Fitness to Practice Procedure

 

If you study a course which leads directly to a professional qualification such as Law, Social Work, Pharmacy or Nursing, there is an additional requirement under the ‘Fitness to Practice’ rules. Because of the profession you wish to enter has a code of conduct for its members, this also extends to students wishing to enter the profession. 

If your conduct causes concern that you may not be fit to practice in your chosen profession, an investigation may be carried out by the University.  You should ensure that you read your course handbook and familiarise yourself with any policy that applies to your course.  

In some cases students are suspended from some components or sometimes all of their studies whilst the investigation is conducted, though suspensions lasting more than 14 days can be appealed against.  In due course, there will be an opportunity to meet the investigator, answer questions and give evidence.  If the investigation finds significant reason to proceed, the matter is referred to a Panel Hearing. 

You would be informed in writing and have the opportunity to seek advice and representation if an investigation arises.  It is advisable to contact DSU Welfare as soon as you receive a letter about this

 

Being suspended means that your registration as a student is put on hold until the University decide otherwise and you will not be able to attend any lectures, enter into any University building (other than to use the Welfare Services at the Students’ Union), contact any academic staff or use any University facilities.
 
Your suspension will be reviewed every 4 weeks or when new evidence is produced.
 
If your suspension is going to go on for longer than 14 days you have the right to appeal in writing to the Vice-Chancellor.

 

 

The outcomes can range from being; · permitted to continue on the course, sometimes with closer supervision for a period · required to repeat part of the course · referred for an Occupational Health assessment (if appropriate) · recommended to interrupt with conditions on resuming · suspended for a defined period with conditions on resuming · terminated from the course as unfit to practice

 

 

If the allegations made against you are in fact correct, then the first thing within your statement is to acknowledge this and apologise. It is also very important to reflect on your actions. If the allegations are not correct, then the onus will be on you to prove this.
 
Explain what happened in full and any mitigating circumstances (if the allegations are correct). The University will be assessing if you are fit to practice so you need to show reflection and that you understand the code of conduct. You need to be able to relate their concerns with the code of conduct and either show how you did not breach it or if you did reassure them it will not happen again. Their primary concern is patients or service users’ safety.
 
End by explaining how important your course is to you and any plans you have for the future.
 
You can provide character references from employers, family and friends as evidence that you did not do it or that is was an out of character thing to do. However you must not tell people (other than your parents), you are undergoing a fitness to practice investigation as this will breach confidentiality.
 
If you have mitigating circumstances that you also need to provide evidence of this.
 
DSU Welfare can check your statement and represent you at any meetings or hearings.

 

 

• Serious illness or death of a member of the immediate family; normally a parent or guardian, child, brother, sister, spouse or partner.
 
• An episode of a serious debilitating illness involving an authorised absence from study of at least three weeks, for example to undertake a course of chemotherapy.
 
• A serious accident or acute illness occurring immediately before or at the time of the assessments concerned.
 
• Other unforeseen circumstances, of equivalent weight, that have seriously disrupted the ability to study, for example the need to care for a very ill child over a number of weeks
 
Mitigation constitutes anything that may have affected your judgment at the time. These are not excuses but an explanation as to why you acted out of character and evidence that when you are not under this stress, it will not happen again.

 

 

If you are unhappy with the outcome from any hearing, then you have will have the right of appeal but only on limited grounds. These are -
 
21.1 There is new and relevant evidence which the student was demonstrably and for the most exceptional reasons unable to present at the Disciplinary Hearing or Provost’s Hearing or during a Faculty fitness to practise investigation. This may include evidence in mitigation.
 
Such new evidence must be submitted with the student’s written notice of appeal or, if it is not possible to include the evidence at the time the notice is submitted, the notice must be accompanied by a note explaining the evidence the student wishes to submit.
 
21.2 The Disciplinary Committee, Provost or Faculty fitness to practise investigation did not comply with its stated procedures.
 
21.3 The penalty made was too severe or was inappropriate or disproportionate to the breach of the Disciplinary Code or fitness to practice standards.
 
The appeal must be in writing, stating clearly the specific grounds listed above on which you want to appeal, providing appropriate evidence. This notice of appeal must reach the Clerk to the Disciplinary Appeals Committee within 14 days of the receiving your outcome letter. They are based in the Student Gateway, Gateway House.

 

 

Depending on how long you have been suspended for you may not be able to graduate on time. If you have missed too much of your studies you will have to repeat the year and therefore your graduation will be delayed. The outcome of the hearing may also be that you have to repeat part of the programme and therefore your graduation will be delayed.
 

Effects on funding

 
If you need to repeat part of your course, your student funding may be affected.
 
Undergraduate students funded by Student Finance England will normally receive funding for any repeat period of study under the regulations which allow you to receive funding for the ordinary duration of your course plus one year. If you have already used this additional year of funding, you have to show that you had compelling personal reasons for taking repeating in order to receive funding. You have to request that your circumstances are considered and it is at the discretion of Student Finance England as to whether funding can be paid.
 
For NHS-funded students, repeat study may be supported up to a maximum period of 12 months at the discretion of NHS Student Bursaries.

 

 

Here is a link to the University’s full disciplinary procedure
 
http://www.dmu.ac.uk/documents/dmu-students/academic-support-office/studentregs1314/chapter21314.pdf
 
and the annexe which includes the fitness to practice procedure
 
http://www.dmu.ac.uk/documents/dmu-students/academic-support-office/studentregs1314/chapter-2-annexes-13-14.pdf

 

Need more help? Get advice and support from DSU Welfare