Standards of professional behaviour

Basic Principles

The Peter B. Gustavson School of Business works to develop business leaders with the management knowledge, skills and values necessary to work efficiently and responsibly in a changing global economy. To that end, the faculty, staff and students work together to promote professionalism and integrity in all our graduates – attributes that will prepare our students for real roles of leadership and accomplishment, and make them stand out among business school graduates. 

It isn't always easy to know how to act in a specific situation. There are many grey areas and only time, experience and maturity help us develop fully as professionals. UVic is committed to promoting, providing and protecting a supportive and safe learning and working environment for all its members. That's why the Gustavson School of Business strives to create an atmosphere that will support us in our efforts to make the most of our potential and education. This guide has been designed to explain the expectations the School of Business has of its students, faculty and staff, and to explain how we can all work together to produce the responsible business leaders Canada needs.

The principles explained in this document apply to faculty and staff, as well as students. The sanctions generally described may seem to apply only to students. That is because the procedures and sanctions to discipline faculty and staff are specified in University policies and contracts. If you feel a faculty or staff member has violated these standards, you should feel free to discuss it with that individual, the Dean, the Associate Dean - Programs, or the University Ombudsperson. As in the case of student violations, the School will investigate such issues and take appropriate actions. The Policy for Student Appeals can be found in the most recent UVic Calendar.

Students should be aware that this is only one of many sets of professional standards that they will be asked to adhere to in their business career paths. The Gustavson School of Business asks its students to make this commitment to honesty, integrity and respect as they move to graduating as a professional business leader.

What is professionalism?

What is professionalism? First and foremost, it is a set of ethics, values and approaches to learning and doing business characterized by:

Courtesy and respect for others is a fundamental element of business behaviour, just as it is of personal behaviour. As a professional, you understand and accommodate differences among classmates and colleagues, give fair and constructive feedback when asked for evaluations, contribute equitably to group work, and are punctual to meetings, classes, events and functions, and attentive to those speaking.  You should avoid being disruptive to the learning environment, remain in the room during class, and follow class guidelines on the use of technology and social media.  Professionals also respect others' expectations of confidentiality and privacy.

This guide covers the following topics:

Group activities

Students and members of the faculty often complete projects and assignments as part of a group. It is important to remember certain guidelines when placed in this situation.

  • Credit work to all members of the group, especially when using the work for other purposes (e.g. when submitting a group report to a potential employer as a sample of your writing ability, you should cite the names of the other students who worked on the paper).
  • It is unprofessional to let one or two members of the group do most of the work when the final grade or reward will be shared by the entire group as it circumvents the learning process.  The group should attempt to resolve any misallocation of workload early in the process, and if difficulties persist, should seek advice from the professor or instructor as soon as possible.
  • Collaboration on class assignments is only permitted with the instructor's permission and then only to the extent stipulated by the instructor. Be sure you understand the acceptable level of collaboration in each of your courses.
  • We should each be a responsible and professional part of the group. This means delivering on work commitments, being prepared and on-time for meetings, and carrying an equitable workload share.
  • We all deserve respect, consideration and common courtesy as members of the Gustavson School of Business. Deal with anger, tension and personality conflicts in constructive ways. Rude, insulting or disrespectful language or actions is neither professional nor appropriate.
  • If group members reveal anything about themselves in confidence to other group members, and do not wish this information to be divulged outside the group, this should be respected. This would also apply to any confidential information about a third party or organization (e.g. a previous employer) that a member may divulge for group work purposes only.
  • Any instances of physical, verbal, and/or emotional abuse, including harassment, racism, and intimidation that threaten a safe environment are not tolerated and may result in remediation (e.g., EDI training) and in extreme cases being removed from the program.
  • Failure to meet any of the above expectations may result in being removed from the program or other academic penalty. 

What to do if there is a problem in your group or if some of the above expectations are not met:

If you feel there is a problem with the way your group is functioning, it is your responsibility to follow this step-by-step process:

  1. Discuss with your whole group first, and refer to your program-specific team documents and guides as a basis for conversation and feedback.
  2. If still unresolved, then discuss with your instructor/supervisor.
  3. If still unresolved, then escalate to Program Director for initial meeting and further investigation as needed.

Circumventing the learning process

Course materials, assignments or discussion material are crucial elements of a teaching pedagogy. Cases and problem solving assignments may be used in successive semesters because they make a unique or valuable contribution by helping you learn by doing. Trying to shortcut this approach hinders both your learning, and that of your classmates, in classroom case discussions. It is unfair to classmates and seriously undermines the instructor's course objectives.

How to know what's allowed:

Your instructor or professor determines the use of outside materials in his/her course.  They may encourage the use of all available sources or want you to rely on your own problem-solving skills and knowledge.   If you are not sure whether a certain activity is allowed, do ask your instructor or professor. Otherwise, it is best to assume the use of outside material isn't permitted.

Examples of circumventing the learning process in this way may include, but are not limited to:

  • Receiving or seeking copies of, or notes about, graded assignments, exams and cases from previous semesters. Giving or selling notes about graded assignments, exams and cases to students taking or about to take the course. Providing hints and answers to students in another section of the course (e.g. day section to evening section) about graded cases, exams and assignments. Trying to find out what happened in the case in advance of the class discussion or contacting the case company to obtain additional information concerning the decision situation.

Cheating and Plagiarism:

As a program that helps to foster responsible business and government leaders, the Gustavson School of Business has an obligation to ensure academic integrity of the University’s highest standards.

A student who violates academic integrity standards will fail the assignment and potentially fail the course, with a letter of reprimand placed in the student’s record in the Registrar’s office.

Students are expected to carefully review the following points discussing academic integrity and group projects that have been adopted by our School. Acts of academic dishonesty include, but are not limited to:

  • using the exact words of a published or unpublished author without quotation marks and without referencing the source of these words.
  • paraphrasing a published or unpublished author without referencing the source.
  • duplicating a table, graph or diagram, in whole or in part, without referencing the source.
  • paraphrasing the conceptual framework, research design, interpretation, or any other ideas of another person, whether written or verbal (e.g. personal communication, ideas from a verbal presentation) without referencing the source.
  • copying the answers of another student in any test, examination, or take-home assignment.
  • providing answers to another student in any test, examination, or take-home assignment.
  • taking any unauthorized materials (crib notes) into an examination or term test.
  • impersonating another student or allowing another person to impersonate oneself for the purpose of submitting academic work or writing any test or examination.
  • stealing or mutilating library materials.
  • accessing a test prior to the time and date of the sitting.
  • changing the name or answer(s) on a test after that test has been graded and returned.
  • submitting the same paper or portions thereof for more than one assignment, without prior discussions with the instructor(s) involved.

Students should be aware that all instructors reserve the right to use any plagiarism detection software program(s) to detect plagiarism for essays, term papers and other assignments.

What to do if you observe or are aware of a violation:

You may report the cheating or plagiarism to the instructor of the course. If, for any reason, you are uncomfortable doing that, the Ombudsperson is available to help.

What happens if there is a violation?

All violations will immediately be referred to the Associate Dean, Programs.

Co-op work terms (includes confidentiality)

The co-op partnership involves students, employers and UVic working together to provide experiential education in the workplace.  Every student in a co-op placement must recognize his or her responsibility to UVic Co-op and the co-op employer, and adhere to relevant co-op program requirements. As part of the Co-op agreement, students will be expected to sign a Terms and Conditions Agreement relevant to their degree program.

Prior to a work term:

Students must honour the acceptance of co-op employment as a contractual agreement with the employer. Once you accept a confirmed job offer for a term, you must withdraw from other interviews and applications. If you have pending interviews, you must notify the Gustavson Co-op office about the confirmed offer.

During a work term:

You are expected to be a productive, motivated and responsible employee, and respect the employer’s policies and confidentiality. You must notify the Gustavson Co-op office of any confirmed or pending future co-op work terms with an employer, including extensions.

Work Search Deadlines & Responsibilities:

You are required to familiarize yourself with the program and job application deadline dates and to meet these deadlines during the application process. Gustavson Co-op uses UVic email accounts. You are expected to monitor the Learning in Motion website and your UVic email on a daily basis during the co-op term.


When you go out on work terms or interview companies for the purposes of class assignments, you may be exposed to confidential or sensitive information related to the job or assignment.

Be sure you understand how much confidentiality your host company expects when it comes to information about an organization, its structure and activities. Some information may only be shared with your professor or co-op coordinator. If your assignment requires that you share information with classmates during a group presentation, the employer/contact should be made aware of this prior to providing you with the information in question. As an added safeguard, obtain permission to use information from the contact, in writing, before proceeding with the assignment.

In cases of flagrant abuse, which might include disclosing an employer's plans to a competitor or using classified information for personal gain, disciplinary proceedings may result. If the breach of trust causes an employer to lose profit or potential profits, you could be held liable for damages. Other legal penalties could apply.

Confidentiality and Co-op Work Term Reports:

Before using any information as part of a work term report or class assignment, consult with your employer or work supervisor. In some cases, the work may be classified as a proprietary document and may not be removed from your employer's premises without specific permission. In this instance, the employer may prefer to assess and assign any grades for the work. This is the procedure for co-op work term reports that are confidential. This may not be applicable to other class assignments.

It is also important to remember that information gained while on a work term should not be used for subsequent assignments without the permission of the employer.

Withdrawal From or Failing a Work Term:

A student may be assessed a ‘Fail’ for his or her work term for any of the following reasons:

  • Failure to report to work at the employer’s location
  • Ending a work term without permission from a co-op coordinator
  • Dismissal based on the student’s actions
  • Unsatisfactory performance as determined by the employer
  • Failure to submit a work term report to Gustavson Co-op by the stated deadline
  • Submitting false information for the purpose of obtaining a work term challenge, to secure a position or to gain credit for completing the work term

What happens if you fail a work term?

The assessment of a fail for a co-op work term may result in the student’s withdrawal from his/her co-op program.

Conflict of interest

It is important that students assess personal interests, activities and relationships before accepting a co-op position or embarking on a class assignment to ensure that being in a certain environment or participating in an activity does not invoke a potential or real conflict of interest.

An example of a conflict of interest would be working for a company that is a competitor to a company in which you hold a controlling interest.

What to do if there is a problem:

If you are unsure about whether accepting a co-op job or class assignment would place you in a potential conflict of interest, discuss the issues with your supervisor, co-op coordinator, or instructor.

International exchange

In order to go on a Gustavson exchange, students must read and sign an International Exchange Contract. This agreement covers the terms and conditions of program acceptance, participation and termination.  It includes many items pertaining to students’ professional behaviour and their commitment to being suitable representatives and ambassadors of the Gustavson School of Business.

Use of computing, communication and library resources

The Gustavson School of Business provides faculty and staff with electronic information resources; students have access to UVic computing and library resources in various locations on campus. These resources are a privilege and must be shared by a large number of people. In addition, the information they contain or produce often has commercial value and should be handled as below:

Appropriate use of these resources:

Appropriate use of these information resources is specified by law, University policy and fair practice. To that end, students are expected to abide by the following standards:

  • All members of the Gustavson School of Business community must comply with the University of Victoria's policy on "Acceptable Use of Electronic Information Resources" (University Policy IM7200).   
  • School of Business equipment and resources are for use only for course work, school activities, or work related to one's role in the School of Business. Using school or university resources for commercial purposes or providing access to the resources to friends, relatives or employers is strictly prohibited.
  • Photocopying or electronically reproducing material extracted from online databases is expressly prohibited under the terms of the permission. We are allowed one copy of such material for personal use, but may not give that copy to anyone for copying or copy it ourselves.
  • Copying of other material is governed by copyright laws. All members of the School of Business community are bound by those laws. Copies of the laws, regulations and restrictions are available from the Library and posted near photocopiers.

What happens if there is a violation?

Violation of these standards will be referred to the Associate Dean, Programs for discipline and potential legal actions. Specific sanctions will depend on the severity of the violation and whether or not this is a first violation. Possible sanctions include (but are not limited to):

  • Temporary or permanent withdrawal of privileges for the use of computing, communications or Electronic Library resources;
  • Laying of charges under the Criminal Code (in the event, for example, of theft, malicious damage or violation of intellectual property rights).

What to do if you observe or are aware of a violation:

You may report the problem to the computer staff, or any instructor or administrator. If, for any reason, you are uncomfortable doing that, the Ombudsperson is available to help. 

Process for handling unprofessional behaviour

Unprofessional behaviour may be resolved by the instructor in the course, or referred to the Academic Program Director. In the event that behaviour is referred to the Program Director, that Director will appoint an individual to collect all material and information relevant to the breach. All involved parties will be entitled to speak to or provide written submissions to a hearing. The Program Director will render a decision in writing as advice to the Associate Dean, Programs, who will advise the candidate of his or her final decision.

In all cases, privacy of information, due process and procedural justice will be adhered to with respect to the individuals involved. Furthermore, any discipline will be based on clear and convincing evidence of guilt. No sanctions or disciplinary action shall be taken against any individual who brings a complaint on a good faith belief in its validity, even if the complaint is later dismissed.

About the guide

This guide was approved by Faculty Council on May 13, 2015

It was original approved by University of Victoria Senate, January 1997

Students wishing to appeal a decision should follow the process outlined in the Student Academic Appeals Policy.