In June, an independent tribunal at the University of Toronto recommended to the Governing Council that Chris Spence, the former Director of Education of the Toronto District School Board (TDSB), be stripped of his doctorate from the Ontario Institute of Studies in Education due to concerns of plagiarism in his doctoral thesis.

The case drew attention in large part because tribunal proceedings concerning academic offences are made publicly available on the website of U of T’s Governing Council. Case summaries, statistics, and minutes of the process are all presented.

The Code of Behaviour on Academic Matters, which governs academic life at the university, outlines six possible academic offences: falsified documents, unauthorized assistance, impersonation, plagiarism, re-submitting one’s own work, and making up facts.

The Varsity investigated all 46 incidents from the 2016–2017 academic year, and according to the raw data, only one student was acquitted, constituting a 2.2 per cent clearance rate. This means that in a given year, there is a 97.8 per cent chance that severe disciplinary action will be taken in response to a reported academic offense dealt with by the tribunal. The one case in which charges were dismissed was when a student was accused of plagiarism and unauthorized assistance in a course that was disrupted due to the 2015 TA strike.

The number one infraction of the 2016–2017 year was the falsifying of documents, which pertained to 50 per cent of cases, followed by plagiarism at 39.6 per cent and unauthorized assistance at 30.4 per cent. Many of these cases concerned multiple transgressions. Close to a third of the incidents resulted in the tribunal recommending expulsion, in addition to long notations on transcripts.

There were 38 offences involving undergraduate courses, and among the three campuses, 43.5 per cent of all tribunal cases originated from UTM, followed by UTSG at 34.8 per cent, and UTSC at 4.3 per cent. Not all academic offences took place in courses. Other examples include falsified documents used in applications to jobs and other universities.

The average time between the charge and the hearing of the case was roughly seven months, ranging from a low of two months to a high of about three-and-a-half years.

Chris Lang, Director of Appeals, Discipline, and Faculty Grievances, said, “Any student who comes before the tribunal, either themselves or with a representative, has access to all the information and can therefore know what’s persuasive at the tribunal, how to prepare a case… It’s about transparency.”

According to Andrea Russell, Director of Academic Affairs at the Office of the Vice-Provost, Academic Programs, “All full-time students who are members of UTSU and who have paid the Downtown Legal Services levy that UTSU administers are eligible to access [their] services free of charge.”

The cases presided over by the University Tribunal represent only a fraction of all academic offences. “The vast majority of academic offences are not resolved at the University Tribunal, but rather within a division or a faculty,” Russell explained. The facts of these incidents are not publicized or reported online.

There is a selection process to choose tribunal members. According to Lang, members are made up of Chairs — “legally qualified people” — faculty members, and students. Chairs are approved by the Academic Board, based on recommendation by a nominating committee, and the others are appointed by Lang himself as the tribunal secretary.

Case
Type
Process length
Outcome
Student Presence
Notes
Case 850 Plagiarism; unauthorized assistance; academic dishonesty Essay submitted November 10, 2014; Student charged March 3, 2016; case heard June 27, 2016 = approx. 3 months Zero in the course; 2 year suspension; notation on transcript for 3 years No Essay for ECO100
Case 852 Plagiarism; academic dishonesty Research paper submitted May 2015; charged March 11, 2016; Case heard June 1/29 2016 = approx. 3 months Zero in the course; 4 year suspension; notation on transcript for 1 year Yes Graduate course EES1114
Case 816 Falsified document; academic dishonesty Wrote test February 12, 2015; charged October 26, 2015; case heard April 7, 2016 = approx. 5 months Zero in the course; 1 year suspension; notation on transcript for 2 years Yes Test for ECO202, UTM
Case 837 (A) Personation at final exam; academic dishonesty (+ plagiarism, but not heard) Wrote exam August 13, 2015; charged January 7, 2016; case heard April 25, 2016 = approx. 3 months……………… APPEAL heard December 13, 2016 = total 11 months Zero in the course; 5 year suspension; notation on transcript for 5 years Yes Was charged on the final for MAT133 AND for POL208 essay plagiarism, but panel only heard the former……………… Provost appealed for a PERMANENT notation, but panel refused
Case 847 Plagiarism; unauthorized assistance FAH319 paper August 9, 2015, final August 13, 2015; GGR361 final August 17, 2015; GGR328 final December 16, 2015; charged February 22, 2016; case heard August 15, 2016 = approx. 6 months Zero in the courses; 4 year suspension; notation on transcript for 5 years Yes Pertained to FAH419, GGR361, and GGR328
Case 818 Falsified documents; academic dishonesty June 7-23-30 2015 forged documents; charged October 28, 2015 and March 9, 2016 case heard May 27, 2016 = approx. 2 months Zero in the courses; 5 year suspension; notation on transcript for 6 years Yes Pertained to SOC364, PCJ460, and HIS202
Case 862 Plagiarism; academic dishonesty (purchased essay) Paper submitted November 11 (year unclear); charged April 27, 2016; case heard July 14, 2016 = approx. 3 months Recommend to the Governing Council for expulsion; if done, permanent notation on transcript ; pending this, 5 year suspensions; Zero in the course; decision to be publicized through university (name withheld) No Essay for EAS103
Case 831 Unauthorized assistance to others; academic dishonestly Situation in October 2014; charged October 26, 2015; case heard April 21, 2016 = approx. 6 months 2 year suspension; notation on transcript for 3 years Yes STA302 UTM
Case 843 Falsified documents; academic dishonesty Misconduct April 30/August 24 2015; charged January 21, 2016; case heard June 20, 2016 = approx. 5 months Zero in the courses, 4 year suspension; notation on transcript for 5 years Yes NEW280 and ITA100
Case 846 Plagiarism; academic dishonesty Misconduct January 14/16 2015; charged February 22, 2016; case heard June 24, 2016 Zero in the courses; 2 year suspension; notation on transcript for 3 years Yes CHM120 and BIO153 UTM
Case 810 Falsified documents; academic dishonesty; plagiarism Misconduct November 5/October 28 2014; charged July 20, 2015; case heard January 27/June 28, 2016 = approx. 11 months Zero in the course; 3 year suspension; notation on transcript for 4 years Yes HLTC05 UTSC
Case 856 Falsified documents; academic dishonesty Misconduct May 17, 2015; charged March 31, 2016; case heard July 6, 2016 = approx. 4 months 5 year suspension; recommendation to the Governing Council for expulsion; permanent notation on transcript No Inaccurate academic details when applying for job
Case 836 Falsified documents Misconduct between December 19, 2013-November 17, 2015; charged January 7, 2016; case heard August 3, 2016 = approx. 7 months Zero in the courses; 4 year suspension; notation on transcript for 5 years Yes MAT135, CHM138, NMC388, NML455, HMB265
Case 870 Falsified documents; academic dishonesty; plagiarism; unauthorized assistance Misconduct between September 30, 2015-February 2, 2016; charged May 25, 2016; case heard September 22, 2015 = approx. 4 months Zero in the courses; recommendation to the Governing Council for expulsion (pending this, 5 year suspension; permanent notation on transcript Yes NUR1100 and NUR1022 Faculty of Nursing
Case 851 Unauthorized assistance; academic dishonesty Situation August 11, 2015; charged March 10, 2016; case heardJuly 8, 2016 =approx. 4 months Zero in the course; 2 year suspension; notation on transcript for 3 years Yes ECO100
Case 848 Falsified document; academic dishonesty Situation June 2-3, 2015; charged January 8, 2016; case heard March 16/August 9, 2016 = approx. 7 months Recommendation for expulsion Yes
Case 866 Falsified document Situation July 27, 2015; charged May 12, 2016; case heard August 30, 2016 5 year suspension pending recommendation to the Governing Council for expulsion No In a Bachelor of Science; claimed graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce
Case 796 Unauthorized assistance; academic dishonesty; plagiarism Misconduct between November 29, 2012-March 7 2013; charged February 11, 2015-March 2, 2016; case heard August 11, 2016 = approx. 1.5 years Zero in the courses; 3 year suspension; notation on transcript until graduation Yes WGS200, CCT314 UTM
Case 860 Unauthorized aid; academic dishonesty Situation February 26, 2016; charged April 27, 2016; case heard August 23, 2016 = approx. 4 months Zero in the courses; 4 year suspension; notation on transcript for 5 years Yes MIE210
Case 854 Plagiarism; academic dishonesty Situation April 2, 2015; charged March 23, 2016; case heard August 23, 2016 = approx. 5 months Zero in the course; 2 year suspension; notation on transcript for 3 years Yes SOC349 UTM
Case 873 Falsified document; academic dishonesty Situation December 4, 2015; charged May 31, 2016; case heard October 7, 2016 Zero in the course; 3 year 4 month suspension; notation on transcript until graduation Yes ENV341
Case 885 Unauthorized assistance; plagiarism; academic dishonesty Situation February 2, 2015; charged August 3, 2016; case heard December 7, 2016 = approx. 4 months Zero in the course; 2 year suspension; notation on transcript for 3 years No SOC219 UTM
Case 872 Plagiarism; academic dishonesty Situation February 2014; charged May 31, 2016; case heard October 13, 2016 – approx. 5 months Zero in the course; 2 year suspension; notation on transcript for 3 years No FAH102
Case 867 Falsified documents; academic dishonesty Situation June 1, 2012; charged May 16, 2016; case heard October 17, 2016 = approx. 5 months 5 year suspension; recommendation to the Governing Council for expulsion; permanent notation on transcript No UTM
Case 781 Concocted facts; academic dishonesty Situation in Winter or Spring 2013; charged November 25, 2014; case heard November 10, 2016 = approx. 2 years Zero in the course; 5 year suspension; recommendation to the Governing Council for expulsion; permanent notation on transcript Yes RST9999 Research Thesis
Case 888 Personation; falsified documents; academic dishonesty Situation November 18, 2015; charged September 22, 2016; case heard January 23, 2017 = approx. 4 months Zero in the course; 3 year suspension; notation on transcript for 4 years Yes MGT338 UTM
Case 892 Plagiarism; academic dishonesty Situation March 28, 2016; charged October 12, 2016; case heard January 25, 2017 = approx. 3 months Zero in the course; 2 year suspension; notation on transcript for 3 years No ENGB35 UTSC
Case 886 Unauthorized aid; academic dishonesty Situation December 8, 2015; charged August 8, 2016; case heard December 16, 2016 = approx. 4 months Zero in the course; 2 year suspension; notation on transcript for 4 years No MAT223 UTM
Case 841 Plagiarism; unauthorized assistance; academic dishonesty Situation March 13, 2015; charged January 15, 2016; case heard November 29, 2016 = approx. 10 months Charges dismissed Yes POL200 UTM (disruption due to 2015 TA strike)
Case 855 Falsified documents; academic dishonesty Situation November 2/December 4, 2015; charged March 28, 2016; case heard December 15, 2016 = approx. 9 months Zero in the course; 5 year suspension pending recommendation to Governing Council for expulsion Yes ENV341H1
Case 861 Falsified documents; academic dishonesty Situation March 4, 2016; charged April 25, 2016; case heard January 13, 2017 = approx. 9 months Zero in the course; 3 year suspension; notation on transcript for 4 years No, but represented by Downtown Legal Services ECE318H1
Case 719 Falsified documents; plagiarism Situation September 17, 2012-April 2, 2013; charged July 22, 2013; case heard February 6, 2016-January 16, 2017 = approx. 4 years Zero in the courses; 5 year suspension pending recommendation to Governing Council for expulsion Yes CHM139, NEW241, NFS284, UNI209
Case 903 Falsified documents; academic dishonesty Situation April 29/November 30/December 18, 2015; charged November 29, 2016; case heard February 28, 2017 = approx. 3 months Zero in the courses; 5 year suspension; notation on transcript for 6 years No STA260, STA268, ECO349 UTM
Case 865 Unauthorized assistance; academic dishonesty Situation December 16, 2014; charged May 6, 2016; case heard November 17, 2016 = approx. 6 months Zero in the course; 2 year suspension; notation on transcript for 3 years No GGR26 UTM
Case 918 Plagiarism; unauthorized assistance; academic dishonesty Situation March 24, 20/April 7, 2016; charged January 18, 2017; case heard March 9, 2017 = 2 months Zero in the course; 5 year suspension; notation on transcript for 5 years Yes CCT110 UTM
Case 896 Plagiarism; academic dishonesty Situation November 30, 2015; charged November 11, 2016; case heard February 22, 2017 Zero in the course; 3 year suspension; notation on transcript for 4 years No CIN101 UTM
Case 881 Unauthorized assistance; academic dishonesty Situation March 31/December 12, 2015; charged July 28, 2016; case heard March 21, 2017 = approx. 8 months Zero in the courses; 3 year suspension; notation on transcript for 4 years Yes CSC108 UTM – re-submitted an assignment for the same course, different term
Case 894 Falsified documents; academic dishonesty Situation December 11/17, 2015; charged October 28, 2016; case heard April 3, 2017 = 6 months Zero in the courses; 3 year 8 month suspension; notation on transcript for 5 five years No MAT240, MAT 233 UTM
Case 910 Plagiarism; academic dishonesty Situation February 3/March 6, 2016; charged January 6, 2017; case heard March 8, 2017 = approx. 2 months Zero in the courses 3 year suspension; notation on transcript until graduation Yes SOC378, PHL210 UTM
Case 915 Falsified documents; academic dishonesty Situation June 3, 2015/May 17, 2016; charged January 17, 2017; case heard March 6, 2017 = approx. 2 months 5 year suspension pending recommendation to the Governing Council for expulsion No Applied for admission to York University using falsified transcript from U of T
Case 907 Falsified documents; academic dishonesty Situation December 18, 2015; charged December 19, 2016; case heard April 28, 2017 = approx. 5 months Zero in the course; 3 year suspension; notation on transcript for 4 years No CSC108 UTM
Case 917 Falsified document; academic dishonesty Situation June 3, 2015; charged January 17, 2017; case heard March 17, 2017 = approx. 2 months 5 year suspension pending recommendation to the Governing Council for expulsion No Provided falsified transcript to Saudi Arabian Cultural Bureau
Case 869 Falsified document; unauthorized assistance; academic dishonesty Situation December 21, 2015; charged May 25, 2016; case heard February 21, 2017, sanctioned June 29, 2017 = approx. 1 year 2 months Zero in the course; 2 year suspension; notation on transcript for 3 years Yes MAT223
Case 928 Falsified document; academic dishonesty Situation September 2, 2015; charged March 20, 2017; case heard May 11, 2017 = approx. 2 months 5 year suspension pending recommendation to the Governing Council for expulsion No Applied for admission to York University using falsified transcript from U of T
Case 858 (A) Concocted facts; falsified documents; academic dishonesty Situation April 10/October 1, 2015; charged April 12, 2016; case heard July 12, 2016 = approx. 2 months………………… APPEAL heard May 18, 2017 = total 10 months 5 year suspension pending recommendation to the Governing Council for expulsion No CCT208 UTM…………………… Student appealed: Panel decided on a new hearing at a later time