Frequently Asked Questions IE Code of Ethical Conduct Explained: Reasoning behind the Code, Rights, and Responsibilities

What is IE Code of Ethical Conduct and why is it important?

The IE community has established standards of academic and community conduct because it believes that the reputation and quality of life within this community are inevitably determined by the actions of each of its members. Whatever one member says, does, or omits to do invariably also reflects upon how the public at large views this school and its graduates. An IE degree is consistently assessed not only by the academic reputation of the school but also by the reputation of those who carry its banner. Therefore, IE is dedicated to the continuous enhancement of the academic and community environment of this school.


What is the purpose of the Code of Ethical Conduct?

The Code of Ethical Conduct defines the standards for academic and community conduct, rights and responsibilities of students as members of this community, procedures for handling allegations of misconduct and dishonesty, and sets forth the possible sanctions for failure to meet these standards.

As a member of the IE Community, students agree to act in a way that enables the community’s values to flourish. This includes adhering to a basic set of academic and community rules, which are embodied in the IE Code of Ethical Conduct.


How does this Code benefit us all?

It is important to stress that the Code is not borne out of a distrust of students. Rather the opposite is true. IE believes that the Code merely codifies the values and standards that each student, as prescreened through the admissions process, should already possess. But because IE recognizes that not all individuals may believe in the need for a Code of proper conduct to guarantee academic and community standards, IE has nevertheless established this Code for the precise purpose of protecting those who do. Thus, students who do choose to conduct themselves according to the highest ethical standards are ensured an atmosphere of integrity and personal and academic honesty.


What is expected of students in terms of academic standards?

Students are expected to complete all examinations, tests, written assignments, oral presentations, online posts, and other work in accordance with the standards set forth in this Code. In particular, this means that students shall not engage in any form of “cheating”, plagiarism, or any kind of academic misconduct.


How do I know if a particular practice is OK or not?

Students are responsible for becoming familiar with their rights and responsibilities as defined by the Code of Ethical Conduct and are responsible for knowing the requirements for their particular course (regarding, for example, issues such as collaborative work, use of study aids, or what information can be used during take-home examinations). Where a student is unsure whether conduct could violate the standards of academic conduct as set forth in the Code, the student has an obligation to seek clarification first and foremost from the instructor and secondly, if necessary, from the program managers. As is the case with all rules everywhere, saying afterwards you did not know them is not an acceptable excuse.


What is expected of students in terms of community standards?

IE celebrates and fosters the diversity, freedom of expression, and professionalism of its students, faculty and staff. To create and maintain an environment in which these attributes may flourish, every member of this community has the obligation, even when asserting the right to free expression, to avoid all behavior that may be intentionally offensive to another on the basis of race, religion, nationality or origin, age, gender, sexual orientation, disability, or political beliefs. Furthermore, all students must not engage in any misconduct that affects another’s rights or property. Nor should any student misrepresent herself to third parties placing into question the integrity of the entire community.


What are the limits in which the Ethics Code may be applied?

The “academic rules” do not have a physical crossing line in terms of applying these rules. Students are also expected to respect the “community rules” wherever they may be, but they will not be subject to judgment by the rules of this Code when the actions occur “off campus”, unless such actions directly affect to IE community´s welfare or core values. In online programs, the actions limits are the virtual learning environment.


What is the Ethics Committee?

The Ethics Committee is a committee made up of IE professors and students that meet to give advice on issues of ethical conduct and analyze specific cases of potential violations of the Code of Ethical Conduct.


How does the process work?

When a student, professor, or staff member witnesses a potential infraction of the Ethics Code, he or she must report the infraction to the program director. The program director will evaluate the issue, make an initial assessment of the alleged infraction, and determine whether the allegation falls within the scope of the Code. Depending on this first assessment, the program director can refer the matter to the Ethics Committee or, if the case is easily identified and there are precedents of sanctions applied to the similar cases the program director may apply the established sanction, by no means refusing a personal meeting with the student to discuss his or her behaviour and communicate the school’s disapproval. If the Program Directors believe that the case warrants convening the Ethics Committee, the Chair of the Committee will be informed and will summon a meeting to discuss the case. (see chapter 8 of the Code Ethical Conduct).


What are my rights if I am accused of an infraction and the matter has been referred to the Ethics Committee?

A student accused of an infraction will be innocent and must be treated as such until the decided sanction is announced as a disciplinary action.

If a student is accused of an academic or community infraction and the program director decides to refer the matter to the Ethics Committee, he or she will receive a written note from the Chair of the Committee detailing the alleged misconduct. The student should carefully read the allegations and decide how to respond.


I am pretty sure I won’t violate IE’s academic and community standards – how does the Code apply to me?

All students share responsibility for the implementation of the Code of Ethical Conduct. In particular, as members of the IE Community, students have an obligation to work with other community members to foster and promote an environment consistent with the academic and community values contained in the Code.

There are lots of things each and every one of us can do. Most important is helping other students make sound ethical judgments that are consistent with the values that govern this community. We expect each member of this community to speak up and confront a fellow student who may – consciously or unconsciously – engage in unethical or inappropriate behaviour. We also hope you will help other students understand the rules spelled out in the Code and help them adhere to them by offering, for instance, help on how to properly cite sources in reports and papers and similar matters. Another way of contributing is volunteering to serve as an elected Ethics representative.

Since the responsibility of implementing the Code is borne by all members of the IE Community – including students – students may also wish to inform program managers about circumstances that they believe could enable or might already constitute an infraction of academic and community standards.

Most importantly, students should work with professors and staff to continuously improve the academic and community environment and thereby strengthen the values underpinning this community. Where appropriate, students should suggest changes to rules and procedures – including the Code itself – to foster those values.


What do I do if I witness a potential infraction?

As noted above, the implementation of the IE Code of Ethical Conduct is the obligation of all members of the IE Community, including students. We certainly do not want to have a “police state” environment in which students feel they should turn each other in. It is our firm belief that people are good and that everybody at IE has come here to work and study in an environment in which it is safe to conduct oneself according to the highest ethical standards.

Problems arise when conduct by individuals negatively affects other members of the community. Because IE uses a curved grading system in which grades are allocated based on relative position vis-à-vis other students, for instance, unfair advantages to some through cheating or plagiarism do harm to others. In extreme cases, a student’s academic status in the program may be in jeopardy because of a grade received in part because cheating by others has distorted the allocation of grades.

When it comes to reporting a potential infraction, students should use their common sense. Particularly if they feel that the actions of one or more fellow students put the academic and/or community environment at IE in jeopardy or could significantly harm other community members, they should report the circumstances to the Academic Director. A reporting student may, but is under no obligation to, name the student or students involved in a potential infraction. Nevertheless, he or she should provide enough information – such as the course or context in which the matter in question occurred – to enable the Academic Director to take measures that ensure nobody is harmed and everybody’s rights are respected.

Remember that the idea behind reporting a potential infraction is not to “catch a crook” or to “play police” but rather to help the program management team work with other members of the IE community to bring about circumstances in which such infractions cannot occur. An example would be to provide information that helps a professor change the structure of a particular assignment to ensure everybody gets the grade they deserve.


If I witness something, do I have to testify in the proceedings?

Students who report potential infractions do not have an obligation to testify if such a report does – after additional research by the Academic Director – lead the Academic Director to deal with the case or refer it to the Ethics Committee. The same applies to witnesses. If a student does not wish to testify in such a proceeding, the Academic Director needs to find sufficient evidence from other sources in order to sustain a charge without that student’s testimony. If there is not sufficient evidence without the student’s testimony and the student is unwilling to testify, the case will simply be closed.


What sanctions can be imposed for violations of the Code?

The particular sanction imposed depends on the seriousness and nature of the infraction. Repeat infractions by the same student are considered more severely. For violations of academic standards, the sanctions range from resubmission of the assignment in question all the way to dismissal from IE in case of particularly serious and/or repeat offenses.

On the community standards side, sanctions for violations can range from a simple warning through an obligation to present a written apology to an injured party all the way to dismissal from IE.

Sanctions imposed in violation of IE’s academic and community standards become part of the student’s official IE record.