Violations & Consequences | St. Clair College

Academic misconduct incidents are violations of St. Clair College's Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities and can result in both academic and administrative penalties.

This section provides information about what constitutes academic misconduct, provides examples of academic misconduct, and outlines the penalties and processes the College uses to address academic misconduct.

If you are a student who has received a Notification of Academic Misconduct, also see Student Conduct Notifications.

Academic misconduct is otherwise known as "cheating". Cheating puts honest students at a disadvantage. We must all work together to prevent cheating and ensure a fair learning environment for all students.

Academic misconduct is defined as an act that may result in a false evaluation of the student's academic standing, or which represents an attempt to unfairly gain an academic advantage, where the person knew or ought reasonably to have known that it was misconduct.

Whether or not a student intended to commit academic misconduct is not relevant for a finding of academic misconduct. Students are responsible for verifying the academic integrity of their work before submitting it.

While students should be concerned about the penalties that may come from academic misconduct, such as failing the course, the more serious consequence is that they will lack the knowledge and skills necessary in their chosen field of study. In order to gain understanding and advance learning, students must engage in the learning process honestly.

Academic misconduct is a general term that describes academic offences detrimental to the College's learning environment. These offences diminish the trust that is essential in the teaching and learning process.

The teaching and learning process can be understood as a dialogue between instructor and student that builds on existing knowledge and advances scholarship. If a student falsifies their side of this process, learning is compromised and the foundation upon which knowledge is built is put at risk.

The College takes academic misconduct seriously because it has an obligation to ensure that learning is the basis upon which academic credit is earned.

Plagiarism is the act of copying, reproducing or paraphrasing, in whole or in part, someone else's published or unpublished material (from any source, including the Internet) and representing these works or ideas as one's own. Plagiarism applies to all forms of work presented or submitted for academic evaluation including, but not limited to any written work, computer programming, music, drawings, designs, dance, photography, and other artistic and technical works.

Plagiarism can occur in any type of assignment, including labs, projects, take-home exams, presentations, computer programs, reports, and essays.

Assignment requirements vary from course to course so you should always pay attention to the requirements set out by your instructor for a specific assignment. Different instructors will have different requirements on how to cite sources (provide references for borrowed work), for example.

Despite differences in format, however, the use of external sources must always be referenced. If you use the work of someone else, you cannot pass it on as your own. You must give credit to that work by citing the source. If you don’t, it’s plagiarism.

Note: The use of Generative AI (such as ChatGPT) is covered under Contract Cheating below.

Examples of Plagiarism

  • Cutting and pasting from the Internet without appropriate references
  • Using direct quotations without appropriate references
  • Using paraphrased material without appropriate references
  • Copying parts of work created by someone else and submitting it as one's own
  • Presenting someone else’s idea as your own without appropriate reference

Download a copy of the Academic Integrity Checklist for Assignments (Infographic)

Cheating (Unauthorized External Assistance)

Cheating is generally defined as receiving external assistance in relation to an examination, assignment, or any other academic exercise for credit unless that assistance is expressly permitted by the instructor.

Not following the integrity requirements set during a test is the most common type of misconduct that classifies as cheating but cheating can take other forms.

Examples of Cheating

  • Communicating with any person during an examination other than the instructor/proctor
  • Using or having unauthorized materials or devices in an academic evaluation
  • Putting one’s name on the work of another and submitting it as one's own
  • Improperly obtaining information about an assessment in advance of the evaluation
  • Distributing information about an assessment in advance of its authorized availability to students
  • Using paraphrasing or translation software such that the assignment submitted does not reflect the student's own learning of the material or is not a product of the student's own work

Unauthorized collaboration occurs when a student works with others on graded coursework assigned for individual evaluation. This can happen for any type of course assigned work including, assignments, labs and projects.

If you are not clear about whether an assignment allows collaboration, you should ask your instructor for clarification. You should assume that all coursework is for individual completion unless the instructor has explicitly authorized collaboration or group work.

Note that even if group work is assigned, you are still required to principles of academic integrity. Even in group assignments, copying someone else's work (or allowing someone to copy yours), from your own group or from another group, is academic misconduct.

It is not academic misconduct to form a study group. Students may create a study group to help each other better understand the course material. Study groups can help students prepare for tests, for example, as long as it is not a take-home test where students are working on assigned questions. The difference between allowable study groups and unauthorized collaboration is whether the work you are doing together will be submitted for evaluation. You cannot work on assignments in a study group that are going to be submitted for grading unless you have specific permission from the instructor.

The rules regarding collaboration will be different from course to course and may vary from assignment to assignment. Whether collaboration is allowed will depend on the learning goals of the assessment. An instructor may allow collaboration on one assignment and not on another.

Examples of Unauthorized Collaboration

  • The preparation and production of work between two or more students ultimately submitted by each in an identical or substantially similar form and/or is represented by each to be the product of one's own individual efforts
  • Co-operation between student and another person in the preparation and production of work, which is presented as the student's own
  • Working on take-home work with others
  • Having someone else help to write or re-write an assignment
  • Working out answers to homework assignments with others
  • "Checking" homework answers with others

Misappropriation of own work is a form of academic misconduct that occurs when a student submits the same (or significant amount) of work that was completed in a previous course unless the student has obtained explicit permission from the instructor in advance. If the student wishes to submit similar work in two different courses in the same semester, the student needs permission to do so from both instructors.

Misappropriation of own work applies to work done by the same student in the same course. If a student takes a course and does not complete it (or fails it) and then takes it again, the student cannot submit previously submitted work without authorization from the new instructor.

Misappropriation of own work is not limited to work done at one institution. It applies to any course work submitted for evaluation for credit at any educational institution.

Examples of Misappropriation of Own Work

  • Using all, or a significant amount, of an essay, done in a course last semester and submitting it for evaluation for a different course this semester
  • Submitting the same, or very similar, assignment in two different courses in the same semester
  • Re-taking a course and submitting previously submitted lab work

This form of academic misconduct occurs when a student misrepresents or falsifies information for inclusion in any course work submitted for credit or misrepresents or falsifying information used to obtain an advantage in academic standing.  

Falsifying information is a very serious offence.

Examples of Falsifying Information

  • Inventing or altering data from a laboratory or field project
  • Creating fictional citations for a paper
  • Falsifying, misrepresenting, or forging information relating to hours or activities in relation to an internship, externship, field experience, co-op placement, clinical activity or similar activity
  • Falsifying, misrepresenting, or forging an academic record
  • Falsifying, misrepresenting, or forging a supporting document or information in relation to academic standing, including but not limited to any information used in support of admission into the course or program, pre-requisite requirements, prior learning assessments or academic standing
  • Falsifying, misrepresenting, or forging documents used in support of a request for an extension on an assignment or a deferred test on the basis of medical, religious or compassionate grounds
  • Altering previously graded work for purpose of seeking re-evaluation of grade or in support of a grade appeal or academic misconduct appeal

Academic dishonesty is an academic misconduct offence that is committed when a student provides dishonest information to an instructor (or other college official) for the purpose of receiving an academic benefit or opportunity.

The difference between this offence and falsifying information is that falsifying information involves documents. Academic dishonesty is academic misconduct even if it does not involve the falsification of documents.

Examples of Academic Dishonesty

  • Providing false or misleading reasons in relation to a request for late submission of an assignment
  • Providing false or misleading reasons in relation to a request for a make-up test
  • Providing false or misleading information during the investigation of suspected academic misconduct
  • Providing false or misleading information for reconsideration of a penalty for academic misconduct

This form of academic misconduct takes place when a student attempts to influence a change in grade or academic record for reasons that are not relevant to academic achievement. Attempting to influence may involve bribery or threats but is not limited to those circumstances.

Examples of Attempting to Influence

  • Presenting an instructor with a gift in exchange for a better grade
  • Threatening an instructor to grant an extension to an assignment
  • Offering money to a member of the Registrar’s office to drop a course after drop date deadline

Impersonation is acting or attempting to act as a substitute for another in relation to an academic evaluation. It is an offence to attempt to impersonate someone and it is academic misconduct for a student to use or attempt to use an impersonator. Impersonation is an offence whether it is in-person or electronically.

Impersonation is a very serious offence.

Examples of Impersonation

  • Pretending to be someone else in order to write an exam for them
  • Sending an impersonator to sit a test
  • Having someone else write an online quiz

Contract cheating occurs when there is some form of payment or other benefit to a third party for the purpose of completing the student's work. This also includes artificial intelligence (AI) or other computer-generated work without the express permission of the faculty.

This form of outsourcing academic work can be a very serious offence.

Contract cheating can occur when someone pays another directly to complete work. But it is also contract cheating when a student subscribes to a "homework" site to obtain solutions or answers to assignment questions, whether the student uploaded the question themselves or not.

Contract cheating does not require the exchange of money. Downloading a paper from a "free essay" site and submitting it for credit is contract cheating.

Students should be very cautious of companies on the internet that purport that they can "help" with schoolwork. These commercial homework "helpers" prey on unsuspecting students and try to convince them that they are legitimate. They are very sophisticated in going about entrapping a student. If they are providing answers to assignments or promising to provide a paper that won't be caught for plagiarism, beware! Students expose themselves to the risk of being bribed or threatened to pay more money to prevent being exposed by the same site that helped them commit academic misconduct.

Contract cheating includes more traditional methods such as having a friend who has taken the course, or a family member, complete the work

Examples of Contract Cheating

  • Having a friend complete an assignment in exchange for a favour
  • Obtaining answers to an assignment from website designed for this purpose
  • Obtaining answers to tests or assignments from a file-sharing service
  • Using a service to write a customized paper
  • Paying an "assignment coach" who provides model answers that the student submits as their own

Facilitating academic misconduct means assisting another student to commit academic misconduct (any of the forms of academic misconduct listed above).

Examples of Facilitating Academic Misconduct

  • Lending another student an assignment knowing that it may be used in their own submission of work
  • Allowing another student to copy answers from you on a test
  • Writing another student's test or assignment
  • Texting answers to a friend who is writing an online test
  • Participating in a group chat and providing questions from the test to other students
  • Taking a picture of part of a test and giving it to another student who will be writing the test later

Academic misconduct by a student is dealt with on a case-by-case basis within the framework set out in the Code of Student Rights & Responsibilities.

If you have received a Student Conduct Notification for academic misconduct, refer to Student Conduct Notifications.

Academic Penalties

Grades are awarded to a student who demonstrates their learning. Learning is measured through assessments. Assessments are designed to measure whether a student has acquired the knowledge and skills set out in the learning outcomes of the course.

Academic penalties are issued by an instructor to ensure that a student does not gain an unfair advantage in the assessment process. While the most common academic penalty for academic misconduct is a mark penalty (for example, zero grade on the assessment), academic penalties can range from warning to failing grade in the course, depending on the circumstances.

Developmental Approach: Learning from Mistakes

Where appropriate, the first time a student is reported for academic misconduct should be treated as a learning opportunity. This does not mean that there won’t be a corresponding academic penalty assigned in the process. The academic penalty is assigned to ensure that a student does not benefit from academic misconduct. However, a student can be afforded the opportunity to continue in their program of study with additional steps taken to help the student take corrective action to avoid another incident.

For more information, refer to Academic Integrity Workshop (AIW).

Administrative Penalties

While the purpose of academic penalties is to ensure that a student does not benefit from academic misconduct in relation to their academic work, administrative penalties recognize that academic misconduct is a violation of the student’s responsibilities as set out in the Code of Student’s Rights and Responsibilities.

Administrative penalties for academic misconduct may be issued by an Academic Administrator, including the Chair of the student’s program or the Vice President, Academic.

Administrative penalties may be issued in addition to academic penalties or independently, depending on the circumstances of the misconduct.

Administrative penalties may be appropriate where a student commits academic misconduct more than once but may also be issued on a first instance case where the circumstances are more serious. More serious academic misconduct circumstances may include contract cheating, impersonation or falsifying information.

Administrative penalties include grade deduction, failing grade in the course, revocation of credential, suspension, or dismissal from the College.

Reporting of Academic Misconduct is Required

Instructors are required to report instances of academic misconduct. Academic and administrative penalties are recorded on the Student Conduct Database.

Student Conduct Database

The Student Conduct Database is an internal database for reporting incidents of misconduct. Academic and administrative penalties may impact a student’s grade or academic standing, but these penalties are not noted on a student’s transcript. The database is used internally to track data to inform continuous improvement to policies and processes, by Academic Administrators to reference a student’s prior record in determining the issuance of an administrative penalty, and by the Academic Integrity Administrator in relation to an appeal hearing.

Academic Misconduct Penalties

The penalties listed below are not in order. Warnings are not appropriate in cases where work is submitted by a student that is not their own. In those cases, resubmission or mark penalty are minimum starting points, even if it is a first offence. Additionally, even a first academic misconduct offence can result in more serious penalties like a failing grade in the course or suspension or dismissal from the College.


  • Academic Penalty issued by Instructor

A warning is an official entry of academic misconduct on the Student Conduct Database that provides notice of a violation of a specific section of the Code of Student Rights & Responsibilities. Warnings do not include a mark/grade deduction but indicate that continuation or repetition of such violation, or other incident of academic misconduct, will be cause for further disciplinary action.

Resubmission of Assignment

  • Academic Penalty Issued by Instructor

This involves the opportunity for the student to submit the same or an alternate assignment, with the grade assigned at the discretion of the instructor.

Mark Penalty

  • Academic Penalty Issued by Instructor

A partial or full mark deduction on the assessment with no opportunity to resubmit.

Grade Penalty

  • Academic Penalty Issued by Instructor, or
  • Administrative Penalty Issued by Chair

Grade deduction (drop in grade) of the student's final grade in the course.

Failing Grade in the Course

  • Academic Penalty Issued by Instructor, or
  • Administrative Penalty Issued by Chair

Student is issued an "F" grade in the course.

Interim Suspension

  • Administrative Penalty Issued by the Vice President, Academic

An interim suspension involves a suspension from the College for a stated period of no more than the end of the current semester.

Revocation or Withholding of College Credential or Academic Credit

  • Administrative Penalty Issued by the Vice President, Academic

A penalty that may be invoked when a College credential or academic credit has been improperly obtained.

Full Suspension

  • Administrative Penalty Issued by the Vice President, Academic

A full suspension involves suspension from the College for up to one year.

Dismissal from the College

  • Administrative Penalty Issued by the Vice President, Academic

Dismissal from the College for no less than one full academic year.

If you have received a Student Conduct Notification for academic misconduct, refer to Student Conduct Notifications.

For information about how to avoid academic misconduct, refer to Learning with Integrity.

For information about academic misconduct offences and penalties, refer to .

If you have received an email about academic misconduct, refer to Student Conduct Notifications.