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Freedom of Information

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) contains a general right of access to information held by public bodies including the University of Warwick. It also sets out exemptions from that right.

The FOIA is intended to promote a culture of openness and accountability amongst public bodies and to facilitate better public understanding of how public bodies carry out their duties.

The Environmental Information Regulations 2005 (EIR) contain an analogous right of access to environmental information. We deal with requests to access information made under FOIA and EIR in broadly the same way.

FOIA does not include a right to request access to your own personal data. To make such a request, please see our data protection pages.

What information is already available?

We have adopted a Publication Scheme that has been approved by the Information Commissioner and that follows the standard format used by universities in the United Kingdom.

The Publication Scheme sets out details of classes of information that we will routinely make available, how the information will be published, how the information can be obtained and whether any charge will be made for this information.

We also publish proactively information in response to frequently made requests.

How do I request access to information?

If the information that you require is not already available on our website, please direct your request by email to infocompliance@warwick.ac.uk or by post to:

Legal and Compliance Services
University House
University of Warwick
Coventry
CV4 8UW

Please note that requests can only be made by telephone if they relate to environmental information. We will respond to your request by email unless you tell us otherwise.

You should include your name and a contact postal or email address in your request. Please note that we do not accept anonymous requests or requests from pseudonyms. We may request proof of identity if we suspect that you are using a false name.

Please make your request as clear and concise as possible. You are not required to provide a reason for your request, however it may provide helpful context to enable us to understand your request.

How much does it cost to make a request?

It is normally free to make a request, however we may charge a fee if the requested information is particularly difficult to extract or if we agree to provide the information in a particular format, to translate the information into another language, to provide photocopies, etc..

In such circumstances, we will charge VAT if the requested information is not held by other organisations that are not public bodies.

We will always notify you in advance of incurring any costs.

How will Warwick handle my request?

Everybody is entitled to make a request to access information; requests can be made by staff, students, researchers, journalists, political campaigners, commercial organisations, local residents, and anybody else. Requests can be made by people based in the United Kingdom and overseas.

Access to information in response to a request will be treated as disclosure of that information to the world-at-large. All requestors will receive equal treatment.

We may request clarification from you if there is any part of your request on which we are uncertain. If we request clarification, we will normally allow 20 working days for you to provide that clarification.

There is no right to access information previously held but which has been deleted (e.g. in accordance with our Information Governance Framework). If you request information which is due to be deleted in accordance with the framework, we will endeavour to not delete it until we have responded to your request. We will never deliberately delete information in response to a request.

There is no obligation on us to generate information which we do not currently hold in recorded form in order to respond to a request. We will endeavour to be helpful in responding to requests; however the right of access to information does not include a general right to have questions answered or to cross-examine our staff.

FOIA and EIR contain rights of access to information, and not access to documents per se. It is often the case that the easiest way to provide information is to supply a copy of the relevant document containing that information. However, sometimes a document will contain other information of a confidential nature; in these circumstances, we will provide only an extract or a partial or redacted document.

If we hold multiple versions of the information requested by you; we will endeavour to provide to you the version of the information applicable at the time of your request.

We may be required to consult somebody else before responding to your request e.g. if the requested information was provided to us by somebody else or if it contains somebody else’s personal data, etc..

How long will it take to receive a response?

We expect to produce a final response to requests within 20 working days of receipt of your request. The response will either provide access to the information, or refuse access to it (in whole or in part) and explain the reasons. Our response may take longer if we need to seek clarification from you. We will endeavour to notify you of any delays.

How should I interpret the information that Warwick has provided in response to my request?

We do not warrant that any information that we provide in response to a request will be accurate or that it will be fit for any particular purpose. Information that we provide in response to a request may be subject to intellectual property rights.

In what circumstances might my request be refused?

This list is not exhaustive. We will typically refuse access to information –

  • not held by the University in recorded form;
  • held by other legal entities e.g. the Students’ Union, the National Archives, etc.;
  • that you have already requested in an identical or substantially similar request;
  • where we have notified you that a fee is payable and we have not received that fee within three months; or
  • in rare circumstances, where we consider a request to be vexatious.

We may also refuse access to information where one or more of the exemptions set out in the legislation applies. The exemptions include, but are not limited to, information which –

  • would take in excess of 18 hours to collate (FOIA section 12);
  • is already publicly available e.g. on our website (FOIA section 21);
  • is intended for future publication (FOIA section 22);
  • would prejudice the prevention or detection of crime if it were disclosed (FOIA section 31);
  • would prejudice the conduct of public affairs if it were disclosed (FOIA section 36);
  • contains yours or somebody else’s personal data (FOIA section 40);
  • is subject to a duty of confidentiality (FOIA section 41);
  • is subject to legal professional privilege (FOIA section 42); or
  • would prejudice somebody’s commercial interests if it were disclosed (FOIA section 43).

In some circumstances, we are required to consider the public interest in determining whether to rely on an exemption.

If we refuse your request, we will set out the reasons for refusal in our response to you. In some circumstances, we may refuse to confirm whether or not we hold information.

If we do not hold the requested information, we may provide you with advice on where you might be able to obtain that information.

If we refuse your request on the basis that it would take in excess of 18 hours to collate the requested information; we may invite you to narrow the scope of your request to bring it within this limit.

The Information Commissioner's Office provides more guidance on when requests may be refused.

What happens if I am unhappy with Warwick’s response?

If you are unhappy with our response to your request, you can request that we conduct a review of that response. Any request for a review should be made within 40 working days of the date of our response by email to infocompliance@warwick.ac.uk. We endeavour to conduct reviews within 20 working days of a request for a review.

If you remain unhappy with our response following our review, you may contact the Information Commissioner’s Office.