Dear Heriot-Watt University,
Please provide me with information on the following:
1. For each of the past ten academic years (2008-09 to 2018-19), how many Herriot-Watt students have died while a student at the university?
2. Please provide, if possible, a breakdown by gender for each year.
3. For each of the past ten academic years (2008-09 to 2018-19), how many Herriot-Watt students have committed suicide while a student at the university?
4. The university’s rationale behind choosing to record or not to record student suicides.
5. University policy regarding all actions the university take after a student commits suicide
Thank you for your information request dated the 17^th June 2019 regarding
student deaths. Your request has been handled under Scottish legislation:
the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA). Apologies for the
short delay in providing you with a response which has been caused a high
level of information governance Acts related casework. We hope this has
not inconvenienced you.
We are afraid we do not hold records going back to 2008-2009. This
complies with our retention schedules which you can view on our website.
Data for the academic years 2011-12 to 2008-2009 is not held and is
therefore exempt from release under Section 17 of FOISA.
In response to your Qs1-2, please see the table below. The number of
students who passed away whilst enrolled at the University. Please note
that this does not mean that they passed away whilst studying at, or
residing in, the halls of residence located at our Scottish campuses. The
figures are very low and so we are presenting them in a format that
complies with the General Data Protection Regulations, the UK Data
Protection Act 2018 and the UK Information Commissioner’s guidance on
| year | |
|2012-13 | 6 |
|2013-14 | <5 |
|2014-15 | <5 |
|2015-16 | 5 |
|2016-17 | <5 |
|2017-18 | 6 |
|2018-19 | <5 |
In response to your Qs3-4, We do not record student suicides as such. On
occasion where we have been informed of a student suicide, this has been
on a strictly confidential basis and not expected to be released to third
parties. This will have been recorded as a ‘student death’. As you may
appreciate, this is a very sensitive area and we consider that the release
of this type of personal data is exempt from disclosure as it risks the
potential identification of individual deceased students. As such, the
disclosure of this personal data to a third party or publishing such data
on a public website would impact significantly on the immediate family
and relatives, thereby breaching their privacy and causing them
substantial damage and distress. We therefore consider this information
exempt under Section 38(1)(b) of the Act: Personal data.
In response to Q5, please the enclosed. Further information about the
support available in these circumstances can be found on the Student
Wellbeing pages on our website.
We hope you find this information useful.
Your right to seek review of our decision
If you are not satisfied with our response or our reasoning set-out above,
you have forty working days from today in which to request a review of our
decision. Any request should be put in writing and should be sent to Ann
Jones, Head of Information Governance, at the address detailed at the
bottom of this email. The request should:
(a) detail your request for a review of our decision to be undertaken;
(b) describe the nature of your original request; and
(c) explain the reasons why you are dissatisfied with our response.
If you remain dissatisfied with how your request for information has been
dealt with, you also have the right to apply to the Scottish Information
Commissioner for a decision as to whether we have handled your request
Information relating to your right to seek review is available from the
Scottish Information Commissioner's web page at:
or by contacting the Scottish Information Commissioner's Office at the
Scottish Information Commissioner,
Fife KY16 9DS
Telephone: 01334 464610
Fax: 01334 464611
E-mail: [email address]
Finally, should you wish to discuss the contents of this email, please do
not hesitate to contact me.
Governance and Legal Services
Edinburgh EH14 4AS
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