Why initiate disciplinary proceedings?

The disciplinary procedure is the final step that can be taken, if all other informal attempts to resolve the matter satisfactorily have failed (mediation, communication between the parties, etc.) and/or in the event that the inappropriate behaviour in question is of a sufficiently serious nature, whereby other attempts at resolution are neither possible nor desirable. If the case concerns other students, then the Vice-rector of Education and Student Affairs will be the person who will handle your case, story, with absolute discretion of course. Any cases that involve members of staff will be handled by the Rector. Learn more about disciplinary proceedings for staff members.

What does a student disciplinary procedure involve?

First contact

The complaint should be made in in writing to the Vice-Rector – this can be in the form of an email. The Vice-Rector will lead an investigation into the matter, within a reasonable timeline.

Confidential conversation

Upon receipt of the complaint, the Vice-Rector will meet with the complainant(s). The Vice-rector will also meet with the student(s) about whom the complaint has been filed. The Vice-rector may then, either as an own initiative, or in response to a request by one of the parties concerned, invite all parties for a joint meeting. This meeting constitutes the attempt to resolve the matter, within the framework of the disciplinary procedure. During this meeting, the Vice-rector will attempt to achieve a resolution between the parties, and/or to redress the damage. Where specific agreements are made during the course of this meeting, then the period of time in which such agreements must be executed will also be determined during this same meeting. Pending execution of such agreements, the disciplinary proceedings will be suspended.

If there is no possibility of a conciliation procedure, then the disciplinary investigation will continue, and the Vice-Rector will determine possible measures and further consequences of the disciplinary complaint.

Measures and sanctions

If the Vice-rector considers such a step to be necessary in the interests of safety and good order at the university, then certain restrictions may be imposed upon the student(s) concerned (e.g. a contact ban, a ban on entering student accommodation, or even a partial ban on entering the campus…).

Once the investigation is complete, the Vice-Rector may decide to dismiss the complaint, to issue a reprimand or a warning, or to forward the complaint to the disciplinary committee.

During the hearing conducted by the disciplinary committee, the student against whom the complaint has been made will be questioned once again. Thereafter, the disciplinary committee will decide whether a disciplinary sanction or combination of sanctions needs to be imposed: a warning, a termination of a rental contract, a suspension of the right to use certain student facilities, a suspension of one or more course components or educational activities, a suspension of all educational activities and the use of all student facilities (which may or may not include one or more exam periods) or even expulsion from the university.

What a disciplinary procedure doesn't involve 

The VUB disciplinary procedure is very different to criminal proceedings conducted by the police or the courts. The disciplinary procedure is more limited in its scope, in that:

  • It only applies to the VUB community and for behaviour that contravenes the university’s disciplinary rules. 
  • There are limited means with which to carry out an investigation. Investigations such as forensic investigations, the extraction of information from computers or mobile phones, etc. is required by law to be carried out by the police or the courts. The Vice-Rector or disciplinary committee can only listen to the party or parties involved, and to any witnesses, and base their decision upon the information that is presented to them.
  • Sanctions can only be imposed upon an individual’s studies or accommodation at VUB.
  • Any sanctions imposed will not be published in a register, for example a criminal record or a student file, accessible to other institutions of higher education.

The university disciplinary procedure, and any police investigation will run independently of each other. A disciplinary complaint does not automatically mean that the offence committed will be reported to the police. If you wish to do this, then you will need to make a separate complaint to the police. The Vice-Rector or the disciplinary committee cannot provide any additional follow-up or feedback on the handling of the same complaint that you may make (either at the same time or at a later date) to the police and to the courts.

The disciplinary procedure does not include the provision of any form of psychological or therapeutic help or support. This offer does exist from other VUB services.