Use of the LNAT - 2016/2017 and 2017/2018 admissions cycle

John Dimitroulopoulos made this Freedom of Information request to Durham University

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

The request was partially successful.

John Dimitroulopoulos

Dear Durham University,

I submit this new request in response to my partially refused 9th July 2019 request, where LNAT data for the current (2018-19) admissions cycle was denied under s.43 FOIA 2000, on the basis that it would jeopardise the commercial interests of the university.

I am thus requesting data for the previous two admissions cycles, to which this exemption - going off how your previous response was framed - cannot apply.

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My request is as follows:

This request refers to all of Durham University's undergraduate law courses (i.e. for both the M100 course and any other law-related courses with an M1xx course code).

This requests refers to students who were successful in obtaining an offer from one of these courses in the 2016/2017 and 2017/2018 admissions cycles.

Please provide:

A. A full list of the scores achieved by offer holders in the multiple choice section of the LNAT for the 2016/2017 and 2017/2018 admissions cycles. Please provide the data for the two admissions cycles separately.

B. A list of the essay marks/scores awarded to offerholders by the Durham admissions team during the 2016/2017 and 2017/2018 admissions cycles. Please provide the data for the two admissions cycles separately.

I trust that this request will be more successful than the previous. Do let me know if any aspect of it is unclear.

Yours faithfully,

John Dimitroulopoulos

ACCESS I., Durham University

Dear Mr Dimitroulopoulos

Freedom of Information Request

I acknowledge receipt of your email below requesting information from Durham University.

Please be advised that the University will respond as soon as possible and in any event within 20 working days.

Yours sincerely,

Information Governance Unit
Durham University

Information Governance Unit, University Secretary’s Office
t: +44 (0) 191 334 6103/46246  e: [Durham University request email]

CONFIDENTIALITY NOTICE:
This message is intended solely for the addressee(s) in the first instance and may contain confidential information. If you are not the intended recipient, please notify the sender, delete the message from your system immediately and do not disclose the contents to any other party.

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ACCESS I., Durham University

Dear Mr Dimitroulopoulos

 

Thank you for your request for information from Durham University. 
Colleagues have provided the information below in response to your
questions.

 

This request refers to all of Durham University's undergraduate law
courses (i.e. for both the M100 course and any other law-related courses
with an M1xx course code).

 

This requests refers to students who were successful in obtaining an offer
from one of these courses in the 2016/2017 and 2017/2018 admissions
cycles.

 

Please provide:

 

A. A full list of the scores achieved by offer holders in the multiple
choice section of the LNAT for the 2016/2017 and 2017/2018 admissions
cycles. Please provide the data for the two admissions cycles separately.

The information you have requested, while held by the University, is
refused under section 12(1) of the Act. You have requested statistical
information that cannot be sourced easily from a single database and
therefore would require manual review of individual student files to
extract the data requested. The University has estimated that the time
required to locate, retrieve and extract the information you have
requested would considerably surpass 18 hours of staff time charged at £25
per hour, and therefore that your request exceeds the appropriate limit of
£450 as set out in the Freedom of Information and Data Protection
(Appropriate Limit and Fees) Regulations 2004.  You may wish to consider
narrowing your request to bring it within the cost limit.

 

For the purpose of this application of section 12, the University has
aggregated this request (received on 8 August 2019) with your previous
requests (received on 9 July 2019 and 16 July 2019) as permitted under
Regulation 5 of the Fees Regulations so that the estimated cost of
complying with this request is taken to be the total costs of complying
with all three of them. Your requests were received within a period of
sixty consecutive working days and are requests that relate, to any
extent, to the same or similar information.

 

B. A list of the essay marks/scores awarded to offer holders by the Durham
admissions team during the 2016/2017 and 2017/2018 admissions cycles.
Please provide the data for the two admissions cycles separately.

Please see the response to question 3 of your previous request dated 9
July 2019.

 

If you are dissatisfied with the University’s response to your freedom of
information request, you can ask us to internally review our handling of
your request, including the application of any exemptions applied.  To do
this, please email [1][Durham University request email] or write to:

 

Information Governance Unit

The Palatine Centre

Stockton Road

Durham

DH1 3LE          

 

Please state the grounds on which you wish the decision to be reviewed and
enclose any other information that may be useful in considering the matter
further.  We aim to inform you of our decision within 20 working days from
the date your request for internal review is received.

 

If you are not satisfied with the results of the internal review you may
apply to the Information Commissioner's Office for an independent review.

 

Information Commissioner's Office

Wycliffe House

Water Lane

Wilmslow

Cheshire

SK9 5AF

[2]www.ico.org.uk

 

Yours sincerely

 

Information Governance Unit

Durham University

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Information Governance Unit, University Secretary’s Office

t: +44 (0) 191 33 46103/46246  e: [3][Durham University request email]

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John Dimitroulopoulos

Dear Durham University,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Durham University's handling of my FOI request 'Use of the LNAT - 2016/2017 and 2017/2018 admissions cycle'. A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/u....

I am seeking a request of the university's response to question A of my request. The university's response was as follows:

"The information you have requested, while held by the University, is
refused under section 12(1) of the Act. You have requested statistical
information that cannot be sourced easily from a single database and
therefore would require manual review of individual student files to
extract the data requested. The University has estimated that the time
required to locate, retrieve and extract the information you have
requested would considerably surpass 18 hours of staff time charged at £25
per hour, and therefore that your request exceeds the appropriate limit of
£450 as set out in the Freedom of Information and Data Protection
(Appropriate Limit and Fees) Regulations 2004. You may wish to consider
narrowing your request to bring it within the cost limit.

For the purpose of this application of section 12, the University has
aggregated this request (received on 8 August 2019) with your previous
requests (received on 9 July 2019 and 16 July 2019) as permitted under
Regulation 5 of the Fees Regulations so that the estimated cost of
complying with this request is taken to be the total costs of complying
with all three of them. Your requests were received within a period of
sixty consecutive working days and are requests that relate, to any
extent, to the same or similar information."

I believe that these justifications do not stand, for the following reasons:

1. The manual review of student files is unlikely to take more than 18 staff hours. The data I requested spans two admissions cycles, across which Durham gave offers to an estimate of 1800 applicants. Assuming that it would take 30 seconds for a data officer to open each file, scroll down or Ctrl-F to the exact same spot , and write down the LNAT multiple choice score, the total exericise should take around 15 hours (leaving another 3 hours for breaks and for a final compilation of the numbers).

2. Even if providing the data for two admissions cycles would somehow exceed this limit, I expected the university to offer more assistance in noting whether any of the LNAT data I requested could be extracted within the 18-hour time frame. The ICO's guidance to public authorities states the following:

"There is no official requirement for you to include an estimate of the costs in the refusal notice. However, you must give the requester reasonable advice and assistance to refine (change or narrow) their request. This will generally involve explaining why the limit would be exceeded and what information, if any, may be available within the limits." (https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/gui...)

As a result, I would like to hear whether the data for just one of the two relevant admissions cycles can be provided. Alternatively, the university could offer to provide the LNAT scores of students who accepted their law offers or who actually enrolled after either or both cycles. Both of these would cut down the number of records that would need to be manually reviewed.

3. The data I requested in my two previous requests only required the most cursory of enquiries - asking whether the university had access to the data in the first place, and how many contextual offers it had made in one year. The fact that admissions data is stored across multiple databases should be common knowledge, given the frequency of undergraduate-admissions-related FOI requests that are received by the university. As a result, I find difficulty in seeing how the section 12 aggregation makes a difference to the outcome. Of course, I would be more than happy to receive half the data if that would bring me under the limit.

Yours faithfully,

John Dimitroulopoulos

ACCESS I., Durham University

Dear Mr Dimitroulopoulos

Freedom of Information Request

I acknowledge receipt of your email below requesting information from Durham University.

Please be advised that the University will respond as soon as possible and in any event within 20 working days.

Yours sincerely

Information Governance Unit
Durham University
________________________________________
Information Governance Unit, University Secretary's Office
t: +44 (0) 191 33 46103/46246 e: [Durham University request email]

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John Dimitroulopoulos

Any update on my request for an internal review of your September decision?

Yours sincerely,

John Dimitroulopoulos

ACCESS I., Durham University

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Dimitroulopoulos

 

Thank you for your request for information from Durham University. 
Colleagues have provided the information below/attached in response to
your questions.

 

I would like to hear whether the data for just one of the two relevant
admissions cycles can be provided.  Alternatively, the university could
offer to provide the LNAT scores of students who accepted their law offers
or who actually enrolled after either or both cycles.

 

We have reviewed your request and have extracted the following information
which is able to be provided within the 18 hours timescale specified under
the FOI Act.

 

Please find attached the LNAT multiple choice score obtained by applicants
who received an offer in the 2017/18 cycle.

 

The LNAT score contributes to the assessment of merit and potential in an
application to LLB Law.  This assessment takes into account the context of
prior achievement, including contextual information, and considers the
whole application when making a decision and when setting any offer
conditions.

 

If you are dissatisfied with the University’s response to your freedom of
information request, you can ask us to internally review our handling of
your request, including the application of any exemptions applied.  To do
this, please email [1][Durham University request email] or write to:

 

Information Governance Unit

The Palatine Centre

Stockton Road

Durham

DH1 3LE          

 

Please state the grounds on which you wish the decision to be reviewed and
enclose any other information that may be useful in considering the matter
further.  We aim to inform you of our decision within 20 working days from
the date your request for internal review is received.

 

If you are not satisfied with the results of the internal review you may
apply to the Information Commissioner's Office for an independent review.

 

Information Commissioner's Office

Wycliffe House

Water Lane

Wilmslow

Cheshire

SK9 5AF

[2]www.ico.org.uk

 

Yours sincerely

 

Information Governance Unit

Durham University

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Information Governance Unit, University Secretary’s Office

t: +44 (0) 191 33 46103/46246  e: [3][Durham University request email]

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John Dimitroulopoulos

Thank you for your response.

Yours sincerely,

John Dimitroulopoulos