Skip to main contentCambridge University Reporter

No 6505

Thursday 10 May 2018

Vol cxlviii No 29

pp. 550–569

Fly-sheets reprinted

Fly-sheets relating to the ballot on Grace 2 of 17 January 2018 (class-lists)

In accordance with the Council’s Notice on Discussions and Fly-sheets (Statutes and Ordinances, p. 110), the fly-sheets from the ballot on Grace 2 of 17 January 2018 (class-lists) are reprinted below. For the result of the ballot, see p. 563.

Grace 2 of 17th January 2018: Publication of Lists of Successful Candidates in ExaminationsNon placet flysheet

If approved, this Grace would permit any student, by ticking a box on a website, to opt out of inclusion in the published Tripos list. A student would be able to suppress publication of his or her class not only outside the Senate House, but also from any other form of record accessible to general members of the University, let alone members of the public. It is claimed that this is necessary in order to comply with the EU General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) which come into force on 25th May. However:

Between one quarter and one third of UK graduate job applications lie about their degree class or awarding institution.1, 2 It is necessary and in the public interest to combat this, and one of the most effective ways of doing so is to provide open publication of the Class Lists. Further, all involved in teaching students need access not only to current but also to previous and subsequent results of those they teach in order to be able to monitor their own performance. Both these are equally necessary, and therefore justifiable under GDPR Article 6(1)d, e3 which permit publication to protect the vital interests of other natural persons [those who have genuinely done well] or to perform a task in the public interest. It is in any case legal under Article 864 to disclose personal data in official documents [e.g. lists of exam results]. We therefore do not agree that such publication is prohibited by the GDPR (or otherwise5); publication is necessary to preserve the high reputational value of a good Cambridge degree and is in the public interest.

We further note that paid legal opinions such as that provided to the University tend to be quite strongly conservative, with an eye towards minimizing the likelihood that the firm providing the advice will incur any legal liability toward the recipient. Moreover, the firm providing the advice has a clear sense of what the recipient wishes to hear, and is naturally inclined to tailor the advice accordingly. We therefore deny that private legal advice is a sufficient basis for determining that a conflict exists with the law of the land, particularly when as now the relevant Bill6 is still before Parliament. Such questions can only be finally determined in the Courts.

While UK and EU students pay around £9k per year in fees, the direct costs to the University of educating those students is around double this7 and this does not include copious investment of academics’ own free time in students. Those in receipt of public money should be publicly accountable for the results achieved.

There are already adequate measures in place for permitting opt-outs from the Senate House lists for those who can show good cause. Any change from the present situation would be counterproductive and we urge the Regent House to vote non placet and thereby preserve open publication of Class Lists and the high standing of this University and its degrees.

B. C. Allanach

M. H. Kramer

M. C. Smith

J. D. Firth

J. R. Lister

D. J. Spiegelhalter

T. A. Fisher

T. G. Micklem

J. P. Talbot

R. D. Hedley

M. G. Pollitt

A. G. Thomason

S. Jackson

D. R. Pratt

J. Whaley

P. T. Johnstone

D. B. Skinner

A. Zsàk


  • 1The Guardian ( reported that year on year data from the Higher Education Degree Datacheck (HEDD) organisation shows that about a third of people embellish or exaggerate their academic qualifications when applying for jobs.

  • 2HEDD itself reports ( on false claims made in job applications and offers a means of checking job candidates’ degree qualifications. Checks from HEDD cost £12 per candidate and in the case of Cambridge take on average 28 days to complete and require the individual consent of the job candidate, which is too slow and expensive to check all applicants before shortlisting (after which damage has been done). HEDD’s current blog ( section ‘Imperfect Ten’) informs us that Risk Advisory surveyed 5,000 CVs in 2017 looking for false claims, and found that 20% contained lies about degree qualifications, and 7% claimed false degree classes. Reed Recruitment reported that when they analysed 10,000 CVs, 24% contained exaggerated degree results.

  • 3Article 6 section 1 of the GDPR ( provides that ‘Processing [which includes publication (article 4 section 2)] shall be lawful only if and to the extent that at least one of the following applies: ... (d) the processing is necessary in order to protect the vital interests of the data subject or of another natural person; (e) processing is necessary for the performance of a task carried out in the public interest;...’.

  • 4Article 86 of the GDPR provides that ‘Personal data in official documents held by a public authority or a public body or a private body for the performance of a task carried out in the public interest may be disclosed by the authority or body in accordance with Union or Member State law to which the public authority or body is subject...’.

  • 5That no legal right to non-publication of exam results exists before the GDPR has been specifically confirmed by the Information Commissioner.

  • 6Data Protection Bill 2018.

  • 7

Grace 2 of 17 January 2018 (class-lists)

Grace 2 allows students to opt out from the publication of their names in the class-lists published outside or read inside the Senate House and also in the class-lists reproduced in the Reporter in print and online. Unusually, this fly-sheet is signed by both members of the Regent House and student representatives and students. We all consider that students should have a right to choose whether to have their names and results published. Student choice should be respected, since students themselves are best placed to determine whether they wish to have their results widely known and may have legitimate personal reasons for opting out. It is important to recognise that students have reported that the sharing of data about their results without their consent has affected their welfare. Whilst opt out from publication is presently possible, this can only be done exceptionally with medical evidence being produced in support. This is unnecessarily restrictive and bureaucratic. Further, an easy opt-out from publication is required in order to comply with data protection legislation. It is clear, however, that Faculties, Departments and Colleges have a legitimate interest in receiving and analysing the unredacted class-lists and, as long as they are not published, such receipt will be compatible with the General Data Protection Regulation. Consequently, unredacted class-lists will be circulated to Faculties, Departments and Colleges for their legitimate use, but on the basis that they are not published to those who do not have a legitimate interest in seeing the class-lists.

Consequently, in the light of the new legal regime but also respecting the right of students to choose whether they wish their result to be published, we urge Regent House to vote placet to the Grace.

Members of the Regent House:

C. Y. Barlow

J. Gazzard

G. T. Parks

P. J. Barton

L. R. R. Gelsthorpe

G. J. Virgo

M. M. Beber

P. N. Hartle

G. B. Williams

J. M. R. Bunbury

S. Martin

D. F. Wood

M. Frasca-Spada

R. Padman

Student Members:

D. J. Bradford

L. P. Karayianni

S. Thorpe

Y. H. K. Chin

M. D. Kite

E. O. C. Travis

A. A. Cohen

M. Krish

G. M. Vale

I. Copplestone

R. J. Moulange

R. Vincent

G. Cowperthwaite

O. M. Olufemi

P. D. Warren

R. S. De Silva

F. Oulds

V. C. Y. Wong

D. E. Eyre

T. I. Pavlov

A. X. Ying

M. Frazer-Carroll

C. M. S. Smith

T. Zaletel

A. L. C. Hyde

M. Song

S. A. E. Illsley

S. Swain

Grace 2 of 17 January 2018 Placet fly-sheet

Grace 2 would allow students to opt out from the publication of their names in the class-lists published outside or read inside the Senate House and also in the class-lists reproduced in the Reporter in print and online. It has been prompted both by student desire for the creation of a straightforward opt-out mechanism and by forthcoming changes to data protection legislation arising from the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) from 25 May 2018. The GDPR will be supplemented by a new UK Data Protection Act, which is still being debated by Parliament, but that Act will not affect the legislative changes summarised below, which will automatically come into effect when the GDPR becomes law.

The GDPR requires organisations to have a valid lawful basis for ‘processing’ (using in any way) an individual’s personal information. The act of publishing class-lists, both outside and inside the Senate House and in the Reporter, is an act of processing. There is a comprehensive list of valid lawful bases at Article 6(1) of the GDPR as follows:

(a)That the individual has consented.

(b)That the processing is necessary to fulfil a contract with the individual (with the processing being an essential part of fulfilling the contract rather an optional or supplementary one).

(c)That the processing is necessary to fulfil a legal obligation set out under EU or UK law.

(d)That the processing is necessary to protect the vital interests of the individual.

(e)That the processing is necessary to perform a function of a public nature exercised in the public interest.

(f)That the processing is necessary to fulfil the legitimate interests of the organisation, except insofar as those interests are outweighed by those of the individual.

The publication of class-lists cannot be lawfully justified by reference to bases (b) to (e) above: such publication is not essential to fulfilling a contract; it is not necessary in order to meet a legal obligation imposed by EU or UK law; it is not necessary to protect the vital interests of an individual (i.e. to keep an individual alive); and it is not necessary to perform a function of a public nature exercised in the public interest (meaning a function mandated by EU or UK law). Accordingly, other than through obtaining explicit opt-in consent (basis (a) above), the only potentially applicable basis enabling the lawful public display of class-lists after 25 May 2018 will be basis (f) above, namely that the legitimate interests of the University necessitate the publication of such lists. However, where the processing of personal data takes place under this lawful basis: (i) it may only proceed so long as the individual’s interests have been balanced against the organisation’s; and (ii) an individual has the right under Article 21 of the GDPR to object to such processing, and the processing must be stopped unless there are ‘compelling legitimate grounds’ as to why it needs to continue.

In the context of class-lists, the most obvious mechanism by which to balance individual students’ interests against the University’s, and through which to collect objections to processing, is to provide a straightforward opt-out from being named in all forms of class-list made available in public. All such opt-outs must be respected under the GDPR because there will be no compelling legitimate grounds which are sufficient to override the objections of the individual. This is so not least because, as we understand it, complete class-lists, including the names of candidates who have opted out of publication, will continue to be circulated confidentially to Faculties, Departments and Colleges for their internal use. In this way, notwithstanding the opt-out mechanism, all teaching staff will continue to have access to the results of students whom they teach. In addition, we are advised that the Student Registry will continue to be able to verify qualifications awarded by the University in accordance with its established procedures.

In short, the approval of Grace 2 is necessary to ensure compliance with UK and European data protection legislation and we consequently urge Regent House to vote placet to the Grace.

P. M. Allmendinger

D. J. Maskell

G. J. Virgo

E. V. Ferran

A. D. Neely

A. D. Yates

E. N. Friel

R. W. Prager

L. R. R. Gelsthorpe

N. Tamkin