How do I make a Freedom of Information request

The Freedom of Information Act 2000 gives the public the right, subject to certain exemptions enumerated in the Act, to access information held by public authorities (such as universities).

It also requires such public authorities to make information available proactively through a Publication Scheme.

 How do I make a FOI request?

Any person who makes a request to the University for information  not made available through the publication scheme is entitled (subject to the exemptions enumerated in the Act) to be informed in writing whether the University holds the information requested and if so, to have the information communicated to him or her.

An FOI request must:

  • Be in writing (email, letter, fax etc)
  • Include the requestor’s name (eg Mr Smith, Mr T Smith, Mr Tom Smith, Tom Smith. A request from “Tom” would not be classed as a valid request).
  • Include the requestor’s address – an email address is sufficient.
  • Not be vexatious – eg where the university has been bombarded with several requests for similar information and the University can show that these requests have the potential to cause a disproportionate or unjustified level of disruption, irritation or distress.
  • Not be identical or substantially similar to other requests received from that person and a reasonable time period has not elapsed between the requests.
  • Provide enough information to enable the University to identify the information being requested. Eg if a request asks for details of all emergency loans given to students in the last 12 months.  The University would be required to go back to the applicant for clarification of the timeframe for the request.  Does the applicant mean:
  • The last 12 months from today
  • The last University Academic year.
  • The last University Financial year,
  • The last Fiscal Financial year, or
  • The last calendar year

All requests may be sent to the following address:

The Information Compliance Manager
Legal Services
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

The request for review may also be sent by email to


There are 23 exemptions under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, which may be applied to information which the University has decided that it is not happy to release.

Exemptions will be applied by Legal Services. The decision will be based on the information being requested and whether its release would prejudice the University. Legal Services are required to consider whether the exemption is Absolute or Qualified. An Absolute Exemption is where the Public Authority is not required to consider the Public Interest, these include:

  • The information is readily accessible to the applicant by other      means
  • The information is supplied by, or relating to, bodies dealing with      security matters
  • The information is personal information and would be covered by the      Data Protection Act 1998
  • Information provided in Confidence

A Qualified Exemption is where the Public Authority is required to consider the Public Interest; ie, does the Public Interest in receiving this information outweigh the University's in withholding it. Examples of this type of exemption include:

  • Information intended for future publication
  • Health and Safety
  • Legal Professional Privilege
  • Commercial Interests

 Reviews and Appeals

If you do not feel that we have dealt with your request in accordance with the requirements of Part 1 of the Act, you may requests a review. Your request for a review should specify in what respect you do not feel that the requirements have not been met. The request for review should be addresses to the Information Compliance Manager and posted to the address above or sent by email.

The Information Commissioner is also responsible for enforcing rights of access. You may apply to the Information Commissioner in writing (FOI/EIR Complaints Resolution, Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, and Cheshire SK9 5AF) or electronically for a decision whether, in any specified respect, your request for information has been dealt with by the University in accordance with the requirements of Part 1 of the Act. The Information Commissioner will not normally take action unless he is satisfied that the University’s review procedures have been exhausted.



Professional Services