Making a Freedom of Information request
The Freedom of Information (FOI) Act came into force on 1 January 2005. It gives the public a right to request access to information held by the University. The University fully supports this increased public access to information, and already publishes a great deal of information on its website. Not all information held by the University can be released. The University may still not be able to release information for a number of reasons, such as data protection, confidentiality, health and safety or to protect its commercial interests. The University may charge a fee for providing some information.
How can I make a request for information under the Freedom of Information Act?
The easiest way to make a request is to email:
But any request received in writing can be an FOI request. The University may charge a fee for the information or disbursements (postage, photocopying etc where reasonable), which you must provide within three months. Once it has received the fee, the University must respond to requests within 20 working days by:
- confirming whether it holds the information, and
- either providing a copy or summary of the information, or arranging for you to inspect the information,
- or telling you why it has withheld the information
There is also some guidance from the Information Commissioner's Office on how to make a request.
Can I get information about individuals under the Freedom of Information Act?
You cannot get your personal information held by the University under the Freedom of Information Act, but you can ask for it under the Data Protection Act. You can ask for information about other people, but the University can only disclose such information without breaching the Data Protection Act.
What information may be exempt from disclosure?
The University will not usually publish or disclose the following information:
- Any information relating to identifiable, living individuals, without their consent*
- Information that might threaten the health or safety of staff, students or the public
- Information that might damage the commercial interests of the University or another person / organisation
- Information that is accessible elsewhere, even if a charge is involved
- Information that is intended to be published at a later date
- Information relating to legal proceedings
- Information whose publication is forbidden by law or by a court order, or whose publication would place the University in contempt of court
- Information of a genuinely confidential nature
- Information covered by a claim of professional legal privilege
- Information that would prejudice the prevention or detection of crime or the prosecution of offenders
- Information about investigations being carried out by the University that might lead to criminal or civil proceedings
- Information that could prejudice national security
*There can be circumstances where personal data may be disclosed in the public interest e.g. salary details or qualifications of senior officers.
Retention of requests
The University will normally retain a copy of Freedom of Information requests for two years after the final action.