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Sanctions for Academic Charges

The central role of a university is to discover and disseminate new knowledge. It is a prerequisite of this process that members of the university community are open and honest in their dealings with each other. Academic integrity promotes the development and expression of new ideas and enhances the quality of each student's education and allows for the recognition of the genuine accomplishments and achievements of all.

The central idea behind imposing a sanction on a student is to reaffirm the values of the academic and university community, both to the student and the community. In addition, this leads to the moral development of individuals found responsible, while at the same time serving as a deterrent to others. The mere act of wrong-doing justifies a sanction being imposed even if the student appears remorseful and understands the dishonesty of the act.

The University of Maryland, College Park has not adopted a "single sanction" sanction process for a couple of reasons. First, a single, harsh penalty can lead to a reluctance to punish those found responsible. Second, a lenient assignment of sanctions trivializes the act of dishonesty. In both cases, the likely result surely would be fewer cases reported, a culture of acceptance of dishonesty, and the uncontrolled spread of academic fraud.

Normal Sanction for Undergraduate Students: The grade of "XF"

This is the "normal sanction" under the Code of Academic Integrity. The grade appears on the student's transcript with the notation "Failure due to academic dishonesty."

The denotation of "normal" means that there is a presumption that this is the sanction to be imposed. The burden primarily rests with the complaining party, but responsibility also rests with the responding party and members of the board to show that there were specific and significant mitigating or aggravating factors which would warrant a different penalty (whether less severe or more severe).

The grade of "XF" serves as a deterrent insofar as it is significantly more severe than a mere "F." A student who is already failing a course would have no incentive not to cheat if he/she felt that the only penalty he/she was likely to receive was an "F." In general, therefore, the Board should not sanction the student by giving him/her a lower grade for the course than he/she would otherwise have received. Not only is deterrence lost, but a member of the teaching staff is the only person in a position to assign grades on the basis of the student's ability and mastery of the course material (i.e., grades "A" through "F"). Further, it should be remembered that the purpose of the Code is to—as much as possible—remove the faculty member from a position of resolving academic dishonesty cases.

The student can petition the Student Honor Council to change the grade of "XF" to "F" if three conditions are satisfied:

  • Twelve months have passed since the grade of "XF" was imposed;
  • The student has successfully completed the Academic Integrity Seminar (more information below); and
  • The student has not been found responsible for another act of academic dishonesty or similar offense at Maryland or another higher education institution.

Once these requirements have been met, the student must petition (i.e., complete a questionnaire) the Student Honor Council. The Council may then exercise its discretion and change the grade of "XF" to "F."

Information regarding the Academic Integrity Seminar are detailed in the student's sanction notice and at the bottom of this page. 

Normal Sanction for Graduate Students: "XF" and Dismissal

Graduate students also may also have the "XF" sanction for the course in which the violation occurrs. They may also face dismissal (suspension or expulsion) from their program and the University. Graduate students are subject to the full range of sanctions as undergraduate students. 

Grade Penalty Sanctions: "F" in the class / Grade Reduction in the Course / Zero on the assignment

These sanctions are given when the majority of Board members determine some mitigating factors exist to warrant a penalty less severe than an "XF." If the Board decides not to sanction the student with a grade of "XF," then it must be careful to indicate to the instructor of the course what grade penalty is to be given to the student or, at least, indicate what mechanism should be used to calculate a grade for the student. 

Educational Sanctions: 

A part of almost all sanctions is some type of educational component. This includes modular experiences like the Academic Integrity Seminar, the Academic integrity Tutorial, and many different reflection papers that can focus on the specific type of violation. It also includes students interacting with campus and external resources that can be used to prevent future misconduct as well as help provide a broader context as to the imporance of academic integrity and ethical behavior. 

Disciplinary Sanctions


This penalty denotes the temporary separation of the student from the University. The suspended student shall not participate in any University sponsored activity and may also be barred from University premises.

The Board must specify the length of suspension and when it should begin. Suspensions may be withheld and only become effective if the student commits another act of academic dishonesty. Suspensions may also be deferred and come into effect only after a specified period of time. Finally, suspensions may be truncated (in unusual cases) if there is some specified mechanism for the student's return to the University (e.g., demonstration of remorse, understanding of the seriousness of the act, and a clean record since the sanction). Permanent notification of the suspension may appear on the student's transcript. The Board should indicate whether transcript notification is appropriate.

The sanction of Suspension Withheld is one where the suspension can be withheld provided the student remain in good disciplinary standing with the University and complete some educational sanction. It serves as a probationary sanction where if a student is found responsible for violating a university policy while on Suspension Withheld, the suspension may then be enacted. 


This is the most severe single sanction. The student is permanently separated from the University. Notification will appear on the student's transcript. The student also will be barred from the University premises.

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