Student discipline to be discussed behind closed doors

Student disciplinary matters at the University of Otago will be discussed behind closed doors at its first council meeting of the year this week - three months after criticisms were made by a council member about how disciplinary outcomes were being ignored by media.

A report from the University of Otago Student Services detailing the outcomes of student disciplinary matters last year is scheduled to be tabled at a public-excluded session of the university's council meeting tomorrow.

Maximum amounts for disciplinary fines able to be imposed on students have doubled this year, while an additional review has been called for by the head of the university's disciplinary appeals board, Judge OkeBlaikie, to raise amounts higher still.

At a council meeting in November, Judge Blaikie called for more balanced reporting from media about unruly student behaviour and asked for more focus on the outcomes of the disciplinary process.

He cited concerns about negative publicity being generated in regards to an increase in reported incidents when fire crews responded to multiple street fires being lit in the student quarter, near the end of the academic term, late last year.

The Otago Daily Times requested a summary of the numbers of disciplinary matters investigated by the university proctor and was provided with figures showing the total amount of fines imposed on students in 2011 was the lowest in five years.

Last year, 136 students were fined $10,670 for serious breaches of the university's code of conduct, as a result of 529 incidents dealt with by the proctor - a 54% leap from the 343 incidents processed in 2010.

matthew.haggart@odt.co.nz

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