Birmingham uni could become exempt from the Freedom of Information Act

‘Universities are able to potentially hide information’

birmingham freedom of information government guild guild of students Jack Mably petition president Russell group selly oak students tab tab birmingham university UoB

A petition has been started to combat controversial changes to the ways in which universities comply with the Freedom of Information Act.

The Higher Education Green Paper released in November proposed significant changes to Higher Education in the UK. One of these was the degree to which universities must comply with the Freedom of Information Act.

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The Higher Education Green Paper proposes making universities exempt from the Freedom of Information Act. A petition has been started on petition.parliment.uk to counter these changes. You can support the petition here.

The Freedom of Information Act allows public access to information held by public authorities, like as universities. This means either publishing or responding to information requests from various groups, including student media and student unions.

The Russell Group, of which the University of Birmingham is a member, represents 24 universities in total. They have publicly supported this proposal and said: “The additional responsibilities created by FOI represent an unnecessary burden.

“Furthermore, changes in funding of higher education and the emergence of a private sector of higher education provision mean that continued application of the Freedom of Information Act to universities is unfair.”

However not everyone supports the proposed changes. The Guild’s President Jack Mably said: “FoIs are hugely important for students, SU’s student media and campaign groups to hold institutions to account and to ensure universities are working in the interests of its students. Without these it poses it an extra barrier where universities are able to potentially hide information.”