeal against that decision.

We criticised the University for some elements of its handling of the case, in particular, its failure to properly explain aspects of its decision-making relating to whether the student had demonstrated insight into his actions. However, with the exception of this point, we considered that the remainder of the University’s decision letter contained clear reasoning, supported by evidence in relation to its decision and was satisfied that the decision to expel the student was reasonable and proportionate. The convictions were serious and directly impacted on the University community, the student’s Probation Officer had indicated that the risk of him causing serious harm to others would likely be assessed as high if he returned to the University, there was an identified risk to adult females around the student’s age and the University could not ensure compliance with the Probation Officer’s recommendation that he should reside in single-sex accommodation.

We therefore concluded that the complaint was Not Justified, but made some suggestions to the University in terms of explaining the reasons for its decisions and introducing a ground for appeal to allow a student to challenge the penalty imposed under its disciplinary procedures.