Being called to a Fitness to Practise Panel can be a very stressful and worrying experience. If you have set your heart on a career in Medicine or Law and then your career prospects are put into doubt by having your fitness to practise questioned, then this can have a profound affect on your confidence and understandably cause a great deal of upset.
Students who are on professional training programmes are expected to conduct themselves appropriately and behave in a professional manner, both in the university and outside of it. Quite rightly, professional programmes have a duty to the public to ensure that students who study areas such as medicine, law, social work etc are able to conduct themselves professionally and meet certain standards. However, it is not unknown for students to be unfairly criticised and be wrongly accused in this complex area of the law and this is why, in the event of being called to a Fitness to Practise Panel, it pays to be well prepared and ready to defend your corner.
When fitness to practise concerns arise…
Ideally, fitness to practise concerns should be resolved between the student and the university/college before it gets to the panel stage. In order for this to happen there needs to be a culture of students being able to approach tutors and members of staff to discuss these concerns openly so that appropriate support can be given and action plans out into place. If, for any reason, the situation can’t be resolved amicably at this stage then formal fitness to practise procedures may follow.
Typically, concerns with a student’s fitness to practise will arise if there has been:
- Criminal conviction
- Issues that come to light which haven’t been previously disclosed when starting the course – previous convictions may fall into this area.
- Plagiarising or cheating
- Fraud or dishonesty
- Infrequent or non-attendance of course
- Lack of commitment to the work
- Inappropriate behaviour – bullying, harassment, discrimination
- Breaches of confidentiality
- Health concerns that affect your ability to practise
- Drug and/or alcohol abuse
- Failure to follow professional codes of conduct
The above list is not exhaustive but illustrates common examples of where fitness to practise cases are brought against students.
What action can you take?
Fitness to Practise Panels have the power to impose serious sanctions should you fall below the expected standards and, in a worse case scenario, can exclude you from the course and stop you from pursuing the profession that you’ve set your heart on. With so much at stake it is vital that if you have been called to a Fitness to Practise Panel that you act quickly to defend your case. If you believe that you have been accused unfairly and that you have not received the support you need from the university or college then you should take legal advice. At Match Solicitors we have helped hundreds of students successfully defend fitness to practise allegations and we are one of the leading authorities in this area of Education Law. Contact us now to discuss your case.