Student discipline

Steve Elibank made this Freedom of Information request to University of Sussex

This request has been closed to new correspondence. Contact us if you think it should be reopened.

The request was refused by University of Sussex.

Dear University of Sussex,

Please provide me with a copy of all minutes of all Student Disciplinary Panel and Student Disciplinary Appeals Board meetings held since September 1st 2009. I understand that these may contain some personal data, and I would expect this to be redacted, rather than this request refused hook, line and sinker.

Yours faithfully,
Steve Elibank

James Knapton, University of Sussex

Dear Mr Elibank,

Thank you for your below email requesting information about the
University's Student Disciplinary Panel and Student Disciplinary Appeals
Board meetings.

Your request is being dealt with under the terms of the Freedom of
Information Act 2000 and will be answered within twenty working days
following the date of receipt, i.e. by 15 November 2010.

Yours sincerely,

James Knapton.

--On 18 October 2010 20:24 +0100 Steve Elibank
<[FOI #49658 email]> wrote:

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James Knapton, University of Sussex

Dear Mr Elibank,

I write following your request dated 18 October 2010 (below) under the
Freedom of Information Act 2000 for information about the University's
Student Disciplinary Panel and Student Disciplinary Appeals Board meetings.

While the information requested is held by the University, your request is
refused under sections 40 and 41 of the Freedom of Information Act.

The minutes of such meetings contain the personal data of a number of
individuals, such as the students, witnesses, accompanying advisors and
panel members. The University considers that to release this information
would contravene the first data protection principle in the Data Protection
Act 1998 because it would be unfair to those individuals to release their
personal data to a third party enquirer. Because this principle would be
so clearly contravened, the information is withheld under section
40(3)(a)(i) of the Freedom of Information Act. As this is an absolute
exemption under the Act, the University has not considered the public
interest test in this case.

Furthermore, the University conducts the proceedings of Student
Disciplinary Panels and Student Disciplinary Appeals Boards under an
explicit guarantee of confidentiality to all parties concerned. The
University asserts that the statements from students and witnesses made at
these meetings are obtained from third parties and that to disclose this
information to the public would constitute an actionable breach of
confidence. The University considers that information held within the
minutes of these Panels and Boards is given in circumstances of confidence
and furthermore has the necessary quality of confidence to enable the
engagement of section 41(1) of the Freedom of Information Act and therefore
the information requested is withheld under this section as well. Section
41 confers an absolute exemption under the Act and therefore the University
has not considered the public interest test in this case. The University
nonetheless acknowledges that in the common law of confidence there may be
circumstances where there is an overriding public interest in the
information to the extent that the duty of confidence may be superseded.
However, no such public interest can be attached to these cases which
involve (as can be seen from the anonymised summary provided below) a
series of relatively minor offences which all took place on campus and
solely involved University staff and students.

The University has given due consideration to the redaction of the minutes
so as to remove any personal data from them. However the minutes of such
meetings by their very nature include at all times the personal data of
multiple and interrelated parties and it would be impossible to produce a
meaningful redacted version.

The above refusal notwithstanding, the University is prepared in a spirit
of openness to provide summary information on the Student Disciplinary
Panel and Student Disciplinary Appeals Board meetings that have taken place
since 1 September 2009.

There have been 3 Student Disciplinary Panels as follows:
1. 18 May 2010. Occupation of University property. 6 students. Penalties
imposed: fines of between GBP 150 and GBP 300.
2. 7 July 2010. Inappropriate behaviour towards a member of staff. 1
student. Penalty imposed: formal reprimand by a Pro-Vice-Chancellor
(further penalties were suspended following the student's departure).
3. 9 July 2010. Appearance in University Licensed Premises contrary to a
ban. 1 student. Penalty imposed: fine of GBP 100.

There have been no Student Disciplinary Appeals Boards in the period.

If you are not satisfied with the University's response to your request,
you may ask the University to review it. If you wish to do this, please
write to me in the first instance. Full details of our FOI complaints
procedure, including details of how to complain to the Information
Commissioner, are at:

<http://www.sussex.ac.uk/records/FOIcompl...>

Yours sincerely,

James Knapton.

--On 18 October 2010 20:24 +0100 Steve Elibank
<[FOI #49658 email]> wrote:

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