The taskforce considered the emerging themes for recommendations based on the evidence submitted by a broad range of stakeholders which included significant scrutiny of the Zellick guidelines. The Final Report of the Task Force on Student Disciplinary Procedures, commonly referred to as the Zellick guidelines, published in 1994 is not statutory. However it is often used by universities to inform their policies on handling circumstances where a student’s alleged misconduct would also constitute a criminal offence.
The UUK taskforce has concluded that there are significant elements of the Zellick guidelines that are still of relevance to universities. However, due to changes in the law, particularly the Equality Act 2010, changes in the wider social environment, including the significant impact of social media, the guidelines should be reviewed and updated to reflect these changes.
Nicola Dandridge, Chief Executive of Universities UK and Chair of the taskforce, said: “The recent establishment of the Universities UK Taskforce has led to some careful examination of the Zellick guidelines. The evidence submitted to the taskforce was overwhelming in its view that while the guidelines have some place in supporting universities, there is a need for them to be refreshed to reflect the changes that have taken place over the last 22 years since the original guidelines were written.
“Since the publication of the guidelines we have seen significant technological changes in how students conduct their relationships, such as the rise in social media. We have also seen changes in the law including the Equality Act 2010 and the Human Rights Acts.
“This review of the guidelines is one element of a larger piece of work on how universities can best respond to incidences of violence, harassment and hate crime.”
The group also considered key themes for the development of recommendations in the final report. Among the issues discussed were the need for:
• clearly signposted, visible and robust reporting mechanisms • an effective, centralised process for recording incidents, collecting data and regularly reviewing this data• appropriately trained staff• effective external relationships which are used to enhance the support provided to students by their university• a cross-institutional approach which is developed collaboratively and with significant input from students (and relevant experts, where necessary)• a zero tolerance culture that sets clear behavioural expectations and is backed up by student disciplinary regulations designed to address behaviour that fails to meet these expectations • supporting students to be agents of change via evidence-based, bystander initiatives• a commitment from senior leadership • drawing on good practice both within the UK and internationally.
The group will meet again June 2016 and the final report is due by autumn 2016.