The Academic Conduct Office (ACO) is the OBU department that deals with any potential infringements of the University rules or regulations. It exists to maintain the integrity of the University’s degree system and to ensure that all students comply with the expected standards of academic behaviour demanded of a UK university.
Most students will be unaware of its existence so unless there is a specific reason, the majority of people submitting their RAPs will have their result confirmed by the end of September (for the May submissions) and the end of March (for November submissions). However, occasionally a result may be deferred. Most universities in the UK (and other parts of the English speaking world) conduct electronic checks on students’ work as a matter of routine and OBU is no exception. The checks will identify sources that have been used by the student. Normally there is no problem with using another person’s work in this manner PROVIDED it has been properly referenced – referencing is of utmost importance in producing an academic piece of work and there is a significant amount of information relating to it in the Info Pack which you MUST read to avoid failure in the assessment criteria for it and any allegation of plagiarism. The importance of clear, adequate and full referencing therefore cannot be stressed too much.
Occasionally students are not thorough enough with referencing and where another student (either past or present) has used the same source this will be flagged up as potential plagiarism / collusion or copying. In this situation the marker will scrutinise the extent of the similarities and the overall content of the work submitted and is obliged if there are too many instances of identical passages (or paragraphs which in the marker’s opinion are essentially the same but have been re-worded), to refer the student’s work to the Academic Conduct Office. This is the NORMAL procedure in the circumstances in order to safeguard the academic standards of the university and its standing.
In order to protect the integrity of the degree system and the reputation of OBU, upon referral by the marker, the ACO will defer the result pending further investigation. All students concerned will be informed and asked to cooperate with the ACO’s further investigation into what may have gone on. Although this can obviously be a stressful period for the student involved, provided he/she has not deliberately copied or plagiarised, normally after a month or two they will be cleared and the RAP result released. Should you find yourself in the unfortunate position of being the subject of an ACO investigation, then you are advised to be as cooperative as possible. That way the ACO is potentially likely to be more sympathetic towards you than if you decline to help or deny any facts.
The ACO not only have the power to withhold the awarding of a degree to students who are found to be guilty of copying and collusion but that they can withdraw it from anyone who has participated in such behaviour even if they have been awarded the BSc previously. Furthermore as the programme is run in conjunction with ACCA, it is feasible that proven cases of copying will be referred to ACCA as such behaviour obviously contravenes the ACCA Code of Ethics.
However the best way to ensure that you do not become a subject of an ACO investigation is to do your work on your own and not use someone else’s even as a guide thus removing any temptation to incorporate even a small part of it. Couple this with good referencing (required anyway to pass the Assessment Criteria) and you will have nothing to fear should you inadvertently find that your result has temporarily been deferred. If there has been an accidental lapse and you are under investigation there is then the possibility that your behaviour may be treated as reckless rather than deliberate cheating and although you may be failed on referencing that is far better than being precluded from re-submitting and deprived of ever getting the degree….. or reported to ACCA.