Archive for FOI

Tories accused of academic witch hunt

Posted in Legal issues with tags , on 13 February 2011 by Steve

“Two University of Ottawa professors, vocal critics of the federal Conservative government, say they have become targets of a new political intimidation tactic aimed at using their private, personal information against them …” (more)

[Susan Delacourt and Bruce Campion-Smith, University World News, 13 February]

Private fund used to build UL chief’s €2m home

Posted in Governance and administration with tags , , on 28 May 2010 by Steve

“A controversial new residence built for a university president cost more than €2m but was financed totally through private funds, a report has revealed. Details of the construction costs of the luxury house for University of Limerick (UL) president Prof Don Barry were revealed following a Freedom of Information request to the Department of Education …” (more)

[Gordon Deegan and Fergus Black, Independent, 28 May]

€22m cost of colleges’ pension gift

Posted in Legal issues with tags , on 18 April 2010 by Steve

“Professors and senior staff at Irish universities are being gifted ‘free’ pension years at a cost of tens of millions of euros each year to the taxpayer. Despite a directive from the Department of Finance last year to cut back on all discretionary payments to staff, five universities have given 748 free pension years to 200 retiring employees …” (more)

[Sarah McInerney, Sunday Times, 18 April]

University told to hand over tree ring data

Posted in Legal issues with tags , , on 16 April 2010 by Steve

“Queen’s University in Belfast has been told by the Information Commissioner to hand over 40 years of research data on tree rings, used for climate research …” (more)

[BBC News, 15 April]

UEA mishandled ‘Climategate’ Freedom of Information requests, say MPs

Posted in Legal issues with tags , on 31 March 2010 by Steve

“The University of East Anglia bears ‘much of the responsibility’ for the mishandling of Freedom of Information requests in relation to the so-called ‘Climategate’ email scandal, a cross-party panel of MPs has ruled …” (more)

[Zoë Corbyn, Times Higher Education, 31 March]

Freedom of Information Requests to UK Universities

Posted in Legal issues with tags , on 8 March 2010 by Steve

“Worried your university might be spending too much time on core business of teaching and research? Concerned that government funding and student fees are being invested in academic staff and student facilities? Then make sure universities waste time, effort and public money by arranging for your institution to be sent lots of distracting Freedom of Information requests about matters of little consequence …” (more)

[Registrarism, 8 March]

Universities paid IBEC almost €900,000 in fees

Posted in Governance and administration with tags , on 5 February 2010 by Steve

“The seven universities have paid close to €900,000 in fees to employers’ group IBEC over the past four years. Documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show the universities paid fees totalling €244, 770 in 2008. Total fees paid by the university sector were €184,000 in 2005, €214,000 in 2006 and €230,000 in 2007 …” (more)

[Sean Flynn, Irish Times, 5 February]

Scientists in stolen e-mail scandal hid climate data

Posted in Legal issues with tags , , on 28 January 2010 by Steve

“The university at the centre of the climate change row over stolen e-mails broke the law by refusing to hand over its raw data for public scrutiny. The University of East Anglia breached the Freedom of Information Act by refusing to comply with requests for data concerning claims by its scientists that man-made emissions were causing global warming …” (more)

[Ben Webster and Jonathan Leake, Times, 28 January]

College has no records of how the commencement fee is calculated

Posted in Legal issues with tags , , on 21 January 2010 by Steve

“Trinity College says that it has no records of how the commencement fee was calculated. In response to a Freedom of Information request submitted by The University Times asking the College to provide ‘records relating to the calculation of the commencement fee’ the College said that it was unable to provide these records because ‘such records do not exist’ …” (more)

[Robert Donohoe, University Times, 20 January]

Education ministers’ globetrotting bill is €65,000 for two years

Posted in Governance and administration with tags , , on 2 December 2009 by Steve

“More than €65,000 in foreign travel costs have been racked up by two ministers for education since the last general election, new figures reveal. The costs run up by current incumbent Batt O’Keeffe and his predecessor Mary Hanafin include over €15,000 on chauffeur hire and almost €3,000 on VIP airport lounges …” (more)

[Shane Phelan, Independent, 2 December]

Student loses court battle over test papers

Posted in Legal issues with tags , , on 24 June 2009 by Steve

Ireland“A medical student has lost his High Court challenge to a refusal by the Freedom of Information Commissioner to release copies of his exam papers which he claimed would show he performed better than his mark. Michael Kruse, a fourth-year UCD student, brought proceedings claiming Information Commissioner Emily O’Reilly had erred in law by refusing to release the papers …” (more)

[Independent, 24 June]

FOI case could set precedent for universities

Posted in Legal issues with tags , on 30 April 2009 by Steve

UK“Teaching materials used on a BSc degree in homoeopathy must be released to a campaigner against ‘pseudo-scientific’ courses, the Information Commissioner has ruled. The ruling will force the University of Central Lancashire to submit to requests made under the Freedom of Information Act by David Colquhoun, professor of pharmacology at University College London, and could set a precedent for the sector. Professor Colquhoun, who is well known for a blog he writes attacking what he sees as phoney science, first submitted requests for the material to UCLAN in July 2006. The university refused to comply on the grounds that the material was commercially confidential and could be reasonably accessed by other means – namely, by enrolling on the course …” (more)

[Zoë Corbyn, Times Higher Education, 30 April]

FOI and Universities

Posted in Legal issues with tags , , on 15 April 2009 by Steve

UK“A very interesting decision (download it here) by the UK Information Commissioner has been published. A request was made to the University of Central Lancashire for various things, including copies of course material (course notes, PowerPoint presentations, list of recommended textbooks, etc) circulated to students on the BSc in Homeopathy. This course is quite well known due to controversy surrounding the academic/scientific standards in ‘alternative medicine’ courses in higher education, and was closed to new students last year. Ben Goldacre at has followed these stories for quite some time – I’d imagine the FOI request is inspired by or related to the criticism of the UCLAN and other degrees …” (more)

[Daithí Mac Sithigh, Lex Ferenda, 15 April]

Order to release animal test data

Posted in Legal issues, research with tags , , , on 9 April 2009 by Steve

UK“Several universities and major colleges have been ordered to reveal information about their animal experiments by the Information Commissioner’s Office. The ruling applies to past and current research at Oxford, Cambridge and Manchester universities, plus London’s King’s and University colleges. All five must release details of the numbers and species of primates used. The British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection had asked for the details under the Freedom of Information Act …” (more)

[BBC News, 9 April]

Stitch up part two

Posted in Governance and administration with tags , , , on 7 March 2009 by Steve

“The UCD+TCD saga continues with a report in today’s Irish Times discussing the reaction to the news and hinting at possible delays in any merger. However, given that the head of Trinity is on the review team looking at the future of Irish HE, there are surely some serious questions regarding conflict of interest and inequity in the whole approach. Further, I wonder, seriously whether the other institutions would be bold enough to demand minutes of any meetings that have taken place with government departments, UCD and TCD under the FOI …” (more)

[Summa cum laude, 7 March]

Bad and mad: the FOI requests undermining our independence

Posted in Legal issues with tags , on 12 September 2008 by Steve

“Universities are communities that love finding answers to questions. Those answers may save lives, help a business, overthrow a paradigm, or they can simply be interesting and inspiring. Although that is what they were created and funded to explore, we now live in an age where this is not enough. Now there is a law that obliges universities to address even more questions. But what more could our legislators want universities to answer? What powerful but supposedly neglected questions could there be that require the law itself to bend university resources to the task of answering them? Welcome to the strange world of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act request …” (more)

[Jon Baldwin, Times Higher Education, 11 September]

University of Melbourne exam ‘secrets’ come out in court

Posted in Legal issues with tags , , on 3 September 2008 by Steve

“Universities hoping to keep past exam materials secret by invoking the public interest have been warned they will usually lose in court. Legal academic Jim Jackson said he was surprised to see the University of Melbourne resist the release of exam marking guides all the way to Victoria’s Supreme Court, which rejected Melbourne’s appeal last week …” (more)

[Bernard Lane, Australian Higher Education, 3 September]