Freedom of Information: eight key facts for staff Freedom of Information: eight key facts for staff

(1) The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) gives everyone, both in and outside UEA, a right of access to any recorded information held by UEA.

(2) At UEA, FOIA requests are handled centrally, by the Information Compliance team.

(3) We will treat a request for recorded information as a FOIA request unless it is for:

  • information given as part of our routine business, for example, standard responses to general enquiries
  • a request for environmental information (which will be handled under the EIR instead); or
  • the requester's own personal data (See Requests for personal information)

(4) Requests must be in writing, but can be received in print and digital formats, including via social media platforms. If someone makes a verbal request, advise them to put it in writing.

(5) Requests must state the name of the requester and contain contact details (an email address is sufficient). We also need to be able to understand what has been requested.

(6) A valid request for information must be answered within 20 working days.

(7) As all documents and emails could potentially be released under FOIA, you should ensure that those you create are clear and professional. Make sure they are are well maintained and accessible to other staff, so that they can find information needed to answer a request when you are not there.

(8) It is a criminal offence to destroy, conceal or amend emails or other record that has been requested under the Act. You may be liable for a fine if you do so.

what to do if you receive a request what to do if you receive a request

Not every request for information needs to be handled formally. If you routinely give out certain information to the public, staff and students, you should continue to do this. However, if you receive a request for information that:

  • mentions Freedom of Information, or
  • is not information you routinely provide in the course of your work, or
  • you are unsure of, or
  • is unusual,

Pass the request immediately to your FOIA Contact and the UEA Information Compliance team (foi@uea.ac.uk or +44(0)1603 59 3523/2431)

Act quickly. Remember, by law the request must be answered within 20 working days.

FOIA Contacts FOIA Contacts

There is a FOIA Contact for each Faculty and professional service within the University. A list can be found here.

Do we need to release everything that is requested? Do we need to release everything that is requested?

No - the Act provides exemptions from disclosure where appropriate or necessary. There are 23 exemptions within the Act but not all will be generally applicable to UEA.

The Information Compliance team are experienced in handling FOIA requests and will determine whether an exemption is likely to apply. Ask them for advice if you have any concerns about disclosure of information.

The Information Commissioner's Office website is the most authoritative source of information on FOIA, and their Guide to Freedom of Information includes information on exemptions. 

find out more find out more

We have produced an FAQ about the Freedom of Information Act specifically for staff.

An online FOIA training module is available for all UEA staff and students. The module takes 30-45 minutes to complete and can be accessed from Blackboard. 

the Information Compliance team offer face to face training for UEA departments on request, or if you have a specific query you can contact the team at foi@uea.ac.uk, or +44 (0)1603 593523.