Freedom of Information - Complaints Procedure
If you have a complaint regarding your studies which does not relate to the Freedom of Information Act please visit the university's Appeals and Complaints web page.
The University is committed to meeting its obligations under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FoIA) regarding both the maintenance of a proper publications scheme and answering requests for information. However, it recognises that it may make mistakes and that those seeking information may be dissatisfied with the service they receive. The University is equally committed to investigating complaints promptly and thoroughly and rectifying any mistakes.
Any concern relating to the way the University is meeting its obligations under the FoIA may be raised under this complaints procedure. Possible examples include:
- if you are unable to obtain information included within the University's publication scheme
- if the University does not respond to a written request for information within 20 working days without a lawful justification
- if the University provides the wrong or insufficient information
- if you disagree with the decision that the information requested cannot be released because it falls under one of the permitted exemptions
Timing of a complaint
It is in everyone's interests that complaints are dealt with as quickly as possible. Issues should be raised as they arise: delays make it difficult to investigate properly. The University reserves the right not to consider a complaint, whether formal or informal, when it is raised for the first time more than two months after the act or omission of the University which is the focus of the complaint.
It is desirable to resolve most concerns informally and if you have a concern please use this route first. Informal resolution is taken to mean by agreement with appropriate University staff without having recourse to the formal procedure described below in paragraphs 5-8. You should raise your concern with the member of staff who dealt with your initial request. If you are unsure who this is then please see the contact details in paragraph 12 below. It may be helpful to put your concern in writing but it is also possible to make informal complaints by telephone.
If you have been unable to resolve your concern informally or you consider your complaint to be of such significance that it requires a formal response, you may wish to make a formal complaint. You should:
- put this in writing
- include a statement that it is a formal complaint relating to FoIA
- make it clear what you are complaining about, why you think the University has been at fault and what you want the University to do about it
Formal complaints will be considered by the Vice Chancellor or nominee. The person considering the complaint will not have been involved in any act or responsible for any omission which is the subject of the complaint. For the address for sending formal complaints please see the contact details in paragraph 12 below.
You will receive an acknowledgement of receipt of the complaint by the University within three working days of the complaint being received. The timetable and process for dealing with the complaint will be determined by the person considering the complaint. These will be sufficient to ensure that a reasoned judgement is possible while recognising the desirability of a speedy outcome. Normally it should be possible to come to a decision within 20 working days of the complaint being received. If and when it becomes apparent that reaching a conclusion will take longer than 20 working days the University will inform you and explain the reason for the delay.
Once a decision has been reached, the Vice Chancellor or nominee will communicate the outcome of the complaint in writing. If the complaint is upheld this will include an indication of how the University is going to rectify the error. If the complaint is rejected, this will include the reason for the decision and notification that a complaint may be made to the Information Commission (see paragraph 12 below).
If the complaint is upheld either at the informal or formal stage, the University will do as much as is feasible to rectify its error. This may include one or more of:
- an apology
- a response to a request for information which had been ignored
- the provision of additional information
- the provision of information previously denied
- a correction to information supplied previously
The Information Commission is an independent body which oversees the operation of the FoIA. If you are dissatisfied with the outcome of a formal complaint to the University regarding FoIA you may complain to the Information Commission which has various powers of investigation and enforcement. The Information Commission is very unlikely to investigate a complaint unless it has first been through the University's formal complaint procedure. Contact details for the Information Commission are provided below in paragraph 12.
Records and review
The University will keep records of all formal complaints and their outcomes and will use such information to inform reviews of its publication scheme and of processes for responding to individual requests. The details of those making complaints will be confidential to those staff involved in the consideration and investigation of a complaint and to those staff involved in maintaining the records of complaints.
If you are unsure who to contact in relation to an informal complaint please contact in the first instance:
Senior officer: information governance
Sheffield Hallam University
Phone: 0114 225 3361
Please submit formal complaints to:
Professor Chris Husbands
The Vice Chancellor
Sheffield Hallam University
Contact and information details for the Information Commission
FOI Compliance Team (complaints)
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