Some University programmes lead directly to a professional qualification, statutory registration and eligibility to practise. Therefore, the University has a responsibility to ensure that you will be a safe and suitable candidate for that profession. In order to receive your degree and professional status, you must abide by the University’s Regulations and the requirements of the relevant professional body.
What circumstances could affect your fitness to practise?
Examples of potential fitness to practise issues include:
- If you have deliberately tried to mislead or have been dishonest with the University. For example, if you have intentionally not disclosed something which is relevant to your fitness for your chosen profession, or have misled University staff over assignments or placements.
- If you have committed violence or been involved in illegal acts, which would make you unsuitable for your chosen profession.
- If you have been absent from your studies due to illness or a personal issue, such as bereavement, which may affect your ability to focus or perform to standard on your course. You will need a report from your healthcare practitioner to show that you are fit and ready to resume your studies.
- If you have ignored guidance given to you by the University, or have shown a lack of awareness of your own fitness to practise then this in itself can be a fitness to practise issue. As a professional, you will be expected to keep an eye on your own performance and be able to identify any issues which could compromise your work.
What happens if your fitness to practise is questioned?
If issues regarding your fitness to practise are raised and your Head of School (or equivalent) judges that it is a fitness to practise issue, and not unrelated misconduct, then there are two possible routes it may follow.
Initial attempts to resolve the issue will be made by trying to come to a mutual agreement between you and relevant members of staff. Outcomes at this stage range from no action taken, to being issued with a notice of improvement, for which objectives and timescales for completion will be mutually agreed between you and the School.
If you fail to fulfil the terms of your notice of improvement within the timescale agreed, or informal attempts fail to resolve the issue, or the matter is considered too serious, then it will proceed to the formal process.
The process for programmes located in the School of Health and Social Care has an additional dimension relating to “Causes for Concern” but essentially there are 2 stages to the formal process.
Stage One: Referral to the School Fitness to Practise Panel
You will be invited to attend a meeting where the Head of School will summarise the case against you and you will be allowed to summarise your own case. If you are unable to attend, you can submit a written defence for the panel.
Once both cases have been heard and both sides questioned, the Panel will consider the case and make its decision on the evidence provided. The decisions the Panel can make range from ruling that there is no case to answer, up to the severest penalty of expulsion from the University with immediate effect.
Stage Two: Appeal to the University Fitness to Practise Panel
You may lodge an Appeal within 10 working days of receiving the panel’s decision, but only on the following grounds:
- New evidence which couldn’t reasonably have been brought to the School panel
- A procedural irregularity
- Evidence of prejudice or bias
To lodge an appeal it is important to be able to provide evidence to support your claim. Without it, your appeal will not be accepted.
The University Fitness to Practise Panel can either rule to uphold or not uphold the appeal. It can also make any recommendations it considers appropriate. This can include increasing any penalty the School Panel imposed.
The Fitness to Practise Regulations are contained within of the University General Regulations.