What are my rights? How do I make a request?
You have the right to contact the University and ask for information which we hold on any subject or relating to any particular topic. Any information held by the University may be eligible for release.
However, a number of exemptions may be applied to protect information which needs to be restricted (see below). If we cannot tell you whether we have the information you want, or if we refuse to disclose information we hold, we will explain the reasons and you will have the opportunity to appeal against our decision. If we do not have the information, but know that it may be held by another public authority we will tell you and we may forward your request.
If the information you require is not available via the University's publication scheme, you will need to put your request in writing. Please send your request to the University Secretariat by e-mail at email@example.com or post to:
Sheffield Hallam University
You should expect a response from the University within twenty working days. We may need more details from you or clarification of what you want before we can either locate the information or respond appropriately. There may be a charge for complicated requests, but we will try to deal with simple and routine requests at no cost to you. Fees will be calculated in accordance with the Fees Regulations.
The Freedom of Information Act does not oblige a public authority to comply with a request for information if the cost of finding or copying the information would be disproportionately high. Similarly public authorities are not obliged to respond to vexatious or repeated requests. Public authorities are not expected to comply with requests for information unless the person making the request gives enough of a description to allow the information required to be identified.
The Act also lists a number of exemptions to the right of access. Public authorities are not required to release information to which an exemption in the Act legitimately applies. However, they may be required to explain to the applicant why they are not releasing information and they may also have to justify this to the Information Commissioner. The exemptions include:
- information already accessible elsewhere - if this is the case, we will endeavour to direct you to the authority which holds the information.
- information provided to us in confidence
- personal information - this is covered by the Data Protection Act and is only available to the individual concerned
- information which might endanger the physical or mental health or the personal safety of an individual or group of individuals
- information intended for future publication - if we are planning to publish this information, you may have to wait until it is published before you can access it
- information which would be likely to prejudice the commercial interests of a public authority
- information which would prejudice the effective conduct of public affairs
Certain exemptions are subject to a public interest test which means that public authorities may be required to release information if the public interest is deemed to outweigh any concerns that the public authority may have about making the information available. Further information about exempted information, including a full list of exemptions is available on the Information Commissioner's web pages.
If you would like to request copies of your own personal data held by the University, i.e. all the information the University holds which relates to you, you can do so by making a Subject Access Request.
What if the University does not hold the information?
The Act states that we must release information we hold, but we do not have to produce new information in response to a request. Sometimes, we may produce a summary of what we hold, if this is acceptable to you. We may ask you to wait until the information you require is published. We will not undertake fresh research on a subject in order to respond to a request.
What happens if my request is refused?
Some information held by the University may be exempt from release, such as personal information we hold about other people. Information may be exempt for a number of reasons allowed by the FOI Act and we will make a decision when we receive your request. Often we will have to decide whether it is in the public interest to release information. Our policy is that we should always release information unless there is a very good reason, allowed by the law, not to.
If your request is refused, we will tell you why and identify which exemption we are applying. You will also be given details of how to complain if you are not satisfied with our response. If, after your complaint has been looked at internally, we still refuse your request, you may ask the Information Commissioner to review our decision. For more information please see the complaints policy.
Using the information that you receive/copyright
The publications listed in the publication scheme and many of those provided in response to FOI requests are the copyright of Sheffield Hallam University. Reproduction of material supplied through the publication scheme or in response to a request for information without the express permission of Sheffield Hallam University may be an infringement of copyright. Requests for permission to reproduce such material and further information about copyright obligations should be addressed to:
The University Secretary
Sheffield Hallam University
What is the difference between the Freedom of Information Act 2000, the Data Protection Act 1998, and the Environmental Information Regulations 2004?
The Data Protection Act 1998 is designed to regulate how organisations process information relating to individuals and to ensure that they do so responsibly. The University is registered as a Data Controller and our register entry can be viewed at www.ico.gov.uk. The University has a Data Protection Policy Statement. Individuals are entitled, upon application, to be supplied with copies of all the information held about them together with an explanation of how the information is used (the right of subject access) and to then challenge or correct this information if necessary. This information can only be supplied to the subject of the data and not to any third parties. More information about your rights under the Data Protection Act and making a subject access request is available here.
The Freedom of Information Act 2000 grants the right of access to recorded information that the University holds (in any format) and it can be requested by anyone, regardless of their relationship with the University. Information about third parties may be requested but is exempt from disclosure if releasing it would conflict with data protection obligations.
The Environmental Information Regulations 2004 provide members of the public with the right to access environmental information held by public authorities. Public authorities are generally required to provide this information within 20 working days. Please use the FOI procedures/FOI contact details in order to request environmental information from Sheffield Hallam University.
Further advice on accessing information held by Sheffield Hallam University is available from:
Sheffield Hallam University
Sheffield S1 1WB
Phone 0114 225 3361
Further information about citizens' rights under the Freedom of Information Act, the Data Protection Act, the Environmental Information Regulations and other related legislation is available from:
The Information Commissioner
Information Commissioner's Office
You can call the ICO helpline on 0303 123 1113 or 01625 545745. It's open between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday.
For more information about how to contact the Information Commissioner's Office please see: https://www.ico.org.uk/Global/contact_us
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