What is the Freedom of Information Act?
The Freedom of Information Act (2000) came fully into force from 1 January 2005, and provides public access to information held by public authorities. The Act covers any recorded information that is held by a public authority in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and by UK-wide public authorities based in Scotland. Recorded information includes printed documents, computer files, letters, emails, photographs, and sound or video recordings. Because of their access to public funding, universities are designated as public authorities for the purposes of the Act.
The Act enables any person anywhere in the world to make a Freedom of Information request, in writing, to a public authority, and normally the public authority must respond within 20 working days. “In writing” can be by either hard copy or electronic means. The person making the request does not have to say that they are exercising their rights under the Freedom of Information Act.
According to government guidance, Students' Unions are not considered public authorities for the purposes of the Act.
Implementation of the Freedom of Information Act is overseen nationally by the Information Commissioner's office, which has the same role in relation to Data Protection.
The Act does not give people access to their own personal data (information about themselves) such as their student records. If a member of the public wants to see information that a public authority holds about them, they should make a subject access request under the Data Protection Act 1998.
for more specific information designed to assist staff in their understanding of dealing with freedom of information requests.
for Frequently Asked Questions.
How to Request Information
All requests for information must be made in writing either via email or letter using the following contact details:-
The University Compliance Officer (FOI/DP)
Please provide a valid name and address (email or postal) for correspondence as well as a description of the information you would like Swansea University to provide you with.
Swansea University has the right to ask for clarification of any request for information where it does not prove possible to identify the information needed from the original description provided. In line with the Freedom of Information Act 2000 Section 10(6), the 20 working day timescale will be suspended until the required clarification has been received, restarting on the date when the information is received. If clarification is not provided then the request will be closed 60 working days from the date of the request for clarification.
Responding to Requests
The University has 20 working days to respond to requests, although there are some circumstances where this may be extended, such as to carry out a public interest test to determine where the balance of the public interest lies.
The cost limit for responding to Freedom of Information requests is £450 or 18 hours of work.
In responding to a request for information, the University is required to confirm or deny that it holds the information. If it is denying access to information, it must state which exemption is being claimed.
The Freedom of Information Act 2000 contains 23 exemptions to the right of access to information including Section 43 Commercial Interests, Section 22 Information Intended for Future Publication and Section 30 Investigations and Proceedings. Some exemptions are covered by the Public Interest Test, which means that the information must be revealed if to do so is in the public interest. For further information in relation to exemptions please click here.
If, upon receiving a response to a written request for information, you are dissatisfied with the outcome, you are entitled to appeal against the decision reached. All appeals must be made in writing to:
Director of Governance Services
Or by email
In order to progress your appeal as quickly as possible, please quote your request reference number and the date of your original request, as well as details of why you are making the appeal. Please include full contact details including a phone number where possible, in case we need to contact you during the appeal process. Receipt of your appeal will be acknowledged in writing. Following the review, you will be provided with a report containing the outcome and subsequent actions taken by Swansea University.
If you are not content with the outcome of the appeal, you have the right to apply directly to the Information Commissioner for a decision. The Information Commissioner can be contacted at: -
Information Commissioner’s Office,