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The Freedom of Information Act 2000 gives you the right to have access to many different types of information held by public authorities. Section 3 of the Act defines the University of Chester as a public authority and section 19 obliges the University, along with all public authorities, to produce a guide to the information that they publish or intend to publish.  This guide is called a Publication Scheme.

A Publication Scheme has to be approved by the Office of the Information Commissioner and must include:- the types of information that are published or it is intended to publish, the means by which the information will be made available e.g. as a printed copy or on the Web site and details of any charges that will be applied.  Should you want more information about the Freedom of Information Act 2000, this can be obtained from the Office of the Information Commissioner, at the Freedom of Information and Data Protection Unit of the Department for Constitutional Affairs, which has responsibility for policy matters relating to Freedom of Information.

The University of Chester was founded as a Church of England College in 1839.  Having a history of over a hundred and sixty years, the University has a tradition older than many other universities, and it is from this that it draws its strength as a provider of education, training and research.  Nevertheless, despite this strong tradition, the University strives to embrace new ideas and learning experiences to enhance the experience of those students attending the University.  By way of this Publication Scheme we hope to guide you through information about the University and how it operates, to show you how we are meeting the challenge of providing a dynamic learning and research experience.

The Freedom of Information Act 2000 came in to full effect on 1 January 2005.  From that date anyone has a right to submit a written request to the University for all types of information.  The University will have a duty to respond to that request by either; releasing that information, upon receipt of the approved fee, which will be set at a level in accordance with the Fees Regulations contained in the Act, provide confirmation that it does not hold the information requested or by advising the enquirer that the information requested is subject to one or more of the exemptions detailed in the Freedom of Information Act, and as such cannot be released.  In certain cases, detailed within the Act, the University would be unable to confirm or deny that it held the information requested.  However, through the Publication Scheme the aim of the Act is to make a significant amount of information available, without waiting for anyone to ask for it.  In this way the government is seeking to promote an environment of greater openness and accountability throughout the public sector.

The Publication Scheme is not an exhaustive list of documents.  It is a guide to where you will be able to look for different types of information.  This information is split into ‘Classes’, and in accordance with section 19.1 of the Act, as more information becomes available it will be made accessible in the manner indicated in the Scheme.  By this method the Freedom of Information Act seeks to ensure that the public sector will make a commitment of openness to the public as well as making sure that the information that can be accessed is as up to date as possible.

As stated above, in accordance with the requirements of the Act, the information to which the Publication Scheme refers is split into different Classes.  The University has made much of this information available to the public for a considerable time, whereas other information has until now only been available to staff and students of the University. However, because the University received very few requests for the information which had not been publicly available until now, the decision about what Classes to include could not be based on frequently asked questions.  Therefore it was based on those Classes outlined in the draft model Publication Scheme for Higher Education Institutions issued by the Joint Information Systems Committee, based at the University of Bristol, to incorporate the widest possible range of questions posed to all Higher Education Institutions throughout the country.

The Scheme guides you through information in many formats, electronic, printed reports, leaflets and printed booklets.  If you are accessing the Publication Scheme by way of a computer, much of the information to which the Scheme refers is directly accessible by clicking on the blue links.  Some documents, such as The Prospectus and certain course leaflets are available free of charge.  However, should you require the University to provide you with copies of any documents that are not published for marketing purposes, there will be a copying charge of 5p for each A4 sheet provided.

Arrangements can also be made for the information referred to in the Scheme to be provided in alternative formats.  However, in order to meet such requests, a charge may have to be made to cover the cost of production.  Where this is the case, notification of the cost will be given in advance.

Overall responsibility for the Publication Scheme rests with the University Secretary/Bursar to whom all queries concerning the Scheme should be addressed.  Whereas day to day responsibility for the Publication Scheme rests with Rob Dawson, Institutional Compliance Officer 01244 511610.  Should you have any comments about how the Scheme could be improved, these should also be addressed to the University Secretary/Bursar; via the Institutional Compliance Officer, as should any complaints about the Scheme, or the availability of information referred to in the Scheme.  We will attempt to solve any complaints in an informal manner, but anyone who does not feel that a complaint has been dealt with properly may refer the matter to the;

Information Commissioner, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF   Tel: 01625 545700   Fax: 01625 545510

The Information Commissioner will only investigate a complaint if the University has had the opportunity to deal with the matter under its internal complaints procedure.  In order for the University to investigate a complaint fully, any information provided by the complainant may need to be shared with several members of the University staff, if they are involved in the decision making process, and the Information Commissioner.  Such information will not be used for any other purpose.

Not all of the information held by the University will be openly accessible.  This is because the Freedom of Information Act lists certain exemptions to the types of information to which you can expect to be given access.  Personal information is not generally available, because of the responsibility to maintain confidentiality conferred by the Data Protection Act 1998, and there are other qualified exemptions where the University must consider whether the public interest would be better served by not releasing information.  Examples of information of this type would include commercial matters the release of which could damage the interests of the University or a third party, details relating to law enforcement or investigations where access could damage the investigatory process and, information which, if it were to be made generally available, could jeopardise the health and safety of staff or students at the University.  Where this is the case, the Scheme makes it clear that the information is not openly accessible.  Should you want further information concerning the exemptions contained in the Freedom of Information Act, please contact the University Secretary/Bursar, or the Information Commissioner at the above address or at;