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Academic Progress: A Code of Good Practice

The following Code of Good Practice is intended to assist students and staff in matters of academic progress.

(1) Academic Progress

(a) If a student engaged in full or part-time study (excluding those registered on a Continuation Fee basis) is absent from courses of instruction, or fails to meet his/her academic commitments(defined in accordance with General Regulation V), the staff concerned should seek to contact the student as soon as they consider appropriate. A departmental warning may avoid the necessity to issue an Academic Progress Notice under General Regulation V.

(b) If there is concern about any aspect of a student's attendance or work, the Departments and College concerned should keep each other informed of action required or taken.

(c) Careful records must be kept of all communications with students arising from concern about their academic progress. Copies of formal communications must be sent to the relevant College.

(d) A request to issue an Academic Progress Notice under General Regulation V should be made when a student's performance does not improve after a departmental warning.

(2) Monitoring Academic Progress

(a) At the start of a programme, and at the start of each new level of a programme, Departments should inform students of the extent to which examination performance, course work, subsidiary subjects and other academic requirements will be taken into account when students' results are being assessed and/or degrees are awarded.

(b) Departments should explain their system of marking and correcting course and class work, and should indicate any differences between the marking of tutorial work and of examinations.

(c) Students should be issued with guidelines on the writing of course work (eg to avoid charges of plagiarism).

(d) Departments should explain to students the requirements for demonstrating academic progress in relation to their particular programme and modules. Reference should be made to the records that are kept of a student's attendance and work.

(e) Students should be told to report special factors and circumstances affecting their academic performance to members of staff in the Department concerned.

(3) Examinations and Assessment

Every Department should inform students of the procedures that will be used by its Board of Examiners. This information should include:

(a) the contribution of each piece of assessed work to the outcome of each module, and their degree programme as a whole.

(b) the regulations that will be applied by the Board of Examiners in making decisions about progression within a programme of study; whether to make an award; and the classification of award to be made.

(4) Appeals

Refer to General Regulation VII Academic Appeals.

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Complaint Procedure for Students


Sometimes, despite its best endeavours, the University does not get things right for you, and this Complaint Procedure is one of the ways the University can correct mistakes when the University needs to. Most complaints can be resolved easily and quickly when the University knows something has not been done in the way it should and, when this happens, the University welcomes the opportunity to put things right.

You can take your complaint straight to your College, academic department, or support service to explain what has gone wrong (see section 21). If you are not satisfied with the outcome or if you do not want to contact your College, academic department, or support service, you can still go on to make a written complaint under this Procedure (see section 22) and send it to the Student Conduct Office to be dealt with. 

Every complaint that the Student Conduct Office receives is given to a named Case Manager, who will be in contact with you and keep you informed of the way your Complaint is being dealt with. You can ask your Case Manager questions and ask for updates.

As a first step after your complaint has been received, the Student Conduct Office will, if it is necessary, help you to set out your complaint in a way to make it easy (and, we hope, quick) for an investigator to look at (see section 23).

The Student Conduct Office will send your complaint directly to the department of the University you are complaining about. (This is called 'The Early Resolution Stage'.) The department will have 21 days to try and resolve the matter (section 24). If you are not satisfied with the outcome, you can then ask for your complaint to be investigated formally by an investigator. In exceptional cases, your complaint may be sent to an investigator without going through the Early Resolution Stage. 

Your investigator will have 42 days to write a report into your complaint. Occasionally in the case of complicated complaints, it may take longer than 42 days to get the report to you - but investigators do try very hard to keep to the deadline. We will let you know if there is likely to be a delay and we will give you an estimate of how long we think the delay will be. 

If you are unhappy with the investigator's conclusions, you can ask for the investigation report to be reviewed (section 33). Section 42 explains what you can then do if you remain dissatisfied after exhausting all the University's procedures.

If you have any questions about this Procedure, please do get in touch with the Student Conduct Office (

Please note

  1. This Procedure has been written in plain English to make the Procedure easy to understand.
  2. Words that are italicised and with a capitalised first letter in the remainder of this Procedure (such as the word 'Complainant') are defined and explained in the section called 'Definitions' in the last section of this Procedure.
  3. The Student Conduct Office may agree to extend the deadlines set out in this Procedure if the Complainant has a disability registered with the University's Disability Support service if the disability affects the Complainant's ability to meet the deadline.
  4. Complainants are expected to adhere to the University's Code of Practice on Student Behaviour in Appeals and Complaints 

Whom is this Procedure for?

(1) This Procedure may be used by

(a) Individual Students; or

(b) Groups of Students who wish to complain about the same matter and who jointly submit a complaint.

(2) When a group of Students submits a complaint, the University will ask the group to nominate one of the Complainants to act as a group representative. The University will communicate only with the group representative and expects the group representative to liaise with the other Complainants in the group.

What is this Procedure for?

(3) Complaints may be about

(a) The University's Action (or lack of Action) in relation to a matter concerning the Student; or

(b) The Student's experience of the standard of Service provided by or on behalf of the University

(c) An academic department, college, finance service, or professional support service

(d) The adequacy of supervision, the arrangements for teaching, or the arrangements for summative assessments.

What is this Procedure not for?

(4) This Procedure does not cover the following (for which other University procedures exist, as shown in the links below):

(a) Appeals relating to Board of Examiners or other relevant committee or officers' decisions relating to examinations, assessments, or academic progress or against expulsion or exclusion on academic grounds (including decisions about Academic Progress Notices Academic Appeals Procedure

(b) Complaints involving an allegation of Misconduct by a Student Student Discipline Procedure

(c) Complaints relating to the behaviour of an individual 

(d) Complaints involving an allegation of sexual violence 

(e) Complaints about admissions decisions, Admissions Regulations

(5) Except in exceptional circumstances at the sole discretion of the University, the University will not consider complaints under this Procedure if:

(a) Complaints are made more than 28 Days after the Actions and Services to which the complaints refer or following unsatisfactory outcome of an informal attempt at resolution;

(b) The Complainant does not personally raise the complaint;

(c) The complaint is anonymous;

(d) The complaint is frivolous, vexatious, or motivated by malice.

(6) A complaint may be made even if legal, court, or tribunal proceedings have been commenced, or if a Police investigation into a matter related to the complaint is being undertaken. In such cases, however, the University will usually suspend the investigation of a complaint pending the outcome of the legal, court, or tribunal proceedings or the Police investigation.

(7) Students are not permitted to initiate more than one formal procedure simultaneously for the same or related matters. If this occurs, the Student Conduct Office will advise the Student on: 

(a) The appropriate procedure to follow; or 

(b) The order in which the procedures are to be followed.


8. When appropriate, a Complainant may seek advice from:

(a) The Complainant's College Student Support Office;

(b) Academic staff;

(c) The Students' Union (see in particular Behavioural Discipline @ Durham SU which offers independent advice or advocacy.

(9) Complainant may seek advice from the Student Conduct Office ( on complaints' procedures and processes in relation to this Procedure.


(10) In any meeting held with University staff under this Procedure, a Complainant has the right to be accompanied by a current member of the University community or a Students' Union representative. The University does not normally permit legal representation at such meetings but will consider requests by complainants for legal representation at the meetings. The decision as to whether to permit legal representation will be taken by the University Secretary (or the University Secretary's nominee) and will be at the University's sole discretion.

(11) The University does not consider it necessary for Students to seek independent legal advice in respect of complaints. It is entirely at Students' discretion and cost if they choose to do so.

Principles of Complaints' Investigations

(12) Complaints will be dealt with efficiently and promptly; however, if the issues are very complex, this may result in a delay to the outcome of the Investigation.

(13) Complaints will be investigated objectively and independently.

(14) The standard of proof in the investigation of complaints is the balance of probabilities, that is, that the matters alleged in the complaint can be shown as more likely than not to be true.

(15) Complainants will be given reasoned outcomes in written form.

(16) If a complaint is upheld, the University will seek to provide an appropriate response and correct any mistakes or misunderstandings.

(17) The University will use its best endeavours to make changes in response to the recommendations of Investigators.

(18) Complainants will not be disadvantaged, penalised, or victimised for making a complaint. However, the University reserves the right to take action against a Complainant if Misconduct by the Complainant is disclosed in the course of an investigation. 

(19) Investigators and Reviewers will use their best endeavours to meet the deadlines set out in this Procedure. If it seems likely that a deadline cannot be met, a Complainant will be informed, given reasons, and provided with a revised date that is anticipated for completion.

(20) All complaints will be dealt with in confidence. However, Complainants should note:

(a) The Respondent of a complaint (whether about an individual or section of the University) will receive a copy of the complaint and has the right to respond to it;

(b) Respondents will be informed of the outcome of a complaint;

(c) Third Parties will be consulted if, in the opinion of the Investigator or Panel of Investigators, their views or opinions may be relevant to the investigation of a complaint.

Resolving Complaints Directly

(21) As a first step to making a complaint under this Procedure, Students are urged to seek to resolve their complaints directly. To this end, a complaint relating to:

(a) An academic department should usually be discussed with a Department Manager, Academic Advisor, or Head of Department;

(b) A college should usually be discussed with a member of the College's Student Support Office;

(c) University administrative or support services should usually be discussed with the head of that service.

Making a Formal Complaint

(22) If a Student wishes to make a formal complaint, the Student should complete a University Complaint Form for Students (see Student Complaints) and submit the Form to the Student Conduct Office ( which will, subject to paragraphs 23-26, initiate an investigation of the complaint.

(23) Within 7 Days of the Student Conduct Office receiving a Complaint Form, the Student Conduct Office will acknowledge receipt of a Complaint Form and undertake some of or all the following:

(a) Ask the Complainant to complete fully, correct, clarify, simplify, shorten, or provide better evidence of some of or all the matters complained about;

(b) Ask the Complainant if the Complainant would like the complaint to be dealt with by mediation and conciliation, that is, by a voluntary process where an impartial, independent third party helps the parties involved in the complaint to resolve issues confidentially and subject to an agreed timescale (see Durham University Mediation Service;

(c) Interview the Complainant;

(d) Advise the Complainant of a different procedure to follow;

(e) In most cases, send the Complaint Form to an appropriate person (or, if the complaint is about more than one issue, to appropriate people) in the college, academic department, administrative or support service which is the subject of the complaint;

(f) Take such other action which, in the opinion of the Student Conduct Office, is helpful or reasonable for addressing the complaint;

(g) Initiate an investigation of the complaint.

Early Resolution Stage

(24) Where the Complaint Form is sent to an appropriate person (or, if the complaint is about more than one issue, to appropriate people) in the college, academic department, administrative or support service which is the subject of the complaint (see 23 (e) above):

(a) An Early Resolution Stage of the complaint is to be conducted with the aim of seeking a resolution of the complaint;

(b) The Complainant may be invited to discuss the complaint as part of the Early Resolution Stage;

(c) Within 21 Days, the college academic department, or administrative support service will by email notify the Complainant and the Student Conduct Office ( of the outcome of the Early Resolution Stage and the reasons for the outcome.

(25) On completion of the Early Resolution Stage, if Complainants are dissatisfied with the outcome, Complainants may inform the Student Conduct Office ( that they would like their complaints to be investigated under the Forma Stage of this Procedure.

(26) The Student Conduct Office will not usually initiate an investigation of a complaint under the Formal Stage of this Procedure unless the Early Resolution Stage has been completed.

Formal Stage

(27) When the Student Conduct Office initiates the investigation of a complaint under the Formal Stage of this Procedure, the Student Conduct Office will:

(a) Appoint and then refer the complaint to an Investigator who is independent of the Complainant and the subject-matter of the complaint; or 

(b) Refer the complaint to a Panel of Investigators whose members shall be independent of the Complainant and the subject-matter of the complaint.

(28) The Investigator or Panel of Investigators or (on behalf of the Investigator or Panel of Investigators) the Student Conduct Office may:

(a) Ask to interview the Complainant and other relevant parties as part of the Formal Stage;

(b) Take other appropriate action to investigate the complaint expeditiously and fairly, taking into consideration the nature of the complaint.

(29) The Student Conduct Office will use its best endeavours to ensure that the Complainant receives an Investigation Report within 42 Days of the Student Conduct Office initiating a Formal Stage investigation under paragraph 27 of this Procedure. If there is likely to be a delay, the Complainant will be informed of the reason and a revised timescale given.

(30) Possible outcome recommended in the Investigation Report include:

(a) The complaint (or part of it) is upheld or dismissed;

(b) A resolution reached in co-operation with the department, college, finance or professional support service which is the subject of the complaint;

(c) Compensation may be recommended;

(d) An apology given;

(e) Recommendations for change are made to the relevant decision-making body of the University;

(f) Such other outcomes as the Investigator or Panel of Investigators considers appropriate in the circumstances.

(31) When a complaint is upheld, the University will explain how and when it will implement any remedy.

(32) The Investigation Report will also give information about:

(a) The Complainant's right to request a Review of the outcome of the investigation of the complaint;

(b) The grounds on which a Complainant may request a Review;

(c) The time limit for requesting a Review;

(d) The procedure for requesting a Review;

(e) Where and how to access support.


(33) If a Complainant is dissatisfied with the outcome of the Formal Stage, the Complainant may request a Review of the Formal stage Investigation Report by writing to the Student Conduct Office ( within 14 Days of receiving the Investigation Report.

(34) Reviews are to be requested using the Non-Academic Appeal or Request Form, to be found at Student Complaints

(35) The only grounds of requesting a Review are:

(a) The identification of a procedural irregularity during the Formal Stage; or 

(b) Provision of new material evidence together with a valid reason why it was not previously submitted; or

(c) The outcome of the Formal Stage was unreasonable in all the circumstances of the case.

(36) The request for a Review will be acknowledged within 7 Days and a Reviewer appointed to conduct the Review.

(37) An Investigator who has had no previous involvement with the complaint and who is independent of the Complainant will review the Investigation Report as Reviewer.

(38)Reviewer may seek further information as part of the Review; however, a Reviewer will not usually consider the issues afresh or undertake a further investigation.

(39) The Student Conduct Office will use its best endeavours to ensure that the Complainant receives a Review Report within 28 Days of a request for a Review being received. If there is likely to be a delay, the Complainant will be informed of the reason and a revised timescale given.

(40) If a Reviewer upholds one or more aspects of a Review, the Complainant will be provided with information about outcomes (such as those set out in paragraph 30 above), which may include a new Investigation of the complaint by an Investigator or a Panel of Investigators not previously involved with the complaint or Complainant.

(41) There are no other opportunities for the complaint to be pursued within the University.

(42) The Complainant will be given a Completion of Procedures Letter and informed of the right to submit a complaint to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education, the time limit within which to do so, and where and how to access advice and support.


  • 'Action' is an action (or lack of action) in relation to a matter concerning a Student
  • 'Complainant' is a Student who completes and submits a complaint to
  • 'Complaint Form' is University Complaint Form for Students (see Student Complaints)
  • 'Completion of Procedures Letter' is a letter which the University will send to a Complainant when the Complainant has reached the end of the University's internal processes for complaints and where there is no further avenue for the Complainant internally to pursue a Complaint.
  • 'Day' means calendar day.
  • 'Early Resolution Stage' is a review of a complaint in a Complaint Form that is conducted by an appropriate person in a college, academic department, administrative or support service.
  • 'Formal Stage' is the investigation of a complaint by an Investigator or Panel of Investigators
  • 'Investigation Report' is a report of the outcome of investigations by an Investigator or Panel of Investigators
  • 'Investigator' is a person selected and appointed to investigate complaints.
  • 'Misconduct' is behaviour that is deemed in breach of University Regulations, Codes of Practice and/or Policies.
  • 'Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education' is an independent body set up to review students complaints about higher education providers in England and Wales. See Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education
  • 'Panel of Investigators' is a group of two or three Investigators who meet twice-termly and (if necessary) once during the summer vacation to investigate complaints and to consider, approve, or amend investigation reports drafted by the Student Conduct Office on behalf of the Panel of Investigators. The role of the Student Conduct Office is to support and facilitate the work of the Panel of Investigators.
  • 'Respondent' is the person or section of the University who or which is the subject of a complaint.
  • 'Review' is a review of an Investigation Report conducted by a Reviewer.
  • 'Reviewer' is an Investigator who had been appointed to review an Investigation Report.
  • 'Review Report' is a Reviewer's report of a Review.
  • 'Service' is a Student's experience of the standard of service provided by or on behalf of the University.
  • 'Student' means a currently registered student or student who has left the University within the preceding 28 Days. Students on programme validated by the University have the right to request a Review under this Procedure, provided they have first completed the informal and formal procedures for complaints in their home institutions.
  • 'Third Party' is any party who is not a Student or a member of the University community.

Student Complaints Procedure Flow Chart

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Controlled Drugs: A Code of Practice

The purpose of this code is to ensure that students are aware of the law with regard to the supply, use and possession by students of controlled drugs, with the overall objective of minimising the harmful effects of these substances.

Controlled Drugs1

(1) The University does not allow, in any way, the use of controlled drugs. The possession of controlled drugs is a criminal offence and the possession with intent to supply is a more serious offence. The University would break the law if it permitted controlled drugs to be used or supplied on its property.

(2) The University will not tolerate the use of, or dealing in, controlled drugs on its property. Any students found to be using or in possession of any controlled drug, including cannabis, on University premises will be subject to its disciplinary procedures and the police will be informed.

(3) The University will inform the police of any student suspected of dealing in drugs. We also reserve the right to inform the police about students found to be using or in possession of drugs.

University Disciplinary Procedures2

The University's disciplinary procedures are set out under Section IV of the General Regulations. Major offences include:

  • Serious instances of disorderly conduct causing serious damage to or on University property or premises or seriously affecting good order within or without the University;
  • Conduct which brings the University into serious disrepute, by causing serious reputational damage;
  • Possession of controlled drugs;
  • Offences against the Criminal Law.

A major offence may be punished by rustication (exclusion from the University for one year) or expulsion from the University3.

The University cannot and will not condone any controlled activity committed on University premises but it will endeavour to respond considerately to students who accept that they are having problems related to the use of controlled drugs, provided that the individual concerned co-operates with such treatment and care plans as may be developed for them by health care professionals or other appropriate agencies4.

1 Students and their Visitors affected by these issues are advised to review the advice issued by the National Health Service (NHS) and the Public Health England concerning the significant health effects of drug abuse. The NHS pages also outline the counselling and treatment options that are available, see:


2 Within the legal jurisdiction of “England and Wales”, the law regulating dangerous and otherwise harmful drugs is the “Misuse of Drugs Act 1971”



This legislation defines the concept of criminal offence that underpins the University’s obligation to make a report to the Police. The legal sanctions available to the State are outlined by the Home Office at and all staff, students and visitors are advised that these may be enforced after conviction of drug abuse or selling.


3 Durham University is a collegiate university, with 16 colleges admitting students. If an incident of student misconduct involving illegal drugs arises that is not in violation of the law or a major offence under the University’s General Regulations, the college may apply its own regulations and disciplinary processes to the student member of the college. 


4 In addition the Durham University Counselling Service offers help and guidance and counselling on addictive behaviours, including for drug and alcohol abuse, both in terms of outlining the various counselling options (for example Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) and health risks. The Counselling Service also has participation agreements with local health providers to widen the range of services that students can access. Additionally the Counselling Service will work with individuals not-only on the actual substance abuse concerns, but also on the underlying motivators s that may have led to this abuse. A description of the services offered by the University Counselling can be found at:

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Freedom of Expression in Relation to Meetings or Other Activities: A Code of Practice


This Code of Practice has been developed to assist staff and students who are involved in the organisation of activities that have the potential to compromise the University’s commitment to freedom of expression within the law and/or the health and safety of staff, students and visitors to the University. It sets out the University’s expectations and the processes to be followed to ensure that activities[1] which are affiliated to, funded or branded as associated with Durham University that fall within the remit of this code of practice can be given due consideration to ensure that they do not contravene the University’s commitment in respect of freedom of expression and/or its obligations to ensure the health and safety of its community.


The University’s duty to secure freedom of expression within the law extends to the Students’ Union premises and for this reason this Code of Practice applies to activities that take place there. This Code applies to activities affiliated to, funded or branded as associated with Durham University that take place both on and outside of University premises, including the land and precincts around the University. The University will seek to uphold its commitment to freedom of expression within the law, and will only impose conditions where legitimate concerns regarding the legality of the event and/or the safety of participants are justified. 


Durham SU, the University’s recognised students’ union, is an independent organisation which supports activities not affiliated with, funded by, branded as associated with, or on the premises of Durham University. As such, this Code of Practice does not cover the full range of the students’ unions activities. Durham SU will publish its own Freedom of Expression statement, which will support the University in meeting the expectations of this Code.


The University also recognises its responsibility to protect the freedom of expression of academics and other staff. The University will not allow complaints and protests to result in limitations on course content or speaker events organised by academic staff and reserves the right, where appropriate, to take disciplinary action against its members who engage in activities that do not allow legitimate free speech to take place and/or contravene the principle of academic freedom.


Durham University Policy Statement on Freedom of Expression is available here.

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The Code of Practice

1. This Code of Practice applies to all staff and students who wish to host an activity that is affiliated to[2], funded/partially funded by, or branded as Durham University, to distribute written or on-line materials, or undertake any other activity which is covered by this Code. 

2. This Code of Practice is issued by, and with the authority of, the Council as governing body of the University with a view to taking all reasonable steps to ensure that freedom of expression within the law is secured for members, students and employees of the University and for visiting speakers. It aims to assist the University in discharging its duty under the Equality Act (2010), and in general to promote good relations within the University. It also enables the University to respond to the Prevent Duty detailed within Section 26(I) of the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015 which places a statutory duty on the University to have due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism.

3. The procedures set out below must be followed by students and staff of the University and persons hiring venues in the University in respect of meetings or any other similar activities. They cover the conduct required of all persons in connection with any such meetings or activities.

4. Members, students and employees of the University who are planning activities off the University’s premises but which are clearly affiliated to, funded or branded as associated with the University and engage the provisions of this code, must familiarise themselves with the code and follow the requirements laid down within it. 


5. The Council authorises the University Secretary to act on its behalf to ensure as far as is reasonably practicable that all staff and students of the University, and all visiting speakers, comply with the provisions of this Code. The University Secretary may further delegate his/her authority in general or in particular instances to other members of staff of the University, and, in the absence of the University Secretary, another member of the University’s Executive Committee may act on his/her behalf.

6. The University Secretary is supported by the Director of Student Support and Wellbeing in the administration of this Code of Practice. The Director of Student Support and Wellbeing acts as a first point of contact for any member of the University community who may wish to be involved in an activity that engages the provisions of the code. The Director of Student Support and Wellbeing can be contacted at or by telephone on 0191 334 6120. In the absence of the Director of Student Support and Wellbeing, the Head of the Student Conduct Office will fulfil this role. 


Activities and Meetings Which Must be Notified to the University Secretary

7. Any activity, including but not limited to holding a meeting or a demonstration, or distributing leaflets or other written or on-line material, which is likely to engage the provisions of this Code must be notified in writing to the University Secretary at least 7 days before the activity is due to take place.

8. In considering whether or not to permit an activity to go ahead, the University Secretary, on behalf of the University, shall consider and take advice on the following matters:

a) whether the views or ideas to be put forward (or the manner of their expression):

i) discriminate against any individual or group (with a protected characteristic) on any of the grounds of discrimination provided in the Equality Act 2010. Formal requests for gender segregation at meetings (save for those solely used for religious worship or practice) is prohibited on these grounds in accordance with the Equality and Human Rights Commission guidance[3];

ii) are to be presented by any person who has previously been prevented from delivering a speech at the University; or

iii) incite hatred or are considered within the law to be obscene or grossly defamatory.

b) whether the activity in question:

i) constitutes a criminal offence;

ii) constitutes a threat to public order or to the health and safety of individuals;

iii) incites others to commit criminal acts;

iv) incites others to hatred; or

v) brings the possibility of disruption or disorder because of the timing or location of the activity and its coincidence with other local or national occasions or events.

9. The second key test is whether adequate arrangements can be made to ensure the safety of participants in the activity, and other people within the vicinity, and to ensure that public order is maintained.

10. The organisers of the activity shall ensure that a ‘Principal Organiser[4]’ is appointed who must be a current member of staff or student of the University and who will be responsible for ensuring that the organisers comply with the obligations placed upon them under this Code of Practice[5]. If the activity concerned involves a meeting or other type of gathering then the Principal Organiser and/or the person responsible for processing the booking of rooms or space are taken to have read and agreed by the provisions of this Code of Practice. The Principal Organiser shall ensure that appropriate information is provided on the booking form regarding the nature and topic of the meeting.

11. The Principal Organiser is normally required to inform the University Secretary as far as possible in advance and, in any case at least 7 days in advance of any activity which falls within the provisions of this Code. This will allow him/her to ensure that any necessary arrangements are made, where there are reasonable grounds to believe that:

a) The activity may be disrupted (to the extent that public order is not maintained, the law may be broken, or the safety of participants/others in the vicinity is not guaranteed) due to:

i) The public profile of the speaker; or

ii) The nature of any subjects to be discussed or contained in written material; or

iii) The views or beliefs (whether or not related to the activity) of any person attending; or

iv) The coincidence of the activity with another activity.

b) The personal safety or property of any person attending, proceeding to or leaving the activity may be at risk by reason of their involvement in the activity; or

c) Intimidation, duress or harassment might be applied to any person in an attempt to prevent their attending the activity.

Action to be Taken by the University Secretary

12. The Principal Organiser shall, on request, provide the University Secretary with such information as he/she may require. The University Secretary will request the completion of a Freedom of Expression booking form, a copy of which is attached to this Code as Appendix A where an activity falls within the remit of this Code. The University Secretary will also seek advice from the Free Speech Group (membership details may be found at Appendix B) as to whether the activity can safely go ahead.

The Group will be convened by the Director of Student Support and Wellbeing/Head of the Student Conduct Office and will make recommendations to the University Secretary. Any advice received will be used by the University Secretary to make a final decision, which will be communicated to the Principal Organiser, wherever possible, no later than two days before the planned activity. 

13. On receiving such information as he/she requires, the University Secretary shall have the following options:

a) Indicate that he/she is content for the activity to go ahead without taking any action; or

b) Lay down such special conditions as he/she considers necessary for the holding of the activity; or

c) Indicate that he/she does not consider it possible, within the resources reasonably available to the University, for the proposed meeting to take place within the law and in accordance with this Code. Therefore the activity is proscribed from taking place.

14. The University Secretary’s decision will be communicated to the Principal Organiser in writing no later than two days before the planned activity. 

15. Failure or refusal to observe the University Secretary's ruling will result in disciplinary action as noted in paragraph 27 below.

Special Conditions or Arrangements that may be Required

16. The University Secretary may lay down such special conditions as he/she considers necessary. These may include (but are not limited to):

a) a requirement that the activity be ticket only and/or a restriction on the numbers of people attending;

b) that an adequate number of suitable stewards must be available, in addition to any University security staff that the University Secretary may feel should be present to maintain good order;

c) special arrangements for the chairing of a meeting, and as to the circumstances in which the meeting may or must be terminated prematurely;

d) that the activity be restricted to staff and students of the University[6];

e) imposing conditions on whether and how the activity is advertised;

f) varying the time and location of the activity from the original request;

g) refusing admission to media representatives.

17. In addition, the University Secretary has discretion to require any further and subsequent conditions, where appropriate, after consultation with the police for example, requiring the meeting or activity to be declared public (which would permit a police presence). Alternatively all security arrangements connected with the meeting or activity may be handled by the University’s Business Resilience Manager (or delegate) who will deal with safety concerns for the occasion.

18. The University Secretary will normally require the organisers of the activity to meet any reasonable costs incurred as a result of any special conditions or arrangements required by the University Secretary.

19. If the University Secretary permits an activity to go ahead in accordance with this Code, the Principal Organiser must immediately notify the University Secretary of any material changes to an approved activity; for example if there was a change in the speakers who had been approved for a debate. Failure to disclose any material changes may be regarded as a major offence for students under the University’s Disciplinary Regulations, whilst staff may be subject to disciplinary action. 

20. The Principal Organiser should also share a copy of the Policy Statement and this Code of Practice with the speaker(s) concerned to ensure that the University’s position and protocols are clearly understood.

21. The Principal Organiser must also inform the University Secretary of any concerns relating to any activities which fall within the remit of this Code, and is required to report back following the completion of the activity, even if there is nothing of concern to report.

22. Notwithstanding the provisions contained within this Code, where an activity takes place which generates concerns received by either the Director of Student Support and Wellbeing or the University Secretary, the University Secretary can request that a senior officer of the University should undertake a review of the activity in question, and bring a report on the findings to UEC.

Request for a Review

23. If the Principal Organiser considers that the request to undertake an activity under the terms of the Code of Practice has not been handled in accordance with the practices of the Code they can request a review. They can do this by writing to the Chair of Council within 14 days of receipt of the outcome of the decision in relation to the activity. The request must state the grounds for requesting a review. 

24. The Chair of Council (or their Deputy in his/her absence) may seek any further information they require to reach a view on the request. If the review is upheld, the Chair of Council will ensure that appropriate action is taken to remedy the situation and will inform the Principal Organiser in writing of the outcome. If the review is dismissed then the Principal Organiser will be informed in writing of this and there will be no further opportunity to pursue the matter within the University.

Arrangements for Booking Rooms and off campus activities

25. Each Booking Authority[7] shall introduce or modify booking forms in order that the attention of organisers of meetings or other activities is drawn to this Code. Each Booking Authority shall be responsible for ensuring that those who operate room bookings within their jurisdiction are aware of and fulfil their personal responsibilities under this Code.

Reporting and Infringements of the Code of Practice

26. The University’s Executive Committee will receive a report annually on the number and type of activities considered in relation to this Code as part of the Office for Students annual assurance monitoring process. The University Secretary may recommend any changes to the Code at any time. Any substantive changes to the Code arising from the annual review are reported to Council for consideration and approval. The Students’ Union will provide a report to the University on its engagement with its own arrangements for freedom of expression as part of its annual assurance process.

27. The University Secretary shall report to Council the circumstances of any significant infringements of, and departures from, the provisions of this Code. Infringements of, or departures from, these procedures by staff and students, will render them liable to disciplinary action. As noted in the preamble above, this includes staff and students who engage in activities that do not allow legitimate free speech to take place and/or contravene the principle of academic freedom. If infringement is by a student they may be liable to disciplinary action and their actions may be regarded as a major offence under the University's Disciplinary Regulations. If infringement is by those hiring accommodation on University premises, there may be an immediate termination of the agreement to use the University premises.

28. Where any infringement of the Code results in breaches of the law, the University will report these to the appropriate prosecuting authorities and assist the relevant authorities to implement the process of law.

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Appendix A

The University Secretary will request that the following form is completed in relation to those activities which fall within the scope of the Code, to help facilitate a judgement about whether or not an activity can go ahead in accordance with the Code of Practice.

Name and contact details of the Principal Organiser


Name and details of the activity requested in accordance with the code

Name and details of any visiting speakers – what organisation do they represent? Have they spoken at the University before or at another higher education institution?


Date, time and place of meeting or activity


Overview of the activity – for example the subject matter, appointed chairperson etc.


What topic will any external speakers be talking about?


How will the activity be advertised?


The numbers expected to attend (staff, students, members of the University, guests, general public)


Conditions applying to the activity (will it be ticketed? Open to the public?)


Do the organisers have any reason to believe that there may be a threat of disruption caused by the proposed meeting or activity and what is the substance of that threat?


Any other reason known to the Principal Organiser or others involved in organising the event as to why issues may arise with any external speaker(s). 


Will members of the press, TV or radio be permitted to attend?


Is the activity being sponsored? If so, who by? 

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Appendix B

In reaching a decision about whether an activity can go ahead, the University Secretary will receive recommendations from the Free Speech Group, which is made up of the following people: 

  • The Director of Student Support and Wellbeing (convener)
  • The Deputy Provost
  • The Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Education)
  • The Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Deputy Warden
  • The Head of the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Unit
  • The President of the Students’ Union (or his/her representative)
  • A representative of Council

It is anticipated that input from the Group will, on most occasions, be sought by email although meetings may be called if the situation demands it.

The following individuals may also be consulted by the Free Speech Group in recognition of their particular areas of expertise:

  • The Principal Organiser
  • The Chief Executive of the Students’ Union
  • The Security and Resilience Manager
  • The Head of Legal Services
  • The Chair of the Safeguarding Operations Group
  • The Chaplains
  • The Director of Marketing and Communications
  • Local Police
  • The BIS Regional Prevent Co-ordinator
  • Higher Education Institutions known to have hosted or refused activities previously
(Last reviewed January 2020)

[1] Activities refer to events including, but not limited to, meetings, demonstrations, debates, marches etc.


[2] For clarity, activities which are affiliated to the University include those arranged by the Union Society, Common Rooms Recognised Common Rooms in Maintained Colleges of the University. Some activities run by the Students’ Union will be affiliated with the University and fall under this code.


[3] EHRC (2014) Gender Segregation at Events and Meetings: Guidance for Universities and Students’ Unions (Available online at


[4] If the activity concerned involves the publication and/or distribution of written material that is likely to engage the provisions of this Code, then the ‘’Principal Organiser’’ shall be identified as either the author of the material and/or the person responsible for co-ordinating the dissemination of material on the University’s premises or via its electronic infrastructure.


[5] For the purposes of this code, the definition of staff and student includes the Sabbatical Officers and staff members of the Students’ Union.


[6] The University is under no legal obligation to allow meetings to be open to members of the public.


[7] A Booking Authority is responsible for accepting and monitoring bookings, for a specific room or multiple rooms in university premises. They include the Students’ Union, Event Durham, Maintained Colleges and Societies and their common rooms, Recognised Colleges and their common rooms, Academic Departments, Durham Union Society, Experience Durham and Student Planning and Assessment.

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Notification of Misconduct to the Police and Internal Action: A Code of Practice


(1) Any member of the University who has reasonable suspicion that a student may be involved in criminal conduct should bring the matter to the attention of the Academic Registrar or another Nominated Officer. This Code is designed to give guidance as to when misconduct should be reported to the Police and how the matter should be handled internally. Where reference to the Police is a matter of judgement, the Academic Registrar1 should be consulted.

It should be noted straightaway however, that:

(a) Double jeopardy does not arise if an alleged criminal offence is also considered as a possible breach of University Discipline regulations (because the Courts have determined that there is no parity between criminal law and a University disciplinary hearing).

(b) Allegations of serious criminal offences should be referred to the Police, because University discipline regulations cannot be used as an alternative to Police action.

(c) It may be necessary for a member of the University to notify the Police immediately where a potentially serious crime is in progress or the nature of an allegation of criminal misconduct (e.g. terrorism, threat to vital interests of a member of the University or wider community, repeated or risk of further criminal activities) requires immediate Police intervention.

(d) The University would not normally report an allegation of a crime against the wishes of a victimHowever in exceptional circumstances, the University reserves the right to refer serious criminal allegations to the Police against the wishes of the victim, where it believes that the health, safety or security of the victim, members of the University community or the wider community are at risk.

(e) The code covers behaviour or actions which may constitute misconduct in relation to hate crimes against members of the University community.


(2) Where the alleged offence is not a serious criminal offence and the Police would be unlikely to act (eg slight damage to University property or resources, minor assault or a scuffle) the matter should be dealt with internally by an Authorised University Officer under disciplinary procedures. If, however, someone, eg an aggrieved student, has already reported the matter to the Police, University discipline procedures would normally wait until the Police had concluded their investigation.

(3) Where the alleged offence is a serious criminal offence and the Police would be likely to act (eg supplying controlled drugs, allegations of rape or sexual assault2, other serious offence against the person, theft of significant sums) the following process should take place:

(a) Offence on University property: to be reported by the Authorised University Officer to the Academic Registrar for guidance on appropriate steps to take. 

(b) Offence taking place during a University activity off-campus, e.g. fieldwork: The member of staff leading the fieldwork reports to their Head of Department for guidance on the appropriate steps to take. The Academic Registrar1 to be notified as soon as possible.

(c) Offence taking place away from the University and/or not involving a University student or member of staff: person notifying the University of the offence should be advised to report the matter to the Police and the Academic Registrarshould be notified.

(4) The Academic Registrar1 will then consult the Chair or Deputy Chair of Senate Discipline Committee and decide:

(a) whether the offence potentially falls within the University Discipline Regulations and hence whether internal discipline procedures should be started. If started they would normally be adjourned pending the outcome of the Police investigation. However, the fact that criminal proceedings have not concluded does not always preclude the University from taking its own disciplinary action, particularly in relation to allegations of minor criminal offences. Similarly, if the Police are unable or unwilling to proceed with the alleged offence, this also does not always preclude the University from taking disciplinary action.

(b) whether suspension should be considered pending completion of the Police investigation. It should be remembered that suspension is not a sanction. It is a temporary measure to facilitate an investigation to proceed or to protect students and other members of the University whilst the criminal proceedings continue. Alternatives to suspension should therefore be considered where appropriate. 

(c) whether measures identified are reasonable and proportionate to the incident under investigation.

1or other Nominated Officer.

Please also refer to the University’s Sexual Violence and Misconduct Policy in Volume 1 of the University Calendar.

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Student Behaviour in Appeals and Complaints: A Code of Practice

(1) We are committed to dealing with complainants fairly and impartially and to providing a high quality service when investigating appeals and complaints. However we do not expect Durham University staff to tolerate unacceptable behaviour. Therefore this Code of practice sets out the University's approach to the relatively few complainants or appellants whose actions or behaviour we consider to be unacceptable. Consequently, this code of practice should be read in conjunction with the University's General Regulation VII Academic Appeals and the University's Complaints Procedure for Students, both of which are to be found in Durham University Calendar Volume 1. 

(2) For the purposes of this code a "complainant" is a student who either makes a complaint or submits an appeal in accordance with the University's General Regulations or regulations in other University publications. The term complainant also includes anyone who has signed authorisation from a complainant to act on his or her behalf or anyone who contacts the University in connection with a complaint or appeal. 

(3) The principles set out in this code of practice also apply to our dealings with third parties who are not students but who seek to make a complaint against the University or its students. 

(4) Whilst complainants may explore their grievances through initial discussion with University staff, they are normally expected to submit their complaint or appeal in writing in accordance with the relevant appeals or complaints procedure to enable an investigation to be undertaken. However the University will always consider alternative means of communication (other than written communication) in appropriate cases on request. Subsequent queries may be raised by Email or telephone but we normally ask complainants to confirm in writing any comments that they have made to us over the telephone so that the information can be recorded on file. We cannot respond to enquiries from anyone who is not named as a representative by the complainant.

(5) Where a complainant submits multiple complaints on substantially the same issue the University reserves its right to treat the matter as a single complaint or appeal and to decline respond to each separate, subsequent appeal or complaint.

(6) Whilst the University understands that bringing a complaint or an academic or other appeal can be a stressful experience we also recognise our duty to ensure the safety and welfare of our staff and students. Consequently the University has zero tolerance towards complainants whose behaviour is unacceptable and we will take action to protect our staff.

(7) The University's definition of "unacceptable behaviour" might include but is not necessarily restricted to cases in which there is clear evidence that the complainant has behaved in the following inappropriate way(s): 

(a) communicating with the University in an abusive, offensive, defamatory, distressing, aggressive, threatening, coercive or intimidating manner;

(b) engaging in communication which is unreasonably persistent or demanding in terms of its frequency or volume;

(c) submitting an appeal or complaint containing materially inaccurate or false information or evidence;

(d) knowingly making clearly unfounded allegations against a member of the University's staff.

(8) When we consider that the behaviour of a complainant is unacceptable, as a first step, the University will normally tell the complainant why we find their behaviour unacceptable and we will ask them to change it. If the unacceptable behaviour continues, we will take action to restrict their contact with the University.

(9) The decision to restrict contact with the University can be taken by one of the following members of staff or their nominees: the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Education), the Chief Operating Officer (Registrar), Academic Registrar. Any restrictions imposed will be appropriate and proportionate. The options we are most likely to consider are:

  • requesting contact in a particular form (for example letters only);
  • requiring contact to take place with a named officer (complainants should normally write to or telephone only the member of University staff dealing with their complaint or appeal);
  • restricting telephone calls or emails to specified days and times;
  • asking the complainant to appoint a representative to correspond with us; and/or
  • asking the complainant to enter into an agreement about their conduct.

(10) Normally we write to tell the complainant why we believe their behaviour is unacceptable, what action we are taking and the duration of that action.

(11) Where a complainant behaves unacceptably during a telephone conversation, we may as a last resort terminate the call and we may restrict future contact to email or written correspondence.

(12) Where a complainant continues to behave in a way which we consider to be unacceptable, we may decide to seek advice from the University Officers listed in 9 above as to whether University discipline proceedings be initiated (as outlined in General Regulation IV Discipline) or whether it is necessary to terminate contact with the complainant. In exceptional circumstances this may mean that the University is unable to continue with the consideration of the case. Where appropriate, we may issue a completion of procedures letter, advising the complainant of their right to take matters to OIA (if the complainant is a recent student of the University).

(13) Where the behaviour is so extreme that it threatens the immediate safety and welfare of the University's staff, we will consider other options, for example reporting the matter to the Police or taking legal action. In such cases, we may not give the complainant prior warning of that action.

(14) This Code of practice and its use will be reviewed by the Student Experience Sub-Committee at least every three years.

Code of Practice for Durham Students' Union.

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Students Living Out of College: A Code of Conduct

Maintaining Contact with your College  

Students who “live-out” remain, of course, members of their college and are encouraged to enjoy the privileges and responsibilities of membership of their College communities no less than those who “live-in’. In addition to providing a focus for social and recreational life, and a place to collect mail, College is a critically important point of contact with the University on official academic matters, student support issues and, in addition, a medium for emergency messages. It is therefore essential that College be kept informed of each student’s correct term-time address and telephone numbers.


Durham and Stockton are by and large very safe places. However, crime does occur and quite often this is opportunistic and targeted towards students’ residences. Thieves do look for lap top computers, tablets and mobile phones, for example. They very rarely use forced entry but will look for easy opportunities such as windows left open and mobiles and laptops left on display. Please be vigilant and take precautions to protect your property. If you need advice on securing your home do contact your local police office. Please bear in mind the need to walk around town in company late at night. These are just basic precautions and are not meant to imply that you are more at threat as a liver out.

On Being Good Neighbours

Some neighbours may not be familiar with the University or with the pressures and exuberance of student life. You and your housemates may be a local resident’s only contact with the University. The University and all your fellow students will, therefore, be judged by your behaviour. It is extremely important that you establish and maintain good relations with your neighbours (and they with you). The goodwill of all residents is essential for good relations and in any case you will derive greater pleasure from living out if you get on well with your neighbours. Relationships between local residents and students are not necessarily a source of antipathy. Consider joining or supporting your local residents’ association as this will provide you with an opportunity to contribute to your neighbourhood. Remember that you are an important part of the community.


Excessive noise at any time, but particularly late at night, is very un-neighbourly and can cause great distress. It is especially disturbing to those whose working day starts and finishes earlier than yours or who need an undisturbed night, particularly between Sunday night and Friday morning which are for most people their working week. Do please respect the needs of others, particularly in terraced houses with thin walls. Please keep radios, TVs and any other music at low volume. If you have a party at your home, remember to inform your neighbours and to promise them that it will finish at a reasonable, and specified, time. Think about inviting them to your party.

During summer months, please remember that noise from garden parties can be excessive even if this is just normal conversation levels. Fireworks should not be let off late in the evening and certainly not during the early hours of the morning (this can be anti-social and may be interpreted as a criminal offence). You should be aware that any citizen who is repeatedly disturbed by excessive noise or other unacceptable behaviour may also contact the Environmental Health Office or the Police who have extensive powers to deal with anti-social activities.


A significant proportion of complaints received from local residents relates to disorderly behaviour resulting from drunkenness. The easiest way to avoid this type of behaviour is to avoid excessive consumption of alcohol. Many students’ houses do not have front gardens and therefore rowdy and drunken behaviour on the streets causes considerable disturbance and distress to local residents. Unfortunately, this type of rowdy and drunken behaviour has all too regularly led to criminal damage to residents’ properties.

Any incidences of this type will be dealt with robustly by the Police. In extreme circumstances, where the University is deemed to have been brought into serious disrepute, this may lead to disciplinary processes which can lead to a student being required to leave the University.


The other major source of complaint by non-student residents is the inconsiderate use and parking of cars or other vehicles. The default position of General Regulations of the University is that students are not permitted to park on University premises. Residents find it inconvenient and annoying if they can never park in front of their own home because another car is parked there on a long-term basis.

Recycling and Waste

All Livers Out should manage their waste and recycling responsibly. For information on Recycling and Waste collections in your area, view the Recycling Guidelines at: or consult the website of your local council.

Students should please take particular effort to ensure streets are left tidy at the end of term – leaving large piles of waste is unsightly, dangerous and can attract vermin:

  • Sort unwanted items in advance so that you have time to dispose of them appropriately i.e. take unwanted clothing to charity shops, unwanted food to food banks etc. 
  • Avoid overflowing bins by disposing of recycling and waste at regular intervals throughout the term. 
  • Please liaise with neighbours if you will not be around to return your bins to your property after collections. 

The University’s Green Move Out Scheme takes place at the end of the academic year. This Scheme collects students’ unwanted items. These are then distributed to charity or made available to students for reuse at the start of the following year – all donations raised are donated to charity. Information on how to participate in the Green Move Out scheme is available at

University - City Liaison and the Code of Conduct

If action via remonstration proves ineffective (and it is hoped that there will be no such case), the College or University authorities are empowered to deal with the matter as a potential major offence, for which the penalty can be expulsion.

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