The Freedom of Information Act 2000 came into force in January 2005. It is intended to make public authorities more open and accountable. The Act places two main responsibilities on public authorities:
To produce a Publication Scheme and Guide to Information identifying all the information that the College already publishes. The College follows the model publication scheme for higher education institutions approved by the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO).
To respond to requests for information. This gives individuals the right to request recorded information held by the College. They have the right to be told whether or not the information is held and, if it is, to have the information communicated to them.
The Publication Scheme follows the model publication scheme.
Requests for information
Freedom of Information requests must be made in writing and have a valid address to respond to.
Public authorities must respond to a request within 20 working days.
The Act is "requestor blind" so all requests have to be treated the same way. However, there may be occasions when this does not apply e.g. if the request is for personal data or if the request could be considered vexatious or repeated.
The Freedom of Information Act contains a number of exemptions, which specify the circumstances when public authorities are not obliged to provide information.
Royal Holloway is committed to being as open and transparent as possible, however, on some occasions it may be appropriate to apply an exemption. Below is a brief guide to the exemptions which are most likely to be used:
- Information about other people - personal information about third parties is exempt if disclosure would be contrary to the data protection principles set down in the Data Protection Act.
- Information provided in confidence where disclosure of information would constitute an actionable breach of confidence.
- Commercially sensitive information where disclosure of information would prejudice the commercial interests of Royal Holloway or another body.
- Information where disclosure would endanger the health and safety of other people.
- Information which is readily accessible by other means. This applies to information that is readily available elsewhere e.g. on the College's website or published elsewhere.
- The College may also decline to release information if it is intended for future publication.
The College may also refuse a request if the cost of locating or extracting the information is estimated to exceed the appropriate limit. This has been set at £450 or 18 hours of staff time at the rate of £25 per hour. This rate is the same for any member of staff who deals with the request.
Making an FOI request
Although requests can be sent to any staff member we recommend that requests are sent to the following address to ensure that they are dealt with promptly.
Freedom of Information
Royal Holloway, University of London
Surrey TW20 OEX
The request should include a name, an address for correspondence and the address the information should be sent to (if different) as well as a description of the information requested.
In order to ensure that we have understood a request we may ask for further clarification about the information required. Once a request for the clarification has been made the 20 working day response time stops until a reply is received from the requestor.
When replying to a request the College will confirm or deny whether the information is held by the College. If we hold the information we will either provide it or explain how it can be accessed. If we cannot provide the information we will explain why the decision was made to apply an exemption. We will also explain what to do if you are not satisfied with the way the request has been handled.
If you are not satisfied with the response to your request you can request an internal review by writing to:
Deputy College Secretary - Secretariat@royalholloway.ac.uk
Or by post to:
Deputy College Secretary
Royal Holloway, University of London
You can also read our complaints procedure.