Skip to content

The University of Chester is committed to protecting the rights and freedoms of individuals as detailed in relevant Data Protection legislation including looking after any personal data that it collects, uses or hold.  This Data Processing and Privacy Notice describes how and why we collect and use personal information about you.  It is issued under your right to be informed about how the University collects, uses and stores your personal data.

This notice supplements the information contained in the Privacy Notice for Employees[1] which covers more general information relating to your employment.

Data Protection Principles

We will comply with data protection legislation, which says that the personal information we hold about you must be:

  • Used lawfully, fairly and in a transparent way
  • Collected only for valid purposes that we have clearly explained to you and not used in any way that is incompatible with those purposes
  • Relevant to the purposes we have told you about and limited only to those purposes
  • Accurate and kept up to date
  • Kept only as long as necessary for the purposes we have told you about
  • Kept securely

What Personal Data does the University collect?

Personal data means any information about an individual from which that person can be identified. It does not include data where the identity has been removed (anonymous data).

The personal data that may be included within the REF submission is sourced from HR records. The data for an individual will include:

  • personal details such as your name and title;
  • date of birth and gender;
  • details of your employment history including HESA number, job titles and periods of secondment;
  • Open research and contributor ID (ORCID), where held;
  • information about your terms and conditions of employment as detailed in your appointment letter and contract of employment.

What Special Category Data does the University Collect?

The REF submission allows the University to make requests to reduce the number of outputs submitted based upon reduced research productivity in the period of assessment (1st August 2013 – 31st July 2020) due to a defined range of circumstances which are:

  1. Qualifying as an early career researcher;
  2. Absence from work due to secondments or career breaks outside the HE sector;
  3. Qualifying periods of family-related leave;
  4. Qualifying as a junior clinical academic (UOAs 1–6 only);
  5. Circumstances with an equivalent effect to absence, that require a judgement about the appropriate reduction in outputs, which are:
    1. Disability.
    2. Ill health, injury, or mental health conditions.
    3. Constraints relating to pregnancy, maternity, paternity, adoption or childcare.
    4. Other caring responsibilities (such as caring for an elderly or disabled family member).
    5. Gender reassignment.
    6. Other circumstances relating to the protected characteristics listed in the ‘Guidance on codes of practice[2]’, Table 1, or relating to activities protected by employment legislation.

Definitions and guidance on the reductions which may be sought can be found in Annex L of the Guidance on submissions[3].

In order to make an application to reduce the number of outputs submitted the University will collect data about individuals which relate to the individual circumstances listed above Some of these individual circumstances will relate to health conditions and family-related leave.

This data will be supplied by the individual by completing a template form returned to the REF Data Officer in the Research & Knowledge Transfer Office – and will be used only for the purposes of the REF submission.

Why does the University need this data and how will the University use this data?

The contractual data will be used to provide the REF panels with information about our staff(and former staff), their eligibility to be included in the submission and to calculate the number of outputs that must be submitted.

The information about individual circumstances will be used by the University to make decisions about whether to request reductions to the number of outputs that need to be submitted. The declaration of individual circumstances is entirely voluntary. You can find a full explanation of our process for handling individual circumstance requests in our Code of Practice[4], but in summary the process is:

  1. Forms are received by the REF Data Officer who will collate an anonymised case on each member of staff declaring individual circumstances.
  2. Each anonymised case will be processed by the Director of Research & Knowledge Transfer to calculate any reduction according to the published criteria, in order to make a recommendation on whether an individual may be returned with no outputs and/or the potential reduction in the number of outputs required for the UoA. In complex cases, advice may be sought from an HR Manager or Occupational Health Advisor. The decision will be made by a small panel consisting of the PVC (Research & Knowledge Transfer), a Dean and HR Manager.
  3. UoA Co-ordinators will be informed of the potential effect on the number of outputs required and the names of individuals who may be returned with no outputs. They will not be informed of the nature of any individual circumstances.  More significantly, UoA Coordinators and Heads of Department will not be provided with the names of individuals whose circumstance(s) have a potential impact upon the number of outputs required for the submission.

What is the Legal Basis for processing the data?

The University needs to process personal data for the performance of a task carried out in the public interests. Processing personal data allows the University to make a submission to Research Excellence Framework which potentially benefits the University by: generating research income from Research England; contributing to the reputation of University by benchmarking and influencing league table positions. The submission also provides accountability for the use of public funds.

Where we process special categories of personal data, such as those relating to your ethnicity, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, disability, gender identity and health this is necessary for the reasons of substantial public interest of equal opportunities monitoring, reasonable adjustments and to ensure that expectations of research productivity can be adjusted to reflect individual circumstances in the field of social protection law.

For how long will the University keep this Data?

Individual circumstances disclosure forms will be retained until the completion of the REF2021 audit and publication of the results of REF2021 – expected in December 2021. Only anonymised data will be retained beyond this date.

Your contractual data will be sourced from HR and retained according to their normal retention schedules.

Who has access to the data and with whom will the University share this data?

Your personal individual circumstances form will only be available to the REF Data Officer at the University. If the University decides on the basis of anonymised data to submit a request to reduce the number of outputs then the following information must be submitted:

a. Information to enable the REF team to identify you within the submission i.e. via your HESA number and a staff identifier code*;

b. Details about which circumstances apply;

c. A brief statement (max. 200 words) describing how the circumstances have affected your ability to research productively in the assessment period.

*All data contained within the submission system will be accessible to the REF Data Officer and Director of Research & Knowledge Transfer.

Parts of your data will be passed to the REF expert panels and the Equality and Diversity Advisory Panel (whose members are independent of UKRI) for the purpose of conducting a systematic evaluation of submissions, in accordance with predetermined criteria and methods. All panel members are bound by confidentiality arrangements.

How will the University keep this data secure?

Paper records relating to individual circumstances (i.e. individual circumstances disclosure forms) will be stored securely in locked cabinets in the office of the Technical Advisors and password protected electronic files held on the University’s secure servers. Anonymised papers which may be required to be considered at decision making meetings will be distributed at the start of a meeting and then collected and shredded at the end of the meeting.

It is important that the personal information we hold about you is accurate and current. Please keep us informed if your personal information changes. 

What Rights do you have as a Data Subject?

As a data subject of the University, under the Data Protection legislation, you have a number of rights with regards to your data, dependent upon the legal basis for processing that data.  As such you have the right to…

  • Withdraw consent - where the University has used consent as the legal basis for processing;
  • Be informed – about how the University, collects and uses your data;
  • Access your personal data that the University holds and process;
  • Rectify or correct any inaccuracies in your personal data that we hold;
  • Be forgotten by requesting that your details are removed from the University systems;
  • Restrict the processing of your data whilst it is being verified or corrected;
  • Port your data in a machine readable and commonly used format; 
  • Object to certain processing by the University including direct marketing, automated decision making, profiling, scientific/historical research and statistics;

The above rights are not absolute and may only apply in some circumstances such as being dependent upon which lawful process has been used or whether an exemption may apply.

The following table details the right that accompany each lawful basis.

You may contact the University’s Data Protection Officer as necessary regarding your rights. 

Who is the Data Controller and who is the Data Protection Officer?

The Data Controller is the University of Chester, Parkgate Road, Chester, CH1 4BJ.  The Data Controller’s representative is Mr Adrian Lee, University Secretary, who may be contacted at the University address and on 01244 511000. 

The University’s Data Protection Officer (DPO) is Rob Dawson.  He may also be contacted at the University’s address and tel number and also by email on

How to raise questions, comments, concerns, or complaints.

Should you have any questions, comments, concerns or complaints regarding the use of your personal data you should contact the University’s Data Protection Officer as detailed above. 

You may also raise any concerns or complaints with the Information Commissioner’s Office who may be contacted as follows:

Information Commissioners Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Tel: 0303 123 1113.

Changes to this Notice

We reserve the right to update this privacy notice at any time, and we will provide you with a new privacy notice when we make any substantial updates.  We may also notify you in other ways from time to time about the processing of your personal information.