Releasing information to parents and third parties
The University regularly receives enquiries from parents and other third parties regarding students. However, the University’s ‘contract’ is with the student (or applicant) and we are not obliged to release information to parents (or third parties), in most cases the law (Data Protection Act 1998) strictly prevents us from disclosing information even if the third party is contributing to tuition fees.
The Data Protection Act
The Data Protection Act protects individuals’ rights with regards to their personal data, regulating the information that can be held, how it is processed and to whom it can be disclosed. When a student registers at the University they sign and accept our Data Protection Notice, this outlines the main ways in which the University will process a student’s personal data. Normally personal data will only be disclosed to third parties if the disclosure is the purpose for which the data was collected and provided the data subject is aware, or would reasonably expect the release.
What can the University tell you?
Confirming/denying that an individual is a student here would infringe the DPA and may in extreme circumstances result in placing an individual in danger. However, we do understand that parents may be concerned about their son/daughter and will happily discuss University procedures i.e. explain examination procedures, discuss the implications of failing a module, accommodation costs etc. You may also find the following information helpful:
About the University of Exeter (including links to term dates and key contacts): http://www.ex.ac.uk/about/facts
Undergraduate students information: http://www.ex.ac.uk/study/undergraduate/
Postgraduate student information: http://www.ex.ac.uk/study/postgraduate/
A full list of the Student Support Services can be accessed here: http://www.ex.ac.uk/students/support.shtml
If a student has given us consent to discuss a certain matter with a third party then we will happily do so.
In some circumstances you may have major concerns (e.g. have not heard from your son/daughter for months), in these cases if you leave contact details/correspondence with us, should the individual be a student here we will endeavour to pass them on and encourage the student to make contact, if the individual is not a student the details will be securely destroyed.
There may occasionally be exceptional circumstances (life or death situations) in which the usual need to obtain consent before disclosing information may be waived. In these circumstances the University would disclose information to a nominated emergency contact, provided by students at registration. If an enquirer claims to have a legal right to the information we would assume that they represent an official organisation which is fully aware of the Data Protection Act and which has its own code or procedures. We would therefore not expect any objection to a small delay in providing the information while we check credentials and the claimed right of access.