If there are any doubts about the behaviour of a student, if a student may put others at risk or be at risk themselves, or if a student has not reached professional standards, they may be invited to a Professional Suitability meeting and ultimately, a Professional Suitabiltity Panel in some cases.
If a Professional Suitability case is being investigated by the police, the student will be suspended until the police investigation finishes.
We would recommend that you take time to read the Group Professional Suitability and Fitness to Practise Procedure before your meeting or hearing in order to understand the processes, potential outcomes and appeals process.
Before the meeting:
If you’re on placement, you will have a meeting with a senior academic before a Pre Professional Suitability Panel (PSP) meeting.
You may be:
- Told about the concerns but allowed to continue on placement
- Withdrawn from your placement or course while an investigation happens.
- Suspended from the University and invited to a Fitness to Practice Panel.
- Referred to another University policy or procedure such as the Student Code of Conduct.
If you are suspended or withdrawn you will be sent written proof of the decision, which will be reviewed every 10 working days. Once the investigation has been completed you may be allowed to return to the original placement, or a different placement, or invited to a Pre- Professional Suitability Panel (Pre-PSP) meeting.
If you are not on placement, you will likely be invited to a Pre-Professional Suitability Panel (Pre-PSP) meeting.
Pre-Professional Suitability Panel (Pre-PSP) Meeting:
You will receive an invitation to a meeting with your Course Director. At the meeting you will have the chance to talk through any concerns, explain your side of the story, show evidence and ask questions. After the meeting, the Course Director will decide whether to take the case to a PSP hearing and you will get a written outcome of the decision, and any notes from the meeting.
Professional Suitability Panel Hearing:
If the Course Director believes the case should go to a PSP Hearing, you will be given at least three weeks to prepare for the meeting. You will be provided with a letter outlining the reason for the Hearing, who will attend, and any evidence. Once you’ve received the letter, you should respond at least one week before the meeting, including:
- Whether you will attend.
- If you will be accompanied and who by.
- Your statement.
- Any evidence you have to support your statement.
- Any extenuating circumstances.
- Any witness statements.
- Names of any witnesses (but you are responsible for inviting them to the Panel).
- Any legal representation. The Panel may make sure their own legal representative is present if you decide to be legally represented. This can cause delays.
You can ask for the meeting to be rescheduled if you are not available.
During the Meeting:
The Panel will present their case and any evidence. You will then respond and present your evidence. Witnesses can then be called first by the University and then by you, if necessary. You can challenge the evidence, ask the witnesses questions, and ask if you don’t understand anything.
The Panel will then have a short break. Once the meeting restarts you will be given an outcome, which can be:
- No case to answer.
- Concerns which could be addressed with conditions and/or a formal written warning.
- Student deemed not fit to practice and terminated from the course.
After the Meeting:
You can appeal the outcome if you are unhappy with it, on the basis of material irregularity or an administrative or procedural error.
The appeal must be made in writing to the Vice-Chancellor within ten working days of the student receiving the PSP Hearing Outcome Letter. The Vice-Chancellor will investigate the circumstances, and decide whether or not to grant the opportunity for appeal:
If the appeal is denied you will receive a Completion of Procedures (COP) letter. Following receipt of this, if you are unhappy with the outcome, the appeal can be escalated to The Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education (OIA). They are an independent body who will assess the case.
How Can Your Advice Service Help You?
If you are invited to a Fitness to Practice meeting please contact us as soon as possible by completing our online enquiry form. Please include any letters that you have received and any evidence that was attached to it (if relevant). Do this as soon as you receive your invite.
If you have attended a Professional Suitability Panel and received an outcome that you are not happy with, please send us the outcome letter, your initial invite letter and any evidence relating to the panel to us by completing our online enquiry form as soon as possible and we can support you through an Appeals process.