1. Educational Misconduct Policy
1.1 Policy number: CO–E–003.0
1.2 Category: Education
1.3 Approval date: October 2018
1.4 Revision due date: October 2021
1.5 Unit responsible: Education Services
2. Policy declaration
The RACGP does not tolerate Educational Misconduct and all reports of unacceptable conduct will be investigated and substantiated incidents penalised.
This policy is approved by the RACGP Board and authorised by the CEO.
The objectives of this policy are to:
a. define what constitutes Educational Misconduct, and when investigations will occur;
b. explain the principles that guide RACGP investigations and decision making regarding alleged Educational Misconduct; and
c. provide a framework for determining the appropriate penalty following a finding of Educational Misconduct.
This policy applies to allegations of Educational Misconduct involving medical practitioners or individuals wishing to register as a medical practitioner in Australia who are:
a. applying for entry into a pathway to Fellowship; or
b. enrolled in a pathway to Fellowship.
For the purposes of this policy:
a. Educational Misconduct includes any form of unacceptable or improper behaviour by a candidate:
i. affecting the educational validity of their RACGP examination or assessment process or that of the examination or assessment itself;
ii. involving lack of transparency, honesty or integrity connected to an RACGP examination or assessment process; and/or
iii. including a failure to comply with a direction, instruction, procedure, rule or policy issued by the RACGP in relation to an examination or assessment, regardless of the medium in which the conduct occurs.
b. Candidate means an individual who is the subject of an Educational Misconduct Report.
c. Censor means a member of the RACGP Council of Censors.
d. Educational Misconduct Committee means the committee convened under clause 7.
e. Fellowship refers to Fellowship of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners and Fellowship in Advanced Rural General Practice.
5. General principles
The following general principles apply to the interpretation and application of this policy.
- Anyone involved in an examination or assessment who believes Educational Misconduct has occurred or is occurring, must notify the relevant education officer by submitting an Educational Misconduct Report.
- The RACGP does not tolerate Educational Misconduct and all Educational Misconduct Reports will be investigated.
- Candidates will be presumed innocent until proven otherwise.
- All Candidates are deemed to be experienced in academic pursuits and fully aware:
- of what constitutes Educational Misconduct, and
- that Educational Misconduct is unacceptable.
- Inexperience, or ignorance of RACGP policies, is no excuse for engaging in Educational Misconduct.
6. Initial investigation
6.1 The Censor-in-Chief (or their delegate) will initially review each Educational Misconduct Report and determine whether either:
a. the matter should be dismissed because:
i. the allegation of Educational Misconduct is made mischievously, vexatiously, frivolously or maliciously;
ii. the relevant conduct is relatively trivial in nature or unlikely to lead to a finding of Educational Misconduct;
iii. the relevant conduct does not fall within the definition of Educational Misconduct; or
iv. the circumstances are such to warrant the dismissal of the matter, or
b. the matter should be subject to a full investigation by the Educational Misconduct Committee.
6.2 The initial investigation should be concluded within 20 national office business days of an Educational Misconduct Report being lodged. The relevant Candidate must be given notice of the outcome within ten national office business days of the conclusion of the initial investigation.
6.3 For matters referred to the Educational Misconduct Committee, the Censor-in-Chief (or their delegate):
a. may withhold ratification, notification and/or effectiveness of any assessment, or admission, or reporting activity, as appropriate
b. will arrange for an Educational Misconduct Committee to be convened; and
c. will ensure the written notice of outcome of the initial investigation includes:
i. a copy of the relevant Educational Misconduct Report;
ii. a link to this policy;
iii. any other relevant materials that the Censor-in-Chief (or delegate) proposes the Educational Misconduct Committee considers;
iv. notification the Candidate has ten national office business days from the date of notice to provide a written submission for the Educational Misconduct Committee's consideration;
v. if so afforded by the Educational Misconduct Committee, notification the Candidate is also permitted to make a verbal submission in accordance with clause 7.6.
7. Educational Misconduct Committee
7.1 The Educational Misconduct Committee must comprise two Censors (one of whom may be the Censor-in- Chief), and one RACGP representative familiar with the RACGP's operations related to the Educational Misconduct Report.
7.2 If in attendance, the Censor-in Chief will be Chair. If not, the Censor-in-Chief will delegate one of the two Censors to be Chair.
7.3 All decisions will be made by majority vote.
7.4 Additional RACGP staff members may attend the meeting to support the Educational Misconduct Committee in an administrative or secretariat capacity.
7.5 The Educational Misconduct Committee may obtain any evidence as and how it deems necessary.
7.6 The Educational Misconduct Committee may in its unfettered discretion afford the Candidate the opportunity of making a verbal submission, and must do so if it accepts a verbal submission from another party.
7.7 Candidates are entitled to the presumption of innocence in all Educational Misconduct Committee hearings.
7.8 In making a determination on allegations of Educational Misconduct the Educational Misconduct Committee must consider:
a. all materials provided pursuant to clause 6.3.c;
b. any submission made by the Candidate, or any other person; and
c. any other relevant materials, but only after the Candidate has received a copy and been afforded a further ten national office business days to dispute or comment on the same.
The Educational Misconduct Committee must not consider:
d. any written submission received after the clause 6.3.c.iv deadline; or
e. any prior allegations or findings of Educational Misconduct related to the Candidate (although this may be considered for the purpose of penalties).
7.9 A positive finding of Educational Misconduct against a Candidate must not be made unless established on the provided evidence to the comfortable satisfaction of the Educational Misconduct Committee. In applying "comfortable satisfaction" as a burden of proof, the more serious the allegation and the consequences, the higher the level of proof required for the allegation to be substantiated.
7.10 If a determination of Educational Misconduct is made, all fees paid by the Candidate for the assessment will be forfeited and the Educational Misconduct Committee will impose an appropriate penalty from the list in clause 8.
The RACGP may impose any one or more of the following penalties in the event that a determination of Educational Misconduct is made:
a. a reprimand;
b. the imposition of conditions on the Candidate (which may include for example, a requirement to attend counselling or educational events), breach of which would result in expulsion from the RACGP examination or assessment process;
c. a requirement that the Candidate reimburse any reasonable costs incurred by the RACGP in investigating and determining the allegation of Educational Misconduct;
d. that any examination or assessment process directly or indirectly affected by the Educational Misconduct be declared invalid;
e. that the Candidate be awarded a zero score or null assessment for the relevant examination or assessment
f. the Candidate be prohibited from any further applications for an examination or assessment for such period determined by the Educational Misconduct Committee (not exceeding 12 months from the date of the determination);
g. that the Candidate be expelled from the RACGP examination or assessment process;
h. a recommendation to the RACGP Board that the Candidate be suspended or expelled from membership; and/or
i. if the Educational Misconduct is of a sufficiently serious nature, that the medical registration body be notified
The Educational Misconduct Committee Chair must notify the Candidate of any determination within ten national office business days after the determination is made. This notice must include:
- whether or not the Educational Misconduct Committee made a determination of Educational Misconduct;
- a summary of the reasons for the determination;
- details of any penalty/penalties imposed;
- a link to the RACGP's Fellowship Pathways Appeals Policy.
10. Related policies, documents and legislation
All related policies and procedures are available on our policy page.
11. Administrative procedures
11.1 Access to published policy
This policy will be available via the RACGP website as detailed in clause 10.
11.2 Promulgation of published policy
Relevant staff members will be provided communications explaining the function and role of this policy.
11.3 Review of this policy
This policy will have a review cycle of three years.