Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences Student Code of Conduct

Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences students must abide by the following standards and expectations of behaviour.

Note: This Code is to be used alongside and in addition to the following University of Melbourne documents:


The Faculty of Science at the University of Melbourne is responsible for the training of professionals in the fields of veterinary and agricultural sciences.

All students in the Faculty are expected to act according to behavioural and professional standards required by society relevant professional bodies (e.g. Veterinary Practitioners Registration Board of Victoria, Ag Institute Australia) the University and the Faculty at all times for the duration of their studies.

The Code sets out the behaviour and conduct expected of our students. The Faculty imposes obligations upon students to demonstrate respectful and considerate behaviour towards fellow students and staff as well as any external member of the public with whom they have interactions during or as part of their studies. The Code also further reinforces the obligations placed on students by the University to act with honesty and integrity in all dealings relating to their education.

The procedures that will be followed where there have been breaches of the Code are described in this Code, as are the consequences for such breaches. Decisions regarding consequences and penalties to be applied will be at the discretion of the Faculty, in accordance with University policy and dependent on the circumstances particular to each case.

Veterinary and Agricultural sciences students must abide by the following standards of behaviour.

Personal responsibility

Students are responsible for their own conduct at all times. They are expected to know and comply with all aspects of the Code and other relevant University policies regarding student behaviour.

An important aspect of professional behaviour is a capacity for reflection and independent, self- directed learning. The Faculty is required by professional and accrediting bodies to produce graduates that are competent in these areas. Therefore, while academic staff will always undertake to provide the guidance, materials and support that students need in order to successfully complete their program of study, students are ultimately responsible for their own education.

Students may refer to the University of Melbourne Student Charter that sets out what students are responsible for and what they are entitled to expect from the University.

Respectful treatment of others

Failure to treat fellow students, staff members or members of the public in a professional and respectful manner will always be taken seriously by the Faculty and may have major consequences for the student involved. Such behaviour:

  • May have a serious effect on the health and wellbeing of the person or people affected
  • Can harm the reputation of the student who has demonstrated this behaviour and consequently may adversely affect their ability to attain employment and registration with regulatory bodies
  • Can harm the reputation of the Faculty and may, for example, result in public outcry and even litigation
  • Can harm the reputation of businesses and private individuals and can potentially put them at risk of adverse consequences such as litigation. It may also result in a refusal of such enterprises to accept students for placements in the future
  • Can disrupt or interfere with the learning of other students.


  • Students must always demonstrate respectful behaviour towards their fellow students and towards members of Faculty staff
  • Students must always demonstrate respectful behaviour to members of the public
  • Students must always demonstrate respectful and professional behaviour towards any person who is external to the Faculty, including those with whom they interact in the course of pursuing their studies, such as enterprise owners, managers and staff
  • Bullying, harassment, victimisation, vilification of or discrimination against any person, be it a fellow student, staff member or any member of the public, will not be tolerated under any circumstances
  • Mature and considerate verbal, social and physical behaviour is expected in all teaching and learning activities.

Recording of images and appropriate use of online communication

The internet provides an individual with a worldwide audience. Anything that a student posts online is permanently in the public domain and can potentially be seen by anyone. Potential consequences of posting or linking to material online that is sensitive, confronting, insulting, offensive, illegal (e.g., copyright-protected material) or bullying in nature or defamatory include:

  • Damage to the student’s reputation and consequent impact on that student’s ability to gain employment or registration by regulatory bodies
  • Distress for a person or people affected by any material, be it written or in image or video form, that can be deemed insulting, hurtful or vilifying or bullying
  • Damage to the reputation of the Faculty, with consequent public outcry or potential litigation
  • Damage to the reputation of private people or businesses.

Of particular concern are images that involve animals or their use that may be deemed sensitive or may be taken out of context. An integral component of veterinary, and many types of agricultural, education involves the experience of living animals as well as the use of animal tissues. This may take place in classes on campus as well as during placements on farms and other animal enterprises. Posting images online that may be open to misinterpretation can result in very serious consequences, including litigation, loss of the ability to use animals for teaching and also threats being made against the Faculty, businesses and individuals.


  • Students are not permitted to take photographs or make recordings during any class or university-related activity without the express written permission of the staff member in charge. This includes any and all activities related to studies, regardless of premises, including lectures, practical classes, tutorials, case studies, excursions and field trips, clinical rotations at U-Vet, at Goulburn Valley Equine Hospital, and at dairy rotation partner practices or extramural placements.
  • Students are permitted to take photographs or record videos only with written permission in any class for the sole purpose of their own learning. If those photographs or videos include any people (staff, students or members of the public), express written permission (e.g., email or proforma) must be obtained from each person before images or video are recorded. Images of animals at the Werribee Animal Hospital, the University of Melbourne Equine Centre at Werribee, Goulburn Valley Equine Hospital, EMS placements or dairy rotation partner practices, or images taken in those locations that include an animal, can only be recorded if the owner of that animal has signed the consent form and the clinician responsible has given written consent (email/proforma).
  • Photographs or videos taken with appropriate permission must only be used for the Skills Tracker System, assignments, reports and showcase portfolios. Students are not allowed to use these photographs, videos or any written material on any social media platform or on other internet sites. Posting or sharing any images or video clips on social media platforms or other internet sites is a serious professionalism matter that may also have legal implications through the Privacy and Data Protection Act 2014. Posting any such materials on social media sites or the internet will be considered a breach of this policy and will automatically result in the student(s) concerned being referred for a Fitness to Practice investigation.
  • Students must not post any image, video or written material online that may be deemed, interpreted, or reasonably perceived to be, offensive, insulting, hurtful or defamatory by a fellow student, member of staff or member of the public
  • Students must not post any material that could adversely affect the reputation of the University, Faculty or any business or private individual.

If a student has a complaint relating to their education, or about a member of staff, they should make the complaint through the appropriate University channels. Students should refer to the University’s Student Complaints and Grievances policy for information on how to properly make a complaint.

Honesty and integrity

Honesty and integrity are fundamental components of professional behaviour. The University and the Faculty expect that students will undertake all activities pertaining to their education with honesty and integrity at all times throughout their studies.

Dishonest dealings with regard to any aspect of their education can result in serious penalties, up to and including termination of enrolment or revocation of a degree previously conferred.

Students must abide by the rules of the University that govern their conduct in assessment (Assessment and Results policy), including all examinations and quizzes, whether the examinations are centrally timetabled and conducted or conducted ‘in department’ by the Faculty.

Students must not remove examination papers from examination venues unless expressly permitted to do so.

Students must not undertake any activity that could be construed as cheating during examinations, including bringing unauthorised electronic devices or written material into examinations, using computers to seek answers online (unless permitted as part of an open book examination), or providing unauthorised assistance to fellow students.

Students must not promote cheating by fellow students – e.g., by the collation and dissemination of examination questions or papers that have not been released by the Faculty.

Special consideration provisions are provided by the University and the Faculty for students who have a genuine need for them. Students must be honest in all statements made to the Faculty and the University in their applications for special consideration.

The Faculty considers the fraudulent signing of documents to be an extremely serious matter. Students must not use their signature for fraudulent purposes. Examples include attaching their signature to work that is not their own or signing a document that makes a false claim about their work, achievements or activities.

Forging the signature of another person is a potentially criminal activity. Examples include falsifying the signature of a fellow student on an attendance sheet or falsifying the signature of a person who is responsible for signing off on a placement.

Students are not permitted to record attendance for other students – ie students are not permitted to scan another student’s identity card or mark their attendance in any other way.

Plagiarism is the presentation of someone else’s work as your own. The Faculty is vigilant in scrutinising any assessment task for evidence of plagiarism and will penalise students that are found guilty. A student who allows another student to copy their work, in the knowledge that the second student will present the work as their own, is also guilty of plagiarism.

Copying other people’s work without their permission is a form of theft. Students are not to copy the a fellow student’s work or member of teaching staff’s work under any circumstances, unless express permission has been granted by the individual student or staff member concerned. This includes making written notes or taking photographs of the original material. If permission for use has been granted, students must identify and acknowledge any work that they have copied from another person and must not present it as their own work.

Students must submit all assessment tasks by the due date, unless they have sought permission for an extension, either via an online Special Consideration application, or directly from the relevant subject coordinator. Unless an extension has been granted, marks will be deducted at a rate determined by the Faculty. Students will usually be asked to provide documentary evidence to support their request for an extension and must be honest in all such submissions made.

Academic or professional misconduct, disciplinary actions or proceedings against a student will be carried out according to the University of Melbourne Student Academic Integrity policy and Student Conduct policy. Students in the DVM course should also note that such information may be considered by veterinary regulatory bodies when assessing applications for registration as a veterinary practitioner.

General behaviour

Students are responsible for their own safety and must not engage in any action that places the others’ safety at risk.

The Faculty will not tolerate antisocial or illegal behaviour. Students who engage in antisocial or illegal behaviour place their ongoing enrolment and their careers at risk. Veterinary students should be aware that it is a requirement for registration in Victoria that a veterinary graduate be of good character. Further, in order to be granted registration an individual must not have been convicted of any indictable offence within the previous 10 years and must not have a drug or alcohol dependency (Part 2, Section 6, Subsection 2, Veterinary Practice Act 1997).

Students must conduct themselves responsibly at all Faculty or student-organised functions and activities. Bad behaviour arising from intoxication will not be tolerated. Depending on the seriousness of the breach, individual students may face a misconduct charge and, in addition, may be banned from future functions. Another possible outcome is that such functions may be banned entirely. Students should also refer to the University of Melbourne Responsible Management and Use of Alcohol policy.

Breaches of the Code

If a student becomes aware of any breaches of the Code by another student, they are encouraged to report their concerns to a member of Faculty staff. However, the Faculty does not require a complaint to be made by a student in order for it to investigate a breach.

While the matter is under investigation, it is to be kept confidential by both the reporting student(s) and the staff members concerned.

Students must not make false allegations against a fellow student or any other person.

Following discovery of a breach, the accused student/s may be invited to an interview with an appropriate member of Faculty staff or may be invited to a formal misconduct hearing.

Depending on the nature and seriousness of the breach, the matter may be dealt with by one or more members of Faculty staff, including the Dean. University staff external to the Faculty may also become involved.

Procedures arising as a result of reported breaches of this Code will be carried out according to the University of Melbourne Student Conduct Policy. That document should be referred to for details regarding the possible penalties that may be imposed on a student for whom an allegation of misconduct has been upheld. Possible penalties range from a reprimand of the student through to termination of enrolment. Academic or professional misconduct disciplinary actions or proceedings against a student may be considered by veterinary regulatory bodies when assessing an application for registration as a veterinary practitioner.


Bullying: When a person or group of people intentionally use words or actions to   cause distress, hurt or embarrassment, or to intimidate, oppress or damage someone else.  It is usually done by people who have more power over someone else or who want to make someone else feel less powerful or helpless. Bullying is not the same as conflict between people or disliking someone, but people might bully each other because of conflict or dislike. Bullying may take the following forms:

  • Verbal bullying: words used intentionally to upset someone e.g. insults, racist or homophobic slurs.
  • Social bullying: use of lies, spreading of malicious gossip, repeated mimicking, deliberate exclusion.
  • Physical bullying: physical actions such as hitting used to hurt or intimidate.
  • Psychological bullying: intentional use of words and actions to cause psychological harm such as intimidation, manipulation and stalking.
  • Cyberbullying: when technology, such as social media, emails and texts, is used to verbally, socially or psychologically bully.

Collusion: when more than one student contributes to a piece of work that is submitted as the work of an individual. Individual assessment work should be entirely the work of the student submitting that work. Working together with other students on a piece of work that will be submitted for individual assessment is not permitted and can result in an accusation of academic misconduct for all the students involved.

Defamation: Publishing untrue and derogatory material about a person that harms their reputation. ‘Publishing’ can be in words or images and can be spoken, written or via electronic media.

Good Character: A person of good character behaves professionally, with integrity and honesty. That person also does not engage in any antisocial or illegal behaviour.

Harassment: Any unwelcome behaviour that offends, embarrasses, humiliates or intimidates another person. Sexual harassment includes unwelcome sexual advances, or an unwelcome request for sexual favours or engaging in other unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature.

Indictable offence: Students may refer to the current version of the Crimes Act 1958 for details of what is considered to be an indictable offence in Victoria. Students should be aware that, in 2011, bullying of a serious nature (physical bullying, psychological bullying, verbal bullying or cyberbullying) was made a crime, punishable by up to 10 years in jail.

Plagiarism: The practice of taking someone else’s work or ideas and claiming them as your own.

Vilification: An act capable of inciting hatred towards, contempt for, or ridicule of a person or group of people on the basis of race, religion, sexuality or gender.

More Information and Resources

Last updated January 2020