Chemistry past papers

Gwrthodwyd y cais gan University College London.

Dear University College London,

Please could you provide the chemistry past papers sat by undergraduates between 2010 - 2016. If possible, could you also provide the examiner's reports.

Yours faithfully,

R Patel

Finance.FOI Requests, University College London

Thank you for your message.
If you have submitted a Freedom of Information request please accept this
email as acknowledgement that your request has been received. You should
expect a response from us within 20 working days.
Data Protection & FOI
Legal Services
UCL

Finance.FOI Requests, University College London

Dear Mr Patel,

Thank you for your enquiry which we are currently handling under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

I write to advise that UCL are required to conduct a public interest test with regard to your request. This is on account of a qualified exemption being engaged for information you have requested.

The exemption under consideration is Section 36(2)(c) which states:

“Information to which this section applies is exempt information if, in the reasonable opinion of a qualified person, disclosure of the information under this Act—
(c) would otherwise prejudice, or would be likely otherwise to prejudice, the effective conduct of public affairs.”

Public authorities are entitled an additional 20 working days to consider the application of the exemption and we will disclose our full response to you as soon as we are able.

Please let me know if you have any questions with regard to this process in the meantime.

Kind regards,

Mehwish Sultan
Data Protection and Freedom of Information Adviser
University College London
Legal Services, Finance and Business Affairs
Internal address: 6th Floor, 1-19 Torrington Place, London, WC1E 7HB
E: [email address] Data Protection: [email address] FOI: [UCL request email].
Telephone: +44 (0)203 108 7862 (internal 57862)

dangos adrannau a ddyfynnir

Sultan, Mehwish, University College London

Dear Mr Patel,

Further to my below e-mail, we have now completed the compilation of information in response to your request.

We can confirm that we do hold the information of the description specified in your request.

The requested information is exempt from disclosure however, as it is considered that two exemptions apply.

The first exemption is Section 36(2)(c) which states that:

“Information to which this section applies is exempt information if, in the reasonable opinion of a qualified person, disclosure of the information under this Act—
(c) would otherwise prejudice, or would be likely otherwise to prejudice, the effective conduct of public affairs.”

This exemption applies to all past Chemistry examination papers. It is considered that to disclose this information would prejudice the ability of the department to assess a student’s knowledge and learning under exam conditions. Disclosure would also place an unnecessary burden on staff members as they would be required to devise entirely new examination papers.

For this exemption to be engaged, public authorities are required to seek the ‘reasonable opinion’ of the organisations qualified person; in UCL’s instance, this person is the Provost. I can confirm that the Provost has provided the view that disclosure of the information would prejudice the effective conduct of UCL’s affairs.

UCL are also required to conduct a public interest test with regard to the application of this exemption. Please see below for this test in full:

Factors in favour of disclosure:

-There is a general public interest in transparency. The public have a right to know how public authorities are carrying out their core functions, including those of student assessment.
-Disclosure of this information would contribute to a more open and knowledgeable debate concerning the quality of assessment within the department, which may inform prospective students.

Factors against disclosure:

-Certain questions in examination papers may be considered to be particularly effective in testing understanding and learning in relation to a particular topic. If the university was to disclose these questions it may be seen to remove a proven and effective method of testing a student’s abilities. This would negatively affect UCL’s ability to assess and grade students in the most effective manner possible.
-It may also be considered as being disruptive as disclosure would necessitate the preparation of entirely new papers. This would increase the burden on staff within the Department and on the external examiners (who would need to review and approve the new papers).
-Disclosing the past examination papers used over a period of six years may also be seen as being disruptive to the examination process by giving undue prominence to the use of past papers in exam preparation. The prejudice here may be considered to be the negative effect on preparing students for exams in the best manner possible.

Outcome of the public interest test:

-Disclosure of the requested information would prejudice UCL’s ability to properly assess students in the Chemistry department, outweighing the public interest arguments for disclosure. For the reasons given, we are unable to disclose this information to you.

The second exemption is Section 40(2) which states that:

"(2) Any information to which a request for information relates is also exempt information if—

(a) it constitutes personal data which do not fall within subsection (1), and
(b) either the first or the second condition below is satisfied.

(3) The first condition is—

(a) in a case where the information falls within any of paragraphs (a) to (d) of the definition of “data” in section 1(1) of the Data Protection Act 1998, that the disclosure of the information to a member of the public otherwise than under this Act would contravene—

(i) any of the data protection principles, or
(ii) section 10 of that Act (right to prevent processing likely to cause damage or distress), and

(b) in any other case, that the disclosure of the information to a member of the public otherwise than under this Act would contravene any of the data protection principles if the exemptions in section 33A(1) of the Data Protection Act 1998 (which relate to manual data held by public authorities) were disregarded.

(4) The second condition is that by virtue of any provision of Part IV of the Data Protection Act 1998 the information is exempt from section 7(1)(c) of that Act (data subject’s right of access to personal data)."

The examiner’s reports contain individual student marks and comments on their work and as such the reports have been withheld. This information is personal data and has been withheld under section 40(2) of the FOIA by virtue of s40 (3)(a)(i).

Section 40(2) of the FOIA allows a public authority to withhold information from a response to a request under the FOIA when the information requested is personal data relating to someone other than the requestor, and its disclosure would breach any of the data protection principles.

In this case we believe that the disclosure of the information within the reports would not be within their reasonable expectations and as such would be unfair and in breach of the lawfulness, fairness and transparency principle which, requires personal data to be processed fairly and lawfully.

If you are unhappy with our response to your request and wish to make a complaint or request a review of our decision, please email [email address]. Emails should include the words ‘Internal Review’ in the subject and be marked For the Attention of the Vice Provost Operations, alternatively you should write to:

Vice Provost Operations
University College London
1-19 Torrington Place
London WC1E 7HB

Please note, complaints and requests for internal review received more than two months after the initial decision will not be handled.

If you are not content with the outcome of the internal review, you may apply directly to the Information Commissioner at the address given below. You should do this within two months of our final decision.

If you have any queries or concerns, please contact me using the details provided in this letter and including the request reference number.

Further information on the Freedom of Information Act is available from the Information Commissioner’s Office:

Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
SK9 5AF

01625 545700
www.ico.org.uk
[email address]

Kind regards,

Mehwish Sultan
Data Protection and Freedom of Information Adviser University College London Legal Services, Finance and Business Affairs Internal address: 6th Floor, 1-19 Torrington Place, London, WC1E 7HB
E: [email address] Data Protection: [email address] FOI: [UCL request email].
Telephone: +44 (0)203 108 7862 (internal 57862)

dangos adrannau a ddyfynnir