Personal data and information access

Accessing your data

Under the Data Protection Act (DPA), you have the right to get a copy of the information that the university holds about you. This is known as a subject access request.

You can ask for copies of both paper and computer records and related information. The university can charge up to £10 for this.

To make a request, you will need to contact the university in writing and include the following information:

  • your full name, address and contact telephone number
  • your personnel/ID number
  • details of the specific information you require and any relevant dates

You may also want to mention that you are making a subject access requests under the Data Protection Act 1998. The university has to reply within 40 days, starting from the day they receive both the fee and the information they need to identify you and the information you need.

However, it is important to remember that not all personal information is covered and there are ‘exemptions’  which may allow the university to refuse to release information. For example, if the information you have asked for contains information that relates to another person, the university needs the other person’s permission. Without this, they are entitled to withhold this information.

Freedom of Information

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) gives you the right to access recorded information held by public sector organisations, including the university. This does not cover personal information, which should be requested under the Data Protection Act (see above).

You can ask for any information you think a public authority may hold. The Act covers all recorded information, including for example official documents, drafts, emails, notes, recordings of telephone conversations and CCTV recordings.

To make a request, you will need to

  • contact the university directly in writing, for example by letter or email
  • give your real name
  • give an address (postal or email) to which the authority can reply

It helps to mention that you are requesting information under the Freedom of Information Act, and to be as specific as possible in identifying the information you want.

The university then has 20 working days to respond to the request. They have to tell you whether they hold any of the information you have requested and provide this information to you. Some information may not be given to you because it is exempt, for example because it would unfairly reveal personal details about somebody else. The university can charge for the costs of sending the information.

Where can I find out more?

If you need any more information or help and advice in submitting a request for personal data or information, contact the branch committee and we will be able to help!