Local authority licence.

Emma Kegan made this Freedom of Information request to St Mary's University, Twickenham

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Waiting for an internal review by St Mary's University, Twickenham of their handling of this request.

Dear St Mary's University, Twickenham,

Universities that provide halls of residence must belong to a government approved code or be licensed by the local authority.

Can you please send me a copy of your licence and any relevant documentation or conditions that is attached to your licence.

There are three codes when a university provides halls of residence. Can you please tell me which of the three codes St Mary's University has signed up to?

Yours faithfully,

Emma Kegan

Dear St Mary's University, Twickenham,

Hi can you please reply to my email as this is now late.

Yours faithfully,

Emma Kegan

Dear St Mary's University, Twickenham,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of St Mary's University, Twickenham's handling of my FOI request 'Local authority licence.'.

I have made an FOI complaint.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/l...

Yours faithfully,

Emma Kegan

Freedom of Information, St Mary's University, Twickenham

1 Attachment

Dear Madam

Please see the attached response to your FOI requests

Yours faithfully

Andrew Browning
University Secretary and Head of Governance
Office of the Vice Chancellor
St Mary’s University, Waldegrave Road, TW1 4SX
020 8240 4267
07970 531112
[email address]

Dear St Mary's University, Twickenham,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of St Mary's University, Twickenham's handling of my FOI request 'Local authority licence.'.

In an appeal to refuse me 4 FOIA requests and in response to your letter.

I dispute your claim that my requests are vexatious in their entirety and will set out a response to each of your points of refusal.

1. You have claimed that you have a genuine belief that I am a student at your University and am using a Pseudonym and when you checked your records you could find no student with my name.

In response to this point:
Your claim that I am a student at your University is without merit and completely baseless, if you have any information that I am a student at your University will you please share this information with me and the ICO? The fact is, I am not a student, I am a member of the public who is very upset that your University told students to go home on the 24th March 2020 (via Dave Hartnett's YouTube Video) and closed your gym on the 18th March 2020 because you were told to do so by the government due to the coronavirus pandemic. You've then gone on to charge students up to the 8th of April for their rooms on campus that you told them to vacate and a gym that they couldn't use. It wasn't students fault that there was a pandemic that has swept the world. You claim to have a no detriment policy, I allege that policy is a farce and I also allege it is designed for government ministers and the media in an attempt at a PR exercise to pretend that you've acted fairly and within the law, when in fact your students (I hold a genuine belief to be 598 based on your previous FOI answer) have been saddled with somewhere between £500-£800 each for rooms and a gym you told them not to use. It is very easy for you to claim that I am a student using a pseudonym to attempt to avoid the scrutiny of the FOI act, and this is what this allegation by you simply is because I am not a student of your University and I never have been.

As for your allegation of the use of a pseudonym by me, you have already breached a student's data and sent it to someone else so Steve Carter tells me which has been reported to the ICO I'm told. I wouldn't be comfortable that you have adequate data compliance principles anyway, but that said, I am not a pseudonym and if I was wouldn't you think that a public body would release information under the FOI act as a matter of good practice?

Anyway, If I was a student of your University can you please explain what you were doing checking your records to identify me on your systems?
I presume that if I were a student you would have identified me on your systems and attempted to cause me problems with some sort of misconduct allegation that I would have to challenge through your complaints process which seems to be stacked against students who make complaints. Do you not see why students are frightened of your management who have powerful lawyers? Our team have spoken to many of your students some of who have made complaints and others who have been too frightened because of the repercussions (yes, we are a team because this a University sector problem. The University of West London, as an example, charged accommodation fees up to the 25th April which we will deal with after St Mary's, the task is too vast for an individual person to manage). Perhaps you could explain to the ICO exactly how you passed the unjustified charges for the rooms to a debt collection agency and they refused to act for you in the collection of these debts and passed the alledged debts back to you. The debt collection agency did this because of months of negotiation with the debt collection agency by Steven Carter who I have been speaking with regarding this absurd distortion of the facts by you.

I am aware that Steve Carter has appealed his FOI refusal too, so it seems that you are claiming that everyone is a pseudonym where you don't fancy answering policy questions that cause financial detriment to students, but financially benefit your public body. I find that absurd.

My motivation is that all of your students are treated fairly, compassionately and within the law where applicable, so I dispute that you have any justification to withhold my FOI requests under any FOI exclusion clause, you are a public body where an allegation that a serious problem has been cited and the FOI act is the mechanism to hold to account your public body to ensure that you are acting properly and not financially benefiting yourselves at the expense of students who don't have access to expensive lawyers.

2. You have claimed that I am part of a wider campaign relating to accommodation fees which is being organised by Steven Carter who is using a pseudonym. And Steven Carter is using a Twitter feed to harass members of University staff to make offensive and untrue comments about them and the University.

In response to this point:
I have spoken to Steven Carter extensively since April 2020, while I was angry when I learnt that you had initially charged students for rooms and the gym they couldn't use, I became 'very' angry and 'active' when I saw on his Twitter feed (@Uni-dispute & @Uni-dispute2) that the Department for Education said that it was unacceptable that a University should charge students for rooms that they were told to vacate, this was the start of my decision to become a campaigner against your University to ensure that you act fairly and in the interests of all students. You claim that he has made untrue comments about your University staff and the University itself but you have failed to establish what these untrue comments are. Ergo, I don't buy into this false narrative and hope the ICO don't either, I alleged that this is simply smoke and mirrors attempt by you not to justify your policy of charging students for rooms that you University told them to vacate on the 24th March by YouTube (which you've now made private as scrutiny has been bestowed upon you) and a gym that was closed by law because of a worldwide pandemic.
I think it is commendable that Steven Carter has stood up to you when you passed unjustified student debts to a debt collection agency and he has spent many unpaid months explaining to the debt collection agency that there was no justification to charge students for rooms that your University had charged them for. It is equally commendable that he had a civil and respectable correspondence with the Debt collection agency who agreed with him and handed the alledged debts back to your University to collect yourselves. The world needs more campaigners like Steven Carter's who you have (and are) attempting to discredit because there are many hundreds of thousands of pounds that you will have to refund to students if it is found that you have unfairly or unlawfully charged them for rooms and a gym they couldn't use (because you told them not to use). I know all of this because I have spoken with him extensively.

3. You claim that I have made untrue and disparaging comments about your University in which I accuse you of racism.

In response to this point:
You claim that I have made untrue and disparaging comments about the University and its staff but you have failed to tell me extensively what these untrue and disparaging comments are. Ergo, I suggest that you are attempting to muddy the waters to avoid scrutiny and are using this as a tactic to apply exclusions to my attempts to find information from your public body, thus causing frustration to my legitimate attempts to ensure that students are treated fairly and in compliance with the law.

Did I accuse you of racism or did I point out that the tweet from your personal account might have been insensitive given the current Black Lives Matter campaign and all that is going on with student complaints at your University? The poorest of people come from a BAME background who certainly wouldn't be able to obtain legal advice regarding the allegation that you have charged students for rooms and a gym that they couldn't use?
From your personal account, you Tweeted an extract from Rudyard Kipling's 'IF'. Students at Manchester University painted over Rudyard Kipling's mural and replaced the poem 'IF' by ‘well-known racist’ (as the Guardian write) with Maya Angelou’s Still I Rise.
https://www.theguardian.com/education/20...
So, I dispute that I have ever called you a racist; this is an attempt by you to use spin when the fact is, it was you who tweeted Kipling in a time of the BLM movement and problems with student complaints about your University. I'd also point to the fact and say that is insensitive and you could learn from this as you are a professional working within the public sector and with BAME students. Again, I suggest that you are using a false narrative to avoid scrutiny.

The BBC have a policy and expectation showing what they expect from their employee's - Rudyard Kipling is a controversial subject (especially for young students from BAME backgrounds, as shown at Manchester University ) and given that you work with young students from BAME backgrounds, perhaps there is a lesson to be learnt by us all and a review of St Mary's social media policy, maybe?

Here is yhe BBC's policy on social media use by their employees:
3. If your work requires you to maintain your impartiality, don’t express a personal opinion on matters of public policy, politics, or ‘controversial subjects’.
https://www.bbc.co.uk/editorialguideline...

As for Duncan, he might be my partner of 15 years but I am not responsible for him, so there is no relevance to your assertion. Which brings us back to your earlier point that I am a student at your University. If that was the case, Duncan and I would have been in a relationship since I was 5 years old and he was 8 years old which is absurd.

It's not for me to comment on how many FOI requests that your University receive, but I would make the point that if you had treated your students fairly you might not have the public interest which there is and you might not receive so many FOI requests.

Lastly, I'm sure you'll acknowledge that campaigning against something that is perceived to be unjust and where it is alleged that someone has benefited by many hundreds of thousands of pounds to the detriment of students who are in a hugely disadvantaged position (you have shown this by searching your records for my name to attempt to identify me as a student) is a very unpleasant thing to do for all concerned. There are vast sums of money that you have obtained from students that are being discussed here, which I, Duncan, Steve Carter and others alleged you are not entitled to. How can it ever be pleasant when you fail to explain and justify your policy of why you charged students from less well off backgrounds for rooms and a gym that you told them not to use?
If you are claiming that some people have made disparaging comments about your vice-chairman Dave Hartnett? Well, there is plenty in the printed media and online from a google search that brings into question whether your ex-vice-chairman has the public's interest at the forefront of his mind.

I am appealing to the ICO that these FOI requests are released to me because I claim that they are in the interest of the public as a whole.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/l...

Yours faithfully,

Emma Kegan

Dear Sir
You have ignored my appeal.

I put to you that St Mary's University has gone beyond your lawful remit when charging students for bedrooms that your vice-chairman told them to vacate at the time of the first coronavirus lockdown and you are refusing to answer my FOI requests which will be used when we look to bring legal action against your university on behalf of students for the many hundreds of thousands of pounds that I allege you have overcharged them.

I also allege that your reasoning for ignoring my public interest requests is a further indication that you are attempting to retain the money that you have overcharged students for rooms that you told them to vacate.

Here is a full list of requests of information that I require. I will now forward this complaint to the ICO.

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/user/emma...

Yours sincerely,

Emma Kegan.

Dear Freedom of Information,
I am still waiting for an answer to my requests.

Yours sincerely,

Emma Kegan