Internal, open access

Third parties

A variety of third parties, including colleagues and other University employees, parents, sponsors, Undergraduate students on campus 4  the police etc., may contact a Tutor seeking information about a student.

Tutors must exercise great care in disclosing information to third parties in order to comply with the Data Protection Act.


Internal enquiries

It is acceptable to release (orally or via electronic or 'hard' copy) student personal data to fellow University employees, who require that information in order to carry out their normal duties. Usually the enquirer will be well-known to you and you will not be in any doubt about her/his identity, however, where this is not the case Tutors must take steps to verify the identity of the enquirer. For example, where you receive an enquiry by telephone, it is recommended practice to call the enquirer back on a verifiable telephone number, allowing a delay.

External enquiries

External enquiries should normally be referred, in the first instance to the Helpdesk in the Student Services Centre, Carrington Building.

It is not acceptable to give information about a student, past or present, to external enquirers nor should you confirm any information they give you, nor even say whether or not someone is a student at the University. Anyone seeking to make contact with a student should be told that a message will be passed on if the intended recipient is a student.

There are exceptions which allow information to be given:

  • To state what qualifications the University has awarded
  • When the student has given consent (e.g. to provide a reference)
  • When the information is required by law (see procedural safeguards below)
  • When the information is required in the overriding interest of the student.

In the last two cases, requests should normally be referred urgently to the Helpdesk in the Student Services Centre, Carrington Building (ext. 5555).

If you are confident that you are free to disclose information about a student under these exceptions you should ensure that you are dealing with a bona fide enquirer. In addition to verifying their identity, try to ensure that the enquirer is not someone from whom the student is and wishes to remain estranged.

The way in which third party enquiries should be handled will depend in part on who the enquirer is.

Parents/spouses/other relatives
Students' relatives do not have the general right to information about their child/partner/relative (which they often assume). In such cases, refer the enquiry to the Helpdesk in the Student Services Centre, Carrington Building, whose normal practice is to offer to pass on messages.

Other students
Other students should be treated as external enquirers as they do not have special rights to information about their fellow students. Refer enquirers to the Helpdesk in the Student Services Centre, Carrington Building who will normally offer to pass on messages to individuals or may undertake to do a specific mailing.

Sponsors and similar bodies (LAs, Embassies, High Commissions, private companies, charities, etc.) do not have a general right to access 'their' students' personal data (although in some cases, the University may undertake routinely to provide academically-related information to sponsors, such as progress reports, subject to explicit consent by the student). Refer them to the relevant faculty office or the Helpdesk in the Student Services Centre if necessary.

Media enquiries
Enquiries concerning named individuals or otherwise relating to students should always be referred, without comment, to the Communications Office, Whiteknights House (x8408).

Police enquiries
Enquiries from law officers in connection with their investigations should be referred to the Helpdesk in the Student Services Centre, Carrington Building (ext. 5555), as should enquiries from other government agencies (e.g. HM Customs).

The guidance above is adapted from the University's Guidelines on the Handling of Student Personal Data. Further advice and assistance is available from the Data Protection Officer or on the Data Protection website.

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