Collating Information FAQs

The following information may be helpful when compiling information to supply in response to a Freedom of Information request.

 

This doesn’t seem like a legitimate use of the FoI Act, do I really need to supply this information?   

 

Anyone can make a FoI request to the University; this includes students, researchers, campaigning organisations, journalists or commercial organisations.  The applicant does not have to reveal why they are asking for the information or how they intend to use it.  There are no limits on what can be asked.  As long as the request is in writing, provides a name and address (or email address) and it is requesting information that is held by the University then the request should be considered as a valid request which needs to be answered.   

 

This information is in our database, but we don’t have it in a readily accessible format. What should I do?   

 

The first thing you need to do is consider how long it would take you to collate the information, if you think another department should provide the information let us know.  You should come up with a reasonable estimate of how long it will take you (this may include writing a new report to retrieve data, or combining information frommultiple sources), you should record how you have come up with the time.  If this estimate is less than 18 hours then we need to supply the information within the deadline.  If it exceeds 18 hours you should contact the RMS with details of how you arrived at the estimate.  Just because you do not normally use the data in the format being requested doesn’t mean that we don’t need to supply it.  If the request is for information from a database, if it can be downloaded into a spreadsheet it is likely that the necessary information can be summarised using some of the analysis functions of excel to identify the required information.

 

What should I do if I don’t have time to compile this information straight away?   

 

You should speak to your line manager if you require more support to compile the information within the deadline, the deadline is based on our legal obligation to respond within a set timeframe.  The University only has 20 working days in which to respond to the request.  A couple of days may have passed before the request has reached you, and time is needed after you supply the information to formulate and approve the final response.  If you cannot meet the deadline you should contact us as soon as possible.   

 

Why do I need to supply this, it is already accessible on the website?   

 

We don’t need to release information that is already available to the applicant, all you need to do is forward the link to us, indicating whether the pages are publicly accessible or require a University login and we can direct the applicant to the information.   

 

I have significant concerns about releasing this information; surely we don’t have to release this?   

 

You should contact us to discuss your concerns; there may be an exemption that can be applied to allow us to withhold the information.  We will need robust reasons for withholding information, so it will be helpful if you can explain exactly why you believe the information should not be released.  It is not enough to say ‘it’s none of their business’ or ‘it’s commercially sensitive’ we need to identify why.