FoISA Exemptions

FoISA Exemptions

The Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA) gives the general right of access to all recorded information that is held by the University. FOISA is intended to promote openness and accountability within all Scottish public authorities - including universities. However, some information may be exempt from disclosure by the University if one of the Act's exemptions applies. Many of these exemptions are not absolute and are subject to a public interest test and a harm test.  

The University is committed to a policy of meeting its obligations under FOISA and to allowing access to University information unless a specific and valid exemption applies. Only the information to which an exemption applies can be withheld. That is, if a particular document is requested which contains some exempt information, only those specific pieces of exempt information can be withheld. The rest of the document must be released. 

The potential use of any of exemptions, except for section 25 - Information otherwise accessible, must be passed the the Data Protection and Freedom of Information Office via your local FoISA - Coordinators. The DP & FOI Office will assess the case for or against the use of any exemption. Common exemptions, and their associated section of FOISA, include:

 section 25   Information otherwise available
 section 26  Prohibitions on disclosure
 section 27  Information intended for future publication
 section 28  Relations within the United Kingdom
 section 29  Formulation of Scottish Administration policy
 section 30  Prejudice to the effective conduct of public affairs
 section 31  National security and defence
 section 32  International relations
 section 33  Commercial interests and the economy
 section 34  Investigations by Scottish Public Authorities and proceedings arising out of such investigations
 section 35  Law enforcement
 section 36  Confidentiality
 section 37  Court records
 section 38  Personal information
 section 39  Health, safety and the environment
 section 40  Audit functions
 section 41  Communications with Her Majesty etc and honours

The Scottish Information Commissioner's website provides a range of comprehensive guidance on the exemptions, plus the results of decisions over both the use of the exemptions and the handling of information requests.