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Copies of periodic communications between the Vice-Chancellor and staff

James Murphy made this Freedom of Information request to Bath Spa University

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Dear Bath Spa University,

I am writing to request copies of periodic communications between the Vice-Chancellor of your institution and all staff working at the University. These circulars might be sent by email and/or placed on the university intranet and may be described as Vice Chancellor’s Updates or something similar. Could you please provide all such communications for the last 5 years or as long as you have recorded if this is shorter?

Best wishes,
James Murphy

FOI Officer, Bath Spa University

Dear James,

Thank you for your Freedom of Information request dated 10 September 2019.

Query:

I am writing to request copies of periodic communications between the
Vice-Chancellor of your institution and all staff working at the
University.  These circulars might be sent by email and/or placed on the
university intranet and may be described as Vice Chancellor’s Updates or
something similar.  Could you please provide all such communications for
the last 5 years or as long as you have recorded if this is shorter?

Response:

Bath Spa University does hold copies of periodic communications between
the Vice-Chancellor and all staff working at the University. However,
these communications are not centrally stored in one location. This is
because they are available in a variety of means and may be sent by others
on behalf of the Vice-Chancellor. In order to provide you with this
information, we would have to collate all communications and then extract
the relevant information from them, whilst also considering the
appropriateness of release. Under the Freedom of Information and Data
Protection (Appropriate Limit and Fees) Regulations 2004, a request for
information can be refused where the total cost of locating, collating and
providing you with the information is greater than £450 (equivalent to 18
hours' work). When calculating whether or not a request exceeds the
appropriate limit it is necessary to consider the time it is likely to
take to establish if we hold the information, locate it, retrieve and
extract it.  

To provide the information you have asked for we would need to first
collate all the communications. We estimate there to be in excess of 250
and we have reasonable grounds to believe this would take approximately 6
hours. Following retrieval of this information, we would then need to
extract and review each communication. It is estimated that it will take
approximately 3.5 minutes per communication to do this, which is 875
minutes or 14.5 hours. Therefore, before consideration of the time
required in order to inform appropriateness of release, the total time it
will take to provide you with this information is 20.5 hours, which would
exceed the appropriate limit.

If you narrow the scope of your request, we may be able to provide the
information free of charge because it would cost less than the appropriate
limit to do so. For instance, you may wish to refine your request by being
more specific about what information you particularly wish to obtain. For
example, you may wish to limit the time period or the scope of what the
communications are about. Any reformulated request will be treated as a
fresh FOI request.  

If you would like any further advice or guidance on this, or to discuss
the information that we hold, please do not hesitate to contact me.

If you are unhappy with the service you have received in relation to your
request and wish to ask for a review of the decision, you should write to:
Freedom of Information Officer, Bath Spa University, Newton Park, Newton
St Loe, Bath, BA2 9BN or email to [1][Bath Spa University request email] within 40
working days of receipt of the original decision.  

If you are not satisfied with the outcome of your review, you may apply
directly to the Information Commissioner for a decision. Generally the ICO
cannot make a decision unless you have exhausted the University’s review
procedure. The Information Commissioner can be contacted at:

Information Commissioner’s Office

Wycliffe House

Water Lane

Wilmslow

Cheshire

SK9 5AF

 

Tel: 08456 30 60 60 or 01625 54 57 45

[2]www.ico.gov.uk

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Freedom of Information Officer

Bath Spa University
T: +44 (0)1225 875875
Visit [3]www.bathspa.ac.uk
Join us on: [4]Facebook | [5]Twitter | [6]YouTube | [7]LinkedIn
Newton Park, Bath, BA2 9BN 

Think before you print 

Disclaimer
If you have received this message in error, please notify us and remove it
from your system. Any views or opinions expressed in personal emails are
solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Bath
Spa University. Neither Bath Spa University nor the sender accepts any
responsibility for viruses and it is your responsibility to scan this
email and any attachments for viruses.

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Dear FOI Officer,
Whilst I accept it may take time to collate the information, I cannot see why there would be a need to review the communications sent from the Vice Chancellor to all staff. Can you explain and justify your rationale for the requirement of such a step?

Yours sincerely,

James Murphy

FOI Officer, Bath Spa University

Dear James,

Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) – Outcome of Internal Review

Thank you for your Internal Review request dated September 25 2019
regarding a Freedom of Information request in which you asked the
following:

I am writing to request copies of periodic communications between the
Vice-Chancellor of your institution and all staff working at the
University. These circulars might be sent by email and/or placed on
the university intranet and may be described as Vice Chancellor’s Updates
or something similar.  Could you please provide all such communications
for the last 5 years or as long as you have recorded if this is shorter?

The purpose of an Internal Review is to assess how your Freedom of
Information request was handled in the first instance and to determine
whether the original decision given to you was correct.

I have reassessed your case and after careful consideration I have
concluded that the initial response that was sent to you was compliant
with the requirements of the FOIA. An explanation of my decision follows.

Your original request was submitted on September 10 2019 and the response
was issued on September 25 2019. The response stated that the request was
considered under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA), but the
information requested was refused under the exemption afforded by Section
12 of the Act, which allows a public authority to refuse to deal with a
request where it estimates that it would exceed the appropriate limit to
do so.

It is my opinion that this exemption was correctly engaged as it would
exceed 18 hours to  establish if we hold the information, locate it,
retrieve and extract it.  

In your internal review request you have asked for justification as to why
communications from the Vice-Chancellor to all staff would need to be
reviewed prior to release. My rationale is as follows:

Communications from the Vice-Chancellor to all staff cover a multitude of
topics and are not intended for public consumption due to the nature of
the content. You have requested this information for the previous 5 years.
In this time, Bath Spa University has had three Vice-Chancellors, staff
reorganisations and organisation restructures and significant changes have
occurred within the academic schools. These communications detail
sensitive information about the above. They may also contain information
about the following:

·        ongoing projects, which could be commercially sensitive

·        information about staff, students and other third parties, which
could be considered the personal data of the individual

It should also be noted, that following a review of a sample of the
communications, some specify that they are not for wider circulation.

Therefore, it would be impossible, without reviewing each communication,
to determine whether an exemption would be engaged and if they were
suitable for public consumption. The time take to collate and review this
information would exceed 18 hours and that is why the request was refused.

If Bath Spa University was to process this request, following a review of
the communications, it is likely information from a large proportion would
need to be redacted and applicable exemptions engaged. I appreciate that
the total amount of time that this would take cannot be included in a
Section 12 calculation. However, Section 14 of the Freedom of Information
Act can be engaged when to comply with a request would be burdensome for
the public authority. This would be the case in these circumstances due to
the amount of redactions we would be required and the writing of
sufficient refusal notices for each exemption, some which may also require
application of the public interest test.

Advice and guidance under Section 16 was provided in accordance with the
requirements of the Freedom of Information Act. In particular, you were
advised that you could refine the scope of your request by reducing the
time period you had requested these communications over or by specifying a
particular topic of interest.

Bath Spa University does publish a Vice-Chancellors blog, which can be
found using the following link:
[1]https://www.bathspa.ac.uk/blog/tags/?sea...

If you remain dissatisfied after an internal review decision, you have the
right to apply to the Information Commissioner’s Office. The Commissioner
is an independent regulator who has the power to direct us to respond to
your request differently, if she considers that we have handled it
incorrectly.

You can contact the Information Commissioner’s Office at the following
address:

Information Commissioner’s Office,

Wycliffe House,

Water Lane,

Wilmslow,

Cheshire

SK9 5AF

 

Tel: 08456 30 60 60 or 01625 54 57 45

[2]www.ico.gov.uk

 

Yours sincerely,

Freedom of Information Officer
Bath Spa University
T: +44 (0)1225 875875
Visit [3]www.bathspa.ac.uk
Join us on: [4]Facebook | [5]Twitter | [6]YouTube | [7]LinkedIn
Newton Park, Bath, BA2 9BN 

Think before you print 

Disclaimer
If you have received this message in error, please notify us and remove it
from your system. Any views or opinions expressed in personal emails are
solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Bath
Spa University. Neither Bath Spa University nor the sender accepts any
responsibility for viruses and it is your responsibility to scan this
email and any attachments for viruses.

show quoted sections

We don't know whether the most recent response to this request contains information or not – if you are James Murphy please sign in and let everyone know.