Number of Masters Applications to University of Nottingham

Charlotte Rawlings made this Freedom of Information request to University of Nottingham

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Charlotte Rawlings

Dear University of Nottingham,

I am writing to you under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 to request the following information:

I would be grateful if you could tell me the number of Masters degree applications (this isn't ones that have been accepted, just the number of applications in total) you have received for all of your Masters courses, for the following time frames:

For the upcoming 2021 academic year, so far, from when applications opened in 2020.
For the 2020 academic year from when applications opened in 2019.
For the 2019 academic year from when applications opened in 2018.

It would be great if you could provide this information in an Excel spreadsheet broken down in monthly categories ie January 2020 received xxxx applications, if this is at all possible.

If you need any clarification then please do not hesitate to contact me. Under Section 16 it is your duty to provide advice and assistance and so I would expect you to contact me if you find this request unmanageable in any way.

If you can identify any ways that my request could be refined I would be grateful for any further advice and assistance.

Thank you for your time and I look forward to your response.

Yours faithfully,

Charlotte Rawlings

Br-Freedom-Of-Information, University of Nottingham

Dear Charlotte

Thank you for your request for information regarding Masters degree applications. Your request was received on 7 January 2021 and is being dealt with under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act 2000. The reference number of your request is 5047.

We will aim to respond to your request within twenty working days. Please note this is calculated from the following working day from receipt of your request.

Please be aware that due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and following Government advice, the University is moving to online teaching and staff are working remotely, this may mean that access to some information held locally or on certain systems may not be readily available at this time.

Where it becomes clear that the information you have requested is not available due to the current situation, we will of course write to you and advise you of this.

I hope that this is of help. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any enquiries regarding this email.

Yours sincerely,
Karen Page

Information Compliance Officer – Freedom of Information
Registrar’s Department

Web: www.nottingham.ac.uk/freedom-of-informat...
Email: [University of Nottingham request email]

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Br-Freedom-Of-Information, University of Nottingham

2 Attachments

Dear Charlotte

I am writing further to your request for information regarding Postgraduate Taught (PGT) applications. A search of our electronic and paper records has been completed and I can confirm that the information requested is held by the University.

In response to your request:

I would be grateful if you could tell me the number of Masters degree applications (this isn't ones that have been accepted, just the number of applications in total) you have received for all of your Masters courses, for the following time frames:

For the upcoming 2021 academic year, so far, from when applications opened in 2020.
For the 2020 academic year from when applications opened in 2019.
For the 2019 academic year from when applications opened in 2018.

It would be great if you could provide this information in an Excel spreadsheet broken down in monthly categories ie January 2020 received xxxx applications, if this is at all possible.

Attached is the information we hold in relation to PGT applications for the 2019 entry year.

Where figures are less than 5 we do not specify the exact number as to do so would greatly increase the likelihood of individuals being identified, which would breach data protection regulations as these individuals have a reasonable expectation that their personal data will not be released.

We recognise that from the information provided here alone, it would be difficult to identify the individuals concerned. Nevertheless, under the remits of data protection regulations, we note that personal data constitutes that from which the Data Controller can identify an individual. Therefore there may be other information which you could obtain from the University, either through further Freedom of Information requests or other means, that could be used to identify the individuals here. The risk of this is greatly increased where numbers are less than 5 and it is for this reason that we do not specify such small numbers of individuals. Should an individual be identified then the University would be in breach of data protection regulations.

We consider the information you have asked for in relation to PGT applications for the 2020 entry year is exempt under Section 43 of the FOIA 2000, Commercial Interests, as we believe that disclosure would harm the commercial interests of the University of Nottingham as the process is still ongoing. The 2020 entry year encompasses courses which start anytime between August 2020 and July 2021 so there are some PGT courses with start dates which have not yet passed. We are unable to provide information for the 2021 entry year as the application process has not yet started.

The University of Nottingham is operating in a highly competitive environment and in very challenging times. Regulatory changes in recent years, such as the lifting of the cap on university places in England, have increased competition between institutions. Universities all seek to recruit the best students from a limited pool of prospective UK and international applicants.

The University must be able to participate freely and competitively in all its commercial activities, and must protect its business activities. As student recruitment is the core of our business, this can be considered under both:

* Section 43(1) provides an exemption under FOIA for information which is a trade secret.

* Section 43(2) exempts information whose disclosure would, or would be likely to, prejudice the commercial interests of any person (an individual, a company, the public authority itself or any other legal entity).

Responses to Freedom of Information requests are in the public domain and the disclosure of the requested information would be strategically useful to our competitors in the higher education sector in understanding the University's processes, and your request needs to be considered in the context of disclosure under competition legislation as well as under the Freedom of Information Act.

Releasing information for the current on-going application process will have a serious detrimental effect on University operations, giving both applicants and our competitors an unfair advantage of the application and interview processes and will potentially jeopardise future applications.

Having considered the public interest factors for and against disclosure, we feel that the general public interest is in favour of withholding the requested information.

We therefore conclude that this email acts as a refusal notice for this part of your request.

If you are unhappy with the way in which your request has been handled and wish to request a review of our response or to make a complaint, please see the attached information sheet and form.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any enquiries regarding this email.

Yours sincerely,
Karen Page

Information Compliance Officer - Freedom of Information
Registrar's Department

Web: www.nottingham.ac.uk/freedom-of-informat...
Email: [email address]

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