Guidance on Records Retention Schedules

What is a retention schedule?

A retention schedule tells you how long to keep specific records and/or record types.

Retention schedules promote control over the University’s records, enable us to dispose of records we no longer need, and ensure the retention of the minimum volume of records consistent with economy and efficiency of staff time, space, and equipment. Retention schedules also enable better compliance with access to information legislation, such as the General Data Protection Regulation and Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.

Bespoke record retention schedules

Bespoke retention schedules provide Schools, Colleges, and Services with access to business-specific instructions on the appropriate time required to retain their particular digital and paper records.

Each retention schedule lists the records created and held within a section. Each record type is assigned a total retention period and an eventual fate. The total retention period is broken down into the amount of time the records will be held within the office and, if applicable, the amount of time they will be held at the University Records Centre. The fate of the records designates whether they will be ultimately destroyed or archived.

Each record will have a designated "trigger" which begins the retention period. This trigger varies based on the record's needs; a trigger may occur, for example, at the creation of the record, or at the end of a project, or six months after termination of study/employment.

Retention schedule resources

The following schedules may provide guidance on records held within your business area:

Jisc also provides schedules for HEI activities, with recommended retention periods to guide organisations in drafting their own schedules. More information can be found on the Jisc website.

What should I do with the records once they are no longer needed for current business?

Records that are no longer needed for current business may be retained within the office, or if space and storage are at a minimum, moved offsite until they are destroyed. The University Records Centre manages the deposit, storage, retrieval, and destruction of original paper records which must be held outside the office. Note that the Records Centre will only accept records where there is an agreed records retention schedule in place.