Freedom of Information Act 2000
The Freedom of Information Act 2000 provides a statutory right of public access to information held by public authorities in the UK including universities. The overall aim of the legislation is to enhance accountability of public bodies, encourage transparency of action and to protect individual privacy. Institutional compliance is regulated on behalf of Parliament by an independent Information Commissioner.
Queen's University Belfast is subject to the Freedom of Information Act and, as such, is committed to ensuring that information held by the University is made available to the general public whenever it is possible and/or appropriate to do so within its terms.
Requests for Information
Under Freedom of Information, members of the general public are entitled to request, in writing, information that is held by the University and, subject to certain exemptions, to have that information supplied to them within 20 working days. Formal requests for information under the Act should be submitted, using an Access Request Form , to the Information Compliance Unit , which is responsible for responding to all such requests on behalf of the University. Staff in the Information Compliance Unit will liaise with applicants and relevant University departments to ensure that all requests are processed in accordance with the Act. A fee may be charged for this service.
Further information on how to make a formal request to the University under the Freedom of Information Act is available here.
The Freedom of Information Act also obliges the University to produce and maintain a "Publication Scheme" within which details of information routinely released by the University can be made known and made available more readily to the general public. The University's Publication Scheme was first approved by the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) in January 2004 and subsequently published on the University website. The Information Commissioner's current model publication scheme has been adopted and that it is being operated in line with guidance provided for the Higher Education Sector.
Information covered by the University's Publication Scheme can be obtained electronically from the University website or in hard copy, on request, from the Information Compliance Unit. Members of the public who wish to make a formal request to the University under the Freedom of Information Act are advised to consult the Publication Scheme in the first instance for information that is already publicly available.
The University's Scheme can be accessed here.
Exemptions provide discretionary exceptions to the public’s right of access to information held by the University under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act 2000. There are 23 exemptions provided under the Act that are either absolute or conditional in their effect and relate to a wide range of considerations including whether information is already published or due to be published, personal data or whether the release of certain information would prejudice the conduct of public affairs, commercial interests, confidentiality etc. Exemptions under the Act will be applied by the University as and when necessary to ensure the proper conduct of University business.
Click here for an outline list of exemptions provided by the Freedom of Information Act. (PDF file)
For further information on Freedom of Information at Queen's contact:
Michelle Beegan/Derek Weir
Information Compliance Unit
Queen's University Belfast
Tel: 028 9097 2505