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Frequently Asked Questions from Students

  1. Are you going to tell my parents that I committed an academic offence?
  2. If I’m caught committing an academic offence, will I be expelled from the University?
  3. If I get sanctioned at OSAI for an academic offence, will my university career be over?
  4. What if I didn’t know I was committing an offence/didn’t mean to plagiarize?
  5. How do I avoid plagiarism (do I really need to use quotation marks)?
  6. I was sanctioned for working too closely with my friend. I don’t get it – isn’t working together a good way to learn things?
  7. Is it cheating if a tutor helps me with my assignments?
  8. My friend copied my assignment; am I in trouble?
  9. I know lots of students who work together on assignments or cheat on tests but never get caught. Why should I care about the rules?
  10. If I know that someone is cheating, what should I do?
  11. Can I be sanctioned if I’ve already graduated?
  12. My instructor has said that s/he will be pursuing an allegation of academic misconduct against me. What do I do now?
  13. When will I have a meeting with the Dean’s Designate?
  14. Can I bring someone with me to the meeting?
  15. I’m feeling very anxious about this meeting. What should I do?
  16. My transcript has an annotation that is supposed to be removed when I graduate; exactly when can I expect it to be removed?
  17. What if I have other questions?

  1. Are you going to tell my parents that I committed an academic offence?
  2. No. With few exceptions, all of your interactions with the University are confidential unless you give permission. All written correspondence will be e-mailed to your utoronto.ca address. If we cannot reach you by e-mail, we may contact you by phone but won’t provide any information to anyone but you about the reason for the call. We have a page for family, friends and counsel which provides general information about academic integrity and student confidentiality.

  3. If I’m caught committing an academic offence, will I be expelled from the University?
  4. Expulsion is rare and happens in certain cases of very serious offences, or multiple offences, which proceed to University Tribunal. However, for most first offences, failure for the course or reduction in the course grade are more common sanctions. If you are concerned about the possibility of expulsion, talk to your College Registrar as soon as possible about your specific situation.

  5. If I get sanctioned at OSAI for an academic offence, will my university career be over?
  6. No. A sanction will not prevent you from continuing your work, returning to school, or completing your degree. In many cases, a sanction is a reminder to work on improving writing or study habits for your future courses, and to balance your academic commitments. Your College Registrar can help you prepare for possible outcomes and assist you with your academic planning.

  7. What if I didn’t know I was committing an offence/didn’t mean to plagiarize?
  8. The Code says that you have committed an offence if you “ought reasonably to have known” you were committing an offence. The University expects students to learn the rules, policies and regulations which, in some cases, may be very different from what you were used to in high school, and which your instructors work to make you aware of. Remember that “unintentional” plagiarism can happen when you aren’t careful taking notes, or you complete your work in a last-minute rush – this can result in academic misconduct. Take the time to ask questions and do your work carefully, with integrity.

  9. How do I avoid plagiarism (do I really need to use quotation marks)?
  10. When you use someone’s ideas or provide facts/data that are not your own, you must include:

    1. an accurate reference to the source and
    2. a complete entry for the source in a bibliography.

    Improving your paraphrasing skills will help you avoid plagiarism and write a better essay. Paraphrasing does not mean changing a few words in a paragraph of copied texts. You must rewrite the ideas with your own phrasing and vocabulary.

    If you also borrow the source’s words, then in addition to 1 and 2 above, you also need to:

    1. put the source’s words or phrases in quotation marks.

    For more information, see Margaret Procter’s How not to Plagiarize. Authors must get credit for how they say things, as well as for what they say.

  11. I was sanctioned for working too closely with my friend. I don’t get it – isn’t working together a good way to learn things?
  12. Most instructors agree that discussion between students is beneficial and encouraged. However, the work you submit for credit is supposed to be your own, unless group work is explicitly permitted or you acknowledge that you shared ideas with someone else. Unless your assignment requires or specifically allows group submission of work, you must submit individually-composed work. Make sure you know what your instructor expects from you, and if you aren’t sure, ask.

  13. Is it cheating if a tutor helps me with my assignments?
  14. It depends on what “help” you are receiving. If your tutor or editor identifies mistakes in your assignment, gives you feedback, or shows you how to improve your study habits and test-taking skills, that’s OK. Tutors should not be correcting mistakes for you or inserting content into the assignment for you. It is up to you to do that.

  15. My friend copied my assignment; am I in trouble?
  16. Yes. You have committed an offence if you helped or made it possible for someone else to commit one – for example, if you gave or sold someone an essay which he or she submitted as his/her own, or you let someone copy your answers on an exam, test, or assignment. You may even face an allegation of academic misconduct if you loaned your work to another student and s/he submitted it as her/his own work.

    You can help your friends by explaining concepts or helping them learn, but don’t provide them with answers or your own work! You might trust your friends or classmates, but it’s best not to trust anyone with your actual piece of work. Never e-mail an assignment—in part or in whole—to another person.

  17. I know lots of students who work together on assignments or cheat on tests but never get caught. Why should I care about the rules?
  18. Just because there are students who don’t get caught doesn’t make their cheating OK. Academic integrity is about more than just “luck” and playing the odds. It’s about how you make decisions and what values are important to you. Talk to your friends and make sure they know the possible consequences of cheating: both to them, if they get caught, and to other students. Be smart, and make the right decisions for yourself.

  19. If I know that someone is cheating, what should I do?
  20. It can be a tough decision to report another student for dishonest behaviour, but doing so helps make sure that the evaluation system remains fair. If it is in an exam, immediately speak to the instructor or exam official. Or, if it is during the course, contact your instructor with your suspicions so that s/he can look for corroborating evidence to support your observations. In other cases, you can contact OSAI. You may request anonymity, and your request will be honoured, but keep in mind that this may limit the degree to which the allegation can be pursued. The University takes reports like this very seriously and will investigate the matter fully.

  21. Can I be sanctioned if I’ve already graduated?
  22. Even if you have already received your degree, if the offence was committed while you were a student, you can still be sanctioned for that offence. The University has the power to revoke a student's degree!

  23. My instructor has said that s/he will be pursuing an allegation of academic misconduct against me. What do I do now?
  24. Contact your College Registrar. S/he will review what to expect from this point forward in the process. Your College Registrar will also discuss what the potential impact of a sanction could be on your future academic plans and areas you might not have even considered (OSAP, residence, access to student services). There is also information on our I think I’m in Trouble page.

  25. When will I have a meeting with the Dean’s designate?
  26. The Faculty attempts to resolve allegations as quickly as possible, depending on the time of year, volume and complexity of cases, it could take anywhere from two weeks to three or four months. If there is an urgent reason to expedite your case (e.g. you are leaving the country), please inform your College Registrar and contact OSAI.

  27. Can I bring someone with me to the meeting?
  28. Yes. According to section C.1.(a) 6 of the Code, you are entitled to seek or be accompanied by counsel at the meeting. Counsel can be anyone you wish, but note that the Dean’s designate will expect to discuss the matter directly with you. If you would like to consult or bring a lawyer with you, legal assistance is available free of charge to U of T students through Downtown Legal Services. If you plan to bring someone with you, please contact our office immediately so that appropriate accommodations can be made.

  29. I’m feeling very anxious about this meeting. What should I do?
  30. Remember that this meeting is not meant to be an interrogation. Under the Code, it is an opportunity for the Faculty of Arts & Science to present its concerns to you and to provide you with the opportunity to respond. If you are honest and straightforward about what has occurred, then it is reasonable to expect that the meeting will proceed very smoothly.

    It is very important to discuss the meeting with your College Registrar as soon as possible, to discuss possible outcomes and find out what help is available to you. If you are concerned about what you are going to say, you can prepare some brief written notes to bring with you.

  31. My transcript has an annotation that is supposed to be removed when I graduate; exactly when can I expect it to be removed?
  32. Annotations that appear until graduation are typically removed one or two business days after the convocation period in which you have your ceremony (this means your annotation will be removed after the last day even if your ceremony is on the first day). Convocation dates are available from the Office of Convocation. Normally, no action is needed on your part for the removal. On rare occasions, an annotation is not removed when expected; if this happens to you, email OSAI and we will follow up with the appropriate office to have the annotation removed as soon as possible.

  33. What if I have other questions?
  34. Your College Registrar should be able to help you if you have additional questions.

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