Exclusive: University department leaks the names of students and their extenuating circumstances

The spreadsheet contained confidential information about students who applied for extenuating circumstances

An email detailing confidential extenuating circumstances has been sent to every undergraduate student in the American Studies school at UEA, The Tab can exclusively reveal.

It contained information about several private issues. It was sent to 320 AMA undergraduates enrolled in the school, naming every student next to their reason.

The Tab has been sent a copy of spreadsheet, however we will not be publishing any screenshots of it to preserve the integrity of concerned students.

The spreadsheet, which includes 42 AMA undergraduates’ names and details for the extenuating circumstances.

The email read: “Dear All, you may have erroneously received an email with a spreadsheet attachment. Could you pease delete this without opening/reading. Thank-you very much.”

A spokesperson for UEA told The Tab: “An email was mistakenly sent to 320 American Studies undergraduates last night containing details of students with extenuating circumstances. This clearly should not have happened and the university apologises unreservedly. The university has launched an urgent enquiry and is offering support to everyone affected. Anyone needing support should call 01603 592761.”

Commenting on the situation, Undergraduate Education Officer Theo Antoniou Phillips said: “This is a shocking and utterly unacceptable data breach that should never have happened. There are questions that the University needs to answer both about this case itself and the antiquated underpinning systems in the Hubs that result in cases like this being logged on rudimentary excel files in the first place.

“It is particularly galling given that students are required to divulge sensitive information to have an EC upheld, so the least the University can do is keep their data safe. In this case UEA’s ‘do it on the cheap until it goes wrong’ approach will have had devastating results for the students concerned and has to change.”

Commenting further Welfare Community and Diversity Officer Jo Swo said: “Given the University is supposed to be making mental health a priority, this is a real slap in the face to students who have sought support. Students will be rightly furious that something like this could happen- and given the nature of the personal detail revealed in the email we would advise any student affected to contact both the Student Support Service and the SU for support, and we’ll be urging the University to guarantee that a spike in demand for support caused by this failure will be resourced properly.

“We want to reassure students that the SU Advice Centre is free, confidential and completely independent from the University for anyone seeking any support during this time”

If you are one of those included in the sheet and feel personally affected by this story, please contact The Tab, we would like to speak to you.

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