Student and staff data: use of data analytics and machine learning

The request was partially successful.

Dear University of Northampton,

I am making a request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA).

Please can you provide information pertaining to any data analytics software used by the university using personal data about your students and staff, since 2012.

1a). Whether you are using any data analytics software at all:
1b) if so, which ones?
1c) what date this data analytics processing began?
1d) indicate whether in the past and ended, or still in current use

2a). Any predictive analytics software such as used in but not only, Blackboard, Xray and JISC supported Civitas.
2b) if so, which ones?
2c) what date this analytics processing began for predictive purposes?

3. If the answer to Q1a or Q2a is yes, please provide a copy of any contract terms on using the data by the provider company including
a) the data items feedling analytics, any profiling, and/or used in prediction
b) what the prediction purposes / aims are
c) training the software (such as AI and machine learning) by the provider using the data provided via your organisation.

4. Whether the University is using its own student or staff population data for machine learning for purposes not included in 1-3 above? (ie but not only, within the university computing department for any project or with another third-party)

5. From which time periods were the student or staff data collected which are processed in any of the above (ie not only, retrospective student data from the last ten years / only current intake which began in autumn term 2018)?

6. How many people/user accounts have access to the whole population student data in any of the above in this calendar year?

Thank you for your consideration.
Sincerely,

Jen Persson

Maggie Peach, University of Northampton

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[1]https://tundra2.northampton.ac.uk/otcs/l...

 

Ref: RMU/FoI(E20.06)/1482FoIreply28Nov2018

 

28^th November 2018

 

Dear Ms. Persson

 

I am writing in acknowledgement of your request for information dated
28^th November, 2018, which has been received by the University and passed
to me as the University’s Freedom of Information Officer for action.

 

Your request for information has been assigned the number referenced above
and will be treated in accordance with the provisions of the Freedom of
Information Act. Under the provisions of the Act the University has until
28^th December, 2018 to respond to your request. We will, however, try our
best to provide you with an answer before this deadline.

 

Yours Sincerely

 

Maggie Peach

 

ppPhil Oakman

Records Manager

 

 

Maggie Peach

Records Management Officer

 

University of Northampton

Newton

St. George’s Avenue

Northampton

NN2 6JB

 

Tel: 01604 893503

Email: [email address]

 

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Maggie Peach, University of Northampton

1 Attachment

Ref: RMU/FoI(E20.06)/1482/FoIreply20Dec2018

 

20^th December 2018

 

Dear Ms. Persson

 

I write in response to your request for information dated 28^th November,
2018, received by the University and passed to me as the University’s
Freedom of Information Officer for action.

 

In response to your question one:

1a). Whether you are using any data analytics software at all:

Yes the University is using data analytics software

1b) if so, which ones?

1c) what date this data analytics processing began?

Solution Path – a pilot project began in September 2017 and ended in March
2018. A new version of the software is currently in development.

Microsoft Excel – ongoing

Blackboard Learn - ongoing

Google Analytics – since 2010

Google Data Studio – since September 2017

1d) indicate whether in the past and ended, or still in current use

All except Solution Path are in current use

 

In response to your question two:

2a). Any predictive analytics software such as used in but not only,
Blackboard, Xray and JISC supported Civitas.

2b) if so, which ones?

2c) what date this analytics processing began for predictive purposes?

Solution Path will offer a predictive option, however this is still in
development.

 

In response to your question three:

3. If the answer to Q1a or Q2a is yes, please provide a copy of any
contract terms on using the data by the provider company including

a) the data items feedling analytics, any profiling, and/or used in
prediction

The University considers this information  to be exempt under Section
43(2) (the disclosure of information which would, or would be likely to
prejudice the commercial interests of a person or body) and Section 41
(information provided in confidence) of the Freedom of Information Act
2000.

 

When information is released in the form of a response to requests under
the Freedom of Information Act it is actually a release of those details
to the world. By disclosing the information you have requested the
University would not only be potentially prejudicing its own commercial
interests but also those of its supplier(s).

b) what the prediction purposes / aims are

The aim/purpose of the Solution Path project will be to encourage students
to increase their engagement with their academic studies and to support
their achievements and successes. As indicated above this software is not
currently in use. Following a pilot project a new version is under
development.

 

All use of such tools will be thoroughly tested before implementation to
ensure compliance with Data Protection legislation.

c) training the software (such as AI and machine learning) by the provider
using the data provided via your organisation.

NA - the University is not using AI or machine learning software.

 

In response to your question four:

4. Whether the University is using its own student or staff population
data for machine learning for purposes not included in 1-3 above? (ie but
not only, within the university computing department for any project or
with another third-party)

NA - the University is not using AI or machine learning software.

 

In response to your question five:

5. From which time periods were the student or staff data collected which
are processed in any of the above (ie not only, retrospective student data
from the last ten years / only current intake which began in autumn term
2018)?

NA - the University is not using AI or machine learning software.

 

In response to your question six:

6. How many people/user accounts have access to the whole population
student data in any of the above in this calendar year?

The information you have requested is not held by the University in a way
that makes it accessible and it is therefore exempt under section 12
(would exceed the appropriate limit) of the Freedom of Information Act
2000 as set out in Statutory Instrument 2004 NO 3244 “The Freedom of
Information and Data Protection (Appropriate Limit and Fees) Regulations
2004”.

 

While records are kept of those who have access to University software,
these records are held by the individual Faculties and Departments
responsible for the various items of software.

                                                                                          

To locate, retrieve and extract the information you have requested from
each area will take far in excess of two and a half days.

 

I hope the University has made its response in a clear and constructive
manner; however, if you consider the University has handled your request
unfairly you are entitled to follow the process set out in our standard
advice on the University's Freedom of Information Complaints Procedure
which is available online at:

[1]University FoI complaints procedure

 

 

Yours sincerely

 

Maggie Peach

 

ppPhil Oakman

Records Manager

 

Maggie Peach

Records Management Officer

 

University of Northampton

Newton

St George’s Avenue

Northampton

NN2 6JB

 

telephone : 01604 893503

email : [2][email address]

 

[3]https://tundra2.northampton.ac.uk/otcs/l...

 

 

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