What is the document about?

The University of Portsmouth is committed to the ongoing promotion of the welfare of all students participating in sport.  As a University of Portsmouth student, you have the right to take part in a safe, respectful and enjoyable environment. The university is committed to developing a culture free of abuse, discrimination and harm, where everyone feels able to raise any concerns they have and challenge any concerns they see or hear. 

The Student Sport Code of Conduct outlines acceptable behaviour of students participating in university-sanctioned sports activities, this includes activities undertaken both on and off the University campus.

Who is this for?

This document will be of most interest to new and existing students and University staff.

To discuss this policy further please contact paul.tilley@port.ac.uk (Director of Sport).

1. Introduction

1.1  Students participating in our sport and physical activity programmes are expected to adhere to the University’s Student Conduct Policy.

1.2  Students affiliated to the sport and physical activity community through membership of a sports club or programme or by association, are encouraged and empowered to play their part in welcoming others into an inclusive community, valuing and showing respect and compassion for themselves and each other. These principles are set out in the University of Portsmouth Student Charter.

1.3 Students engaging in our sports and physical activity programmes are protected by the university’s Safeguarding Policy.

1.4 There is an expectation that sport and physical activity will take place in an inclusive environment and the principles of dignity and respect are upheld. The university's Dignity and Respect Policy provides a framework for expected behaviours.

1.5 Students participating in sport will be required to follow the code of conduct and National Governing Body (NGB) guidelines relevant to their activity. All students participating in affiliated activity will be subject to the rules and regulations set out by the NGB and where necessary the relevant international federations.


2. What is covered by this policy?

2.1 The policy covers issues concerning unacceptable behaviour whilst taking part in university sanctioned sport activities. Specifically where expectations of student behaviour fall short of expected standards within a sporting context. The expectations of students’ behaviour are set out in the University of Portsmouth Student Charter.

2.2 This policy applies across all aspects of the University of Portsmouth’s sports offer and includes social, training and competitive activities undertaken by students.

2.3 Social Activities including, but not limited to, the following criteria are deemed as an ‘organised’ social event by a sports club.

  • Activity publicised at a sports club meeting or as part of the club’s activities
  • Activity in any way publicised by the club (WhatsApp groups/Snapchat/Instagram etc)
  • Activity funded in part or in whole by UOP Sport
  • Activity requiring the use of equipment owned by the University of Portsmouth
  • Activity where group transport is booked through UOP Sport
  • You are wearing clothing that identifies you with the University of Portsmouth or your club (including fancy dress)

2.4 Disciplinary action against a student may be initiated by any member of staff, or student of the University, or by anyone involved in the student’s provision of work-based learning.


3. How the Policy is Set Out

Unacceptable behaviour within sport and physical activity programmes and facilities will follow the University’s Student Conduct Policy in terms of response. Phase 1 of the policy (Early Intervention) will be managed within the Department of Sport and Recreation, where appropriate. Sport and Recreation staff reserve the right to escalate their response at any point.

Phase 1 - Early Intervention

3.1  Students participating in sport and physical activity and or representative activity can raise a concern via the Team UOP Working Together Form which is available on the sport.port.ac.uk website. During the early intervention phase, it is possible that the matter can be concluded informally. Any informal resolution will be confirmed to a student in writing.

3.2 Access to sport and physical activity services may be restricted during the early intervention phase. We reserve the right to undertake intervention methods with immediate effect.

3.3 Interventions may be put in place for a number of reasons, refer to  Student Conduct Policy 3.1-3.10.

Phase 2 - Investigation

3.4 Complaints received by the Department of Sport and Recreation will be escalated to the Head of School should Phase 1 not facilitate a resolution or the matter is sufficiently serious to require escalation to the Head of School.

3.5 Sport and Recreation will not investigate any complaints, they may support students in collecting evidence and provide statements if appropriate.

Phase 3 - Escalation

3.7 Please see Student Conduct Policy 3.11


4. Unacceptable Behaviour

4.1 The next section sets out our response to an allegation of unacceptable behaviour. The policy is applicable to allegations that have been reported to Sport and Recreation in the first instance or relate to Sport and Recreation activity. This could be reported behaviours whilst using Sport and Recreation Facilities and or reported behaviours whilst participating in University of Portsmouth sports club and sports activity.

4.2 Allegations of unacceptable behaviour can be reported via the Team UOP Working Together form which is available on the sport.port.ac.uk website.

4.3 All allegations will be managed in line with the Student Conduct Policy


5. Unacceptable Behaviour - Definition

5.1 Unacceptable behaviour is defined as behaviour that could be reasonably perceived to cause upset, distress or harm to another person or an organisation.

5.2 Examples of unacceptable behaviour in a sporting context include

  • Antisocial behaviour; use of abusive language, physically or verbally, players, coaches, match officials or other spectators this includes harassment or bullying during club activity, be that training, matches, socials, on social media or other communication channels;
  • Sexual misconduct;
  • Compromising the safety of and/or wellbeing of staff, other students, or visitors, this may include failure to follow the safety guidelines relevant to the sport or activity;
  • To be complicit in the organisation of ‘welcome’ activity for new club members which in the judgement of UOP Sport, has the potential to make the individuals feel humiliated or degraded;
  • Violence and hate crimes against other competitors or your teammates;
  • Behaviour likely to bring the profile of Team UOP into disrepute, such as disruptive behaviour whilst wearing university kit;
  • Disruptive behaviour whilst using sports facilities, both on and off campus;
  • Damage to sports facilities or equipment;
  • Active promotion of antisocial behaviour or initiation/hazing activities;
  • Any other behaviour that would be classed as an alleged criminal offence;
  • Use of any illegal drugs and banned substances in line with UK Anti-Doping guidance.

5.3 Initiation Ceremony (definition) An ‘Initiation Ceremony’ is defined as:

An event in which sports club members (often new) are expected to perform a task or tasks, as a means to gain credibility, status or entry into a sports club. This may be achieved by peer pressure (although not explicitly) and may compromise a person’s inherent dignity by forcing or requiring an individual to partake in activities such as: drinking alcohol, eating mixtures of various foodstuffs, nudity and any other behaviour that may be deemed humiliating. This also extends to online initiation activities on social networking sites or blogs, etc. Individuals should not be pressured into divulging personal information, be subject to comments, photos or images that demean or compromise the dignity of individuals or groups.

5.4 Initiations Prevention of initiations and hazing activities is the responsibility of every member of the University community.

5.5 Social Activities When planning and running club social activities, the following must occur:

  • All activities must be opt-in and have no bearing on the acceptance into the team/squad selection or equivalent
  • Peer pressure must not be exerted on individuals
  • Activities must not be humiliating, unlawful or degrading
  • Activities must not involve the forced consumption of any fluid/substance
  • Taking of alcohol to the activity/event must not be made a condition of attendance
  • If activities involve alcohol then non-alcoholic drinks must be made available
  • Activities must not bring the reputation of The University into question or disrepute.


6. Unacceptable Behaviour Phase 1 Intervention

6.1  If a member of staff, student or third party raises a concern regarding the behaviour of a student participating in university sport and physical activity programmes,  these concerns should be passed to the Director of Sport. The Director of Sport will then identify who will be the Authorised Person to take the case forward.

6.2 The Authorised Person shall review the concerns and write to the student to explain the suspected unacceptable behaviour.   The student will be provided with any evidence at this phase.

6.3 The Authorised Person will meet with the student, who will have the opportunity to respond. The meeting will also seek to discuss possible interventions that can be put in place to mitigate or address the concerns raised and provide support to those involved.  In some circumstances, it may be necessary for the University to restrict a student’s access to the campus or services while an investigation is undertaken. This action does not indicate the student is at fault; it is a precautionary measure while the matter is being reviewed.

6.4 If the matter is resolved to the satisfaction of all parties, there is no further action required.  This will be communicated via email to the student and person who reported the unacceptable behaviour by the Authorised Person. If this is not the case then the Authorised Person should proceed to Phase 2 Investigation.

6.5 We support and encourage a restorative approach to intervention measures. However, where formal sanctions are deemed necessary, the sanctions in table 4 should be considered for the first offence.  It is important to consider extenuating factors when determining penalties such as whether the student has shown remorse, admitted the offence quickly etc.  Reasonable judgements should be applied when interpreting the type and seriousness of misconduct and the circumstances in which they occurred in regard to level 1 sanctions:

Types of Behaviour Misconduct Types of early resolutions/actions for level 1 first offence
  • Inappropriate chanting as a spectator of sport
  • Bringing alcohol onto sports facilities
  • Rude or inappropriate behaviour towards staff/officials
  • Misuse of official club social media account
  • Deliberately seek to gain an advantage through cheating, or use of prohibited substances
  • Organising inappropriate social activities
  • Be required to apologise to teammates, the other team, the referee or the team manager
  • Receive a formal written warning from the Director of Sport
  • Be required to attend an education course
  • Receive a suspension from University sport activity and or facilities
  • Be required to leave a sports club
  • Become ineligible to apply for a leadership role in the future

7. Unacceptable Behaviour Phase 2 Investigation

7.1 Where a case is not concluded at Phase 1 Early Intervention, the case will be escalated in line with the Student Conduct Policy 12.1-12.11.   

7.2 Examples of Level 2 offences that may be directly escalated into Phase 2 include:

  • Bullying and/or harassment
  • Violent Behaviour
  • Significant damage to University premises (including sports facilities/equipment)
  • Repeated Phase 1 Behaviour

7.3 An Investigator will be appointed by either the Head of School, Associate Dean (Students) or Academic Registrar


8. Unacceptable Behaviour Phase 3 Escalation

8.1 If the Investigator believes that a level 3 Behavioural Offence has been committed they need to submit a signed and dated Phase 3 Behavioural Report to the DSAA.

8.2 The case will be escalated in line with the Student Conduct Policy 13.1-13.11

8.3  Examples of Level 3 offences that may be escalated into phase three include

  • Repeated Phase 2 behaviour
  • Sexual misconduct
  • Violence and hate crimes against other competitors or your teammates
  • Behaviour which may also constitute a criminal offence
  • Promotion or organisation of initiation activity