University policy for student records (electronic and paper) is being developed by the University.
This guidance is intended to aid schools needing to devise and operate a local policy in the meantime. It is based on existing University policy and guidance, where it is available, and on the revised "JISC HE Business Classification Scheme and Records Retention Scheme".
Admissions records for successful applicants will become part of the current student record, for which retention advice is given in the next section.
Admissions records for unsuccessful candidates should be kept for at least 6 months, with current (JISC) advice suggesting they are held for a year following the admissions process. To ensure compliance with the data protection principles, admissions records for unsuccessful candidates should only be kept for a longer period where there is good (and documented) reason for doing so.
Current and Past Students
Please note that this summary is based on the current schedule for paper student records, for which implementation still has to be agreed. If in doubt about disposal of records please contact IMPS for advice.
Current advice, for schools which do not already have a retention schedule in place, is to dispose of records a minimum of 6 years after a student's departure (ie following their graduation or withdrawal, or following any subsequent appeal, complaint or similar contact). This is based on a University retention schedule for paper records (PDF-32KB) approved by the Senior Management Board in the summer of 2005.
However, there is concern regarding transcript data for part-time and postgraduate students graduating between 1998 and 2005, before transcripts were collected centrally. Schools should ensure that they have sufficient local data concerning these student cohorts, and for any special requirement their graduates (eg for delayed clinical or professional qualification), before disposing of the records.
At least a basic record, including period of study and award made, will be permanently retained centrally for all students. Student Services remains the first port of call for records of past students.
Scripts and examiners comments should be returned to the Examinations Office as soon as possible after the examination process. They will be stored and retained by the Examinations Office for 2 years after the papers have been sat.
Other assignments and theses
Students own the IP (Intellectual Property) in their work, although this does not preclude the University holding or retaining copies. It does mean, however, that student's permission should be sought where their work may be adapted or used for purposes other than their assessment (e.g. as an example for other students).
Assessments and theses will need to be retained for long enough to ensure:
- assessment and examination procedures are completed satisfactorily
- QA purposes are met, which may include holding sample work for an extended period.
- any relevant external body's requirements, policy and procedure are met.
Some schools have an established practice of retaining student work, especially masters' theses. In such cases it is important to record any limitation regarding access to the thesis, required by the student. A useful practice is to fix a notice inside the cover, describing any access limitations in terms of individuals and/or a timed embargo (e.g. only University/School members may have access; no access for 2 years, since commercially sensitive data included). In doing this, it is also important to ensure no guaranteed archive period is promised.
Further guidance regarding PhD theses is given in the Rules for Theses Submission.
Examination and Assessment Procedures
These records, including extenuating circumstances and extension forms, need to be kept long enough to fulfil assessment and examination procedures, and disposed of in keeping with the data protection principles (especially principles):
1.be obtained and processed fairly and lawfully and shall not be processed unless certain conditions are met;
3.be adequate, relevant and not excessive for those purposes;
5.not be kept for longer than is necessary for that purpose;
A general rule of thumb (based on the revised "JISC HE Business Classification Scheme Records Retention Schedule") is to keep such records for 6 years after the student's relationship with the University.
Before adapting these retention periods to your local situation, please see the advice given above, and, as with all record retention matters, ensure you follow the more general advice re Record Retention and Disposal Schedules.
And as always, do contact IMPS if you want to check specific instances.