Freedom of Information Act 2000
The Freedom of Information Act 2000 applies to all ‘public authorities’. It gives a general right of access to all types of recorded information held by public authorities, sets out exemptions from that right and places a number of obligations on those public authorities. The definition of a ‘public authority’ includes all universities and the colleges of Oxford and Cambridge. In respect of the University of Cambridge the ‘public authority’ is formally the University Council. Please note that the 31 constituent colleges of the University are separate legal entities for the purposes of the Freedom of Information Act.
Under the Act the University has two main responsibilities:
- the production and dissemination of a guide to the information we hold which is routinely made available to the public – this is known as a ‘Publication Scheme’;
- dealing with individual requests for information in accordance with the provisions of the Act.
The Act requires the University to adopt a Publication Scheme. This details the categories of information we make available on a routine basis thus providing a simpler and more immediate means of obtaining information. The University has adopted the latest Model Publication Scheme produced by the Information Commissioner, the independent authority responsible for overseeing compliance with the Act. A Guide to Information has been produced in accordance with the Information Commissioner's Definition Document for Universities and other Higher Education Institutions and this is available below.
The Act provides a general right of access by an individual to the information held by the University. Any person wishing to exercise this right must make their request in writing. The University must state whether it holds the information and, subject to any applicable exemptions and to the levying of any charges as permitted under the Act, must normally supply the information within 20 working days. The information must be supplied in a format acceptable to the applicant (e.g. by email or in hard copy) so far as reasonably practicable. We have a duty to provide advice and assistance to anyone seeking information.