Dear Manchester Metropolitan University,

I would like to request copies of last academic years (2015/16) LLB papers, for the avoidance of doubt I would like to request the following papers and their mark schemes/examiners notes if available:
The foundations of legal knowledge, which are:
Public Law (including Constitutional Law, Administrative Law and Human Rights);
Law of the European Union;
Criminal Law;
Obligations (including Contract, Restitution and Tort);
Property Law;
Equity and the Law of Trusts.

I would also like to request copies of last academic years (2015/16) BPTC papers, again including mark schemes and examiners notes if available for the following papers:
Advocacy
Civil Litigation
Evidence and Remedies
Criminal Litigation Evidence and Sentencing
Professional Ethics
Opinion Writing
Drafting
Conference Skills
Resolution of Disputes out of Court

Yours faithfully,

Kyle Stubbs

FOI, Manchester Metropolitan University

Thank you for your email.  
The University aims to respond to all Freedom of Information requests
within 20 working days of receipt.  If this is not possible, we will
contact you within 20 working days to explain why and will provide you
with an alternative response date.
Please note that the 20 working day timescale under the Act starts to run
the following working day after the date the request is received.
Regards
[Manchester Metropolitan University request email] 
"Before acting on this email or opening any attachments you should read
the Manchester Metropolitan University email disclaimer available on its
website http://www.mmu.ac.uk/emaildisclaimer "

FOI, Manchester Metropolitan University

Dear Mr Stubbs

The University can advise that some of the information you have requested is not held by the University. In respect of the BPTC course, the CEB assessments are property of the Bar Standards Board (BSB) and the University does not hold them. You should therefore contact the Bar Standards Board in respect of:
- Civil Litigation and Remedies
- Criminal Litigation and Evidence
- Professional Ethics
Note also that Evidence and Remedies are encompassed within the Civil and Criminal papers referred to above.

In respect of University data, we are not yet in a position to respond. The University is currently considering the s36 exemption in relation to your request. Although we had hoped to respond by the usual 20 working day deadline (today), we require some additional time to fully consider the public interest test in accordance with the Act. The Freedom of Information Act 2000 permits a further 20 working days for consideration of the public interest test, although it is unlikely to take 20 days in this case. We would like to assure you that we will respond as soon as possible and hope to be able to provide you with a final response on/before 23rd June.

Many thanks for your patience.

FOI & DPA Officer
Legal Services|The Manchester Metropolitan University | All Saints| Oxford Road | Manchester | M15 6BH
Email: [Manchester Metropolitan University request email]
Web Page: http://www.mmu.ac.uk

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Dear FOI,

Hi,

Could you please explain to me how S.36 applies to this request, I'm slightly confused but it's probably just me being dense! 36(2)[a] and [b] don't seem to apply, unless the university thinks that [c] applies?

Yours sincerely,

Kyle Stubbs

FOI, Manchester Metropolitan University

Dear Mr Stubbs

 

The University has now had the opportunity to fully consider the s36
exemption, including the public interest test, details of this are
provided below:

 

Section 36(2)(c) of the FOIA states that information is exempt if, in the
reasonable opinion of a qualified person, disclosure of the information
would, or would be likely to, prejudice the effective conduct of public
affairs. The qualified person for the University is the Vice Chancellor,
who has considered the exemption and the public interest test and, in his
opinion, the exemption is engaged and the factors in favour of withholding
the data outweigh the factors in favour of releasing the data as being in
the greater public interest.

 

In relation to the University, the ‘prejudice to the effective conduct of
public affairs’ means a likelihood of harm to the University’s ability to
operate or to perform or fulfil its core/essential services.  In this
case, the prejudice relates to the University’s core process of providing
high quality education and examination.  The risks to this process are set
out below:

 

In respect of University held & owned data (our earlier response below
dealt with the issue of data held and owned by the Bar Standards Board),
although some past examination papers and questions are distributed to
students this does not apply to all and they are not openly published or
freely available in the public domain.  Where students are provided with
past questions/papers, this is managed in a controlled way which balances
the need to provide students with the support and information they need
against the need to preserve a secure bank of questions for future reuse. 
Unrestricted release into the wider public domain is likely to result in
the loss of ability to re-use good questions.  Publication of all
questions would allow students to target and narrow their revision to the
detriment of the standard of the quality and scope of education in this
area.  This risk is exacerbated in certain subjects where there are a
limited number of questions that can be asked, and release of these would
cause serious problems even without the answers.   Disclosure would be
likely to prejudice the effective operation of the University’s examiners
in preparing the most robust and effective guidelines for marking exam
papers; and prejudice the actions and efforts of students, who may try and
adapt their answers to marking guidelines developed at examiner level for
examiners, resulting in mistakes in comprehension and lower attainment
scores.  There is also a potential risk of unfair advantages in some
cases; a risk of use on illicit sites offering to write answers for
students to purchase work; and a further risk of harm to the University’s
commercial interests should the information be freely available to
competitors. 

 

The University has considered this request on an individual case basis;
the University does not necessarily take the view that this exemption will
always apply to all examinations materials and recognises that there may
be circumstances in which it is possible to release some examination
materials into the public domain.  In this case, the University considers
that an uncontrolled release of the data you have requested would be
harmful.  Of particular relevance in this case is the need to uphold the
high standard of examination in a highly competitive environment; and that
these examination standards must also meet the requirements of external
professional bodies such as the Solicitors Regulation Authority and Bar
Standards Board.

 

Consideration of the Public Interest Test included the following:

 

Factors in favour of disclosure: The University recognises there is a
general public interest in disclosure of information, as this increases
accountability and transparency; in this case the information may enable
the public and students to gain a greater understanding of the testing and
standards required to qualify as a solicitor or a barrister. However, the
University already provides students with study tools including sample
questions and examination materials, to assist their understanding of the
examinations and types of questions that may be asked.  Students are,
therefore, well informed about what is required from them and the
structure and nature of the relevant examinations.  The University also
has functions in place dedicated to ensuring the maintenance of academic
standards and promotion of quality enhancement and much of this
information is published on the University website.  For more information
about this, see the following link as your starting point:
[1]https://www.mmu.ac.uk/academic/casqe/

 

Factors in favour of withholding the information: The University considers
that the disclosure of information would prejudice the effectiveness of
the examination process in the current and subsequent years, as it will
limit the available number of questions that can be used on future
examinations.  If the University is unable to set examinations without
using questions or materials which are already publicly available, it will
not be adequately able to test the broad knowledge and understanding of
students as they will be able to revise specific areas based on the
questions which have been made publicly available. Exams are not designed
to test only the ability to memorise answers and, if the University is
unable to set examinations which test the full knowledge and understanding
of students, this is likely to have a detrimental effect on the standard
of students passing the course and the quality of graduates entering the
legal profession.

 

If you are unhappy with the service you have received in relation to your
request and wish to make a complaint or request a review of this decision,
you should write to Head of Legal Department, All Saints Building,
Manchester, M15 6BH, or at [2][email address].  If you are not content
with the outcome of your complaint, you may apply directly to the
Information Commissioner for a decision.  Generally, the ICO cannot make a
decision unless you have exhausted the complaints procedure provided by
the Legal Department.  The Information Commissioner can be contacted at:
The Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane,
Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AF.

 

FOI & DPA Officer

Legal Services|The Manchester Metropolitan University | All Saints| Oxford
Road | Manchester | M15 6BH

Email: [3][Manchester Metropolitan University request email]

Web Page: [4]http://www.mmu.ac.uk

 

 

 

 

 

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Dear FOI,

Thank you very much for such a comprehensive response to my FOI request; having read all of the issues quoted in your response I now understand the universities position much clearer. I'm honesty, i hadn't considered any of the additional impacts of releasing an exam paper, as it is a fairly common thing at lower levels of education (e.g A Levels and GCSE's).

I thank you for your time in reading, considering and replying to my request,

Yours sincerely,

Kyle Stubbs

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