Bristol University has been consistently failing to meet Freedom of Information request deadlines
It blames staffing and technical issues
New figures show that the University of Bristol is repeatedly failing to respond to Freedom of Information (FOI) requests in sufficient time.
Of the 474 FOI requests received by the University of Bristol in 2017, only 153 (32.3 per cent) were completed within the statutory deadline. This figure does not include those requests that were put on hold and subsequently closed due to clarification being requested and not received.
Under the 2000 Freedom of Information Act, members of the public can access information held by public authorities such as universities. Such authorities are supposed to reply within 20 working days, however Bristol University has repeatedly taken longer than this to reply.
Freedom of Information requests allow students, academics and journalists to hold the University to account. Recent stories such as the number of privately educated residents in each UoB hall of residence would not have been published without data obtained under the FOI Act.
Requests have been piling up on the 'WhatDoTheyKnow' website on Freedom of Information requests, with outstanding queries on issues such as subject participation requests and senior staff salaries.
According to an FOI request, as of 7th March 2018 there were 30 requests from 2017 still in progress. The University Freedom of Information team has blamed such delays on "Staffing issues throughout the year, as well as technical issues resulting from an IT migration".
Such issues "have presented notable challenges with regard to
providing timely responses to FoI requests." However the FOI team claim "these issues have been resolved and we hope to be back at full strength in the near future."