Education update – May 2016

An advocate’s guide to academic integrity

As stress is piling up and assignments come piling in, it is common for an increasing amount of academic misconduct cases to come through the VUWSA Advocacy Service. 

If you've been told your work appears to contain suspicious (aka plagiarised) material, you should contact VUWSA’s Advocacy Service for information on the process. Our Service will help to make it as seamless, supportive and 'not-scary' as possible. 

Things to remember: 

  • Don’t panic! First instances of academic cases are handled through a cautionary process.
  • Everyone has the right to a support person. The details of the advocacy service should be included in every disciplinary letter.
  • Meetings about academic integrity and misconduct should be neutral, non-judgmental and a learning opportunity. The student should always be given an open opportunity to respond.
  • If the conversation about plagiarism is happening in person, the student should be asked if they want to proceed with the meeting, or given the option to reconvene at another time and have a support person available. No one should ever be surprised by a disciplinary meeting.

Important! If you are in doubt about whether a piece of information needs to be cited, cite it. It is better to err on the side of caution than to accidentally use work by someone else without giving proper credit. 

Related VUW resources
Student Learning/Te Taiako is a group of professional, experienced leaning advisers who specialise in helping you achieve academic success.

They offer:

  • Free academic skills workshop and specialist programs all year.
  • Online resources at
  • Individual 50-minute appointments to assist with your study in the subjects of academic writing and maths and statistics.
  • 15-minute express appointments at the Victoria Info Ihonui, Level 2 Library entrance, the Hub, 10am-2pm.
  • A Māori Learning adviser to support Māori students in their studies.
  • A Pasifika learning adviser to support Pasifika students in their studies. 

New, innovative models of education

The Productivity Commission has released an issues paper calling for input on the future of tertiary education. The model is the first step of a year-long inquiry into how our tertiary education system can innovate to meet the needs of learners and the community in the future. This inquiry will look at where innovation does and doesn’t happen in tertiary education; why some parts of the system innovate more than others; and how the system could overall become more innovative to deliver better educational outcomes (Productivity Commission, 2016).

Near the end of April VUWSA provided a submission answering to specific questions in the Productivity Commission's issues paper to ensure the student voice was heard and identified as a leading stakeholder in future consultation. VUWSA consulted with Faculty Delegate student leaders before providing the submission to the Commission.

FYI – We will be asking you for feedback in a second round of consultation. Watch this space.

Any questions? Email

Class representatives

Trimester 1 Class Reps have been active, confident and effective in bringing academic issues to VUWSA’s attention, resolving ground level issues, providing positive and constructive feedback, as well as organising study groups and class events!

Keen to volunteer to be a class representative in Trimester 2? Nominate yourself or talk to your lecturer in your first week of next trimester.

Academic top tip! Know your policy: Assessment timing

With assessments and tests piling up, now can be a stressful time for students. Any assessment task and accompanying feedback should be spread evenly across the full length of the course. This is to avoid seriously overloading students and staff. If students in your class have a common core of courses such as the 100-level commerce core or 200-level compulsory law courses, the course coordinators should liaise about scheduling of assessment. 

What you can do
If you or your classmates think assessment tasks and accompanying feedback aren't spread evenly across your course, talk to your course coordinator in the first instance. They may be unaware of the bottleneck. If you find you're still unhappy after talking with your course coordinator, contact VUWSA's Advocacy Service

Go here for more information: Section 6, Assessment Handbook 

Top tip provided by Sally Whineray, Advocacy Service Special Projects Coordinator