Planning, Governance and Compliance

Data Protection guidance for students

Processing Your Personal Data

The University is registered to hold data about you under current UK Data Protection law. Processing personal information is necessary for the operation of the University as an educational institution.

Examples of how your information will be used are as follows:

  • To administer your studies, record academic achievements, to determine and record your overall award outcome. The precise way in which your assessments are calculated is published in the relevant Examination Handbooks and programme documentation. We retain a permanent record of all awards of the University (see 'Disclosing Your Personal Data to Third Parties', below).
  • To assist in pastoral and welfare needs.
  • To administer the financial aspects of your registration as a student (e.g. payment of fees, debt collection).
  • To administer your tenancy, if you become a tenant of accommodation owned or managed by the University (e.g. rents, debt collection).
  • To manage University facilities (e.g. Computing, Library and sports facilities).
  • To produce management statistics.
  • To monitor equal opportunities policies (e.g. in relation to the Race Relations Act, disability discrimination, etc.).
  • To administer employment processes, should you choose to work at the University.
  • For security and disciplinary purposes (e.g. through the use of security cameras and reports of incidents compiled by security staff and others).
  • To enable our continued contact with you after you complete your studies (e.g. surveys of graduate work destinations and the work of the Alumni Office).

Additional processing may be required for students registered on specific programmes (e.g. teaching and social work) or with certain funding arrangements or choosing to pursue studies abroad.

Under the Data Protection Act an individual can request that such processing should not occur. In practice this would mean that the individual could not continue as a student of the University, since the University would be unable to carry out its basic operations, for instance processing examination results and determining final degree results.

However, the University is able to offer some choices about the way your data will be used:

  • Whether your photograph, as printed on your University ID card, is made available for limited use on departmental noticeboards.
  • Whether you are happy for the University to release your contact details to a limited number of organisations which work with the University, sometimes on a commercial basis.
  • Whether you are happy for us to pass your contact details to the Students' Union.

In addition, under certain circumstances, we can exclude your details from internal directories. For further details of this, please contact the Student Systems and Records Office.

Sensitive Personal Data

Some of the information about you that the University holds, such as your ethnic origin, is classified as sensitive personal data.  This is collected to meet Government requirements, to monitor whether our equal opportunities policies are working and to ensure that disabled students and other under-represented groups receive appropriate support. In addition to the normal standards of confidentiality set out below on the release of your data to third parties (outside the University), we also carefully control access to sensitive data within the University, so that it is only available to people who 'need to know'. It should be noted that the University has a special protocol on the disclosure of sensitive information (which may have been given in confidence) when there are exceptional circumstances, e.g. there is a risk to a student's health or safety, a student is at risk of serious abuse or exploitation, a student's behaviour is seriously affecting others, there is a possibility that a criminal or serious disciplinary offence has been committed, or where a student's health or behaviour may compromise the University's responsibilities to outside agencies, such as partner institutions or practice placements.

The University has issued Code of Practice on Handling Personal Information [PDF 14.48KB] . The general principle is that student data should be shared amongst staff only for the purposes of carrying out their normal duties. In interpreting this principle we try to be sensitive to the differing situations of groups of students. For instance, home/local contact details for full-time students are not normally available to members of academic staff, but tutors on part-time programmes are given access to students' contact details, else essential communications could be compromised. These variations to the principle of restricted access are allowed only where there is a clear balance of benefit to students themselves.

Disclosing Your Personal Data to Third Parties

We are required by law to collect and provide information on students to certain external agencies. These bodies include the Higher Education Statistics Agency (see 'National Data Collection: HESA', below), Student Loan Company, local education authorities and other grant-awarding bodies and local taxation authorities. We are also obliged to release information to the Benefits Agency, police and similar law officers undertaking criminal investigations, and in certain circumstances to officers of the Court in relation to civil proceedings. From time to time, institutions are asked to provide data they have collected to the Higher Education Funding Council or to other bodies acting on the Council's behalf, which may include personal details of students. As an example, the University may be required to provide student contact details for National Student Surveys.

Unless you have given permission for additional information to be provided, the only information which will normally be released to an appropriate third party (other than the special agencies referred to above) while you are a student here is:

  • the fact that you are a student here.
  • the mode of attendance of your programme (e.g. full-time or part-time).
  • the date you started and the date you are expected to complete the programme.

Please also note that if regular progress reports are required by your funding organsiation we will normally provide this information. If you have any queries about such reports, please contact your funding organisation.

Once you have completed your studies here, the details of your academic award from the University, including dates of attendance, are regarded as 'public' information (but not the fact that you have failed an award). Names of successful candidates will be published on open pass lists on campus noticeboards and in the graduation programme where applicable. This information will also be released to third party enquirers (for example, prospective employers).

You will be asked to nominate a referee when you leave the University. Your personal tutor/supervisor (or nominated referee if different) will also disclose relevant additional information about you if asked by a third party to provide a personal or academic reference for the purpose of employment or further study.

National Data Collection: HESA

The University's HESA (the Higher Education Statistics Agency) collection notice for students is available in full from the HESA website.

Archiving Your Personal Data

In due course, your records will form part of the student records archive which is kept on computer and for a certain period in paper format. Part of your computer record will also be made available to the University of Sussex Society (the Alumni Society) for approved purposes such as the construction of mailing lists.

Access to Personal Information

The Data Protection Act provides individuals with a right of access to their personal data under certain conditions and subject to a number of exemptions. If you wish to exercise your right under the Act, please see How to request your own information.