Freedom of Information - what does it mean for staff
Under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA), all individuals have a legal right to request information held by any public authority including universities.
This means right of access to all recorded information held by the University (including emails, letters, minutes, spreadsheets etc), even audio, video and CCTV recordings can be requested. The University does not have to create new information in response to a request.
In writing...with name and address
The request for information has to be made in writing and the requester has to provide a name and address (an email address will do) but the request does not have to mention the FOIA. The request can be to anyone in the University and be from anyone, anywhere.
The requester does not have to specify the purpose of their request
Any request for information automatically triggers the FOIA unless it is ‘business as usual’. If it is beyond the scope of normal business or you are refusing to provide any information requested, treat it as a FOI request.
The Information Compliance team can...
The University’s Information Compliance Team (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the point of contact for all such requests. They may need you to help find the information requested. If they do so, please:
- Do remember that it is a legal obligation to respond to a request.
- Do deal with the matter promptly despite other demands on time, and ensure all information relevant to the request has been identified.
- Do treat the requester like a customer and give them a good experience in their dealings with the University.
- Do make sure that all of your communications are appropriate and professional. They can also be the subject of a FOI request.
- Do make sure you recognise when you receive a request for data and don’t ignore it; if you are unsure, the Information Compliance Team will be able to help.
If you do not normally deal with such matters, do inform your Line Manager immediately upon receipt of a request for information.
The deadline for responding to requests is 20 working days. There are some exemptions, but in most cases we must release the data. The exemptions are tightly worded, so the Information Compliance Team will need to know what information the University holds before they can tell which exemptions will apply, even if it is clear that the data will not be released.
The Act requires the University to give requesters advice and assistance to help them formulate their request and to help them understand what information the University holds.
Information Security Office
Oxford Brookes University
Oxford OX3 0BP
+ 44 (0) 1865 484354