Personal information and data protection

This is a statement about how the University uses student personal data and is provided to you as part of the enrolment process. The University of Plymouth is a data controller and is registered with the Information Commissioner’s Office under registration number Z7546246 as required under the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA)

Why we need to hold personal data

The University processes students’ personal data as part of the necessary functioning of the institution. Personal data is information that can be used to identify you as an individual. You provide this by completing your application and enrolment form – as well as generating information while you are a student, such as your assessment results, hall of residence records, etc. It includes data about your attendance, achievements and engagement with the University. We may analyse this information to help support your time as a student. Your personal data will be used to provide you with services and support such as accommodation, the library, computer facilities and tutor support. Teaching and events within the University may be recorded and made accessible to students and staff. 

All personal information provided by or about you will be treated strictly in terms of the DPA. This means that confidentiality will be respected and measures will be taken to prevent unauthorised disclosure. The University will not normally disclose your personal data to third parties (including family and friends) without your consent unless exceptional circumstances apply as provided by the DPA.

We also ask you for a photograph which will appear on the University card. Your photograph will be stored electronically and will be accessible to staff of the University but will not be released to any external agency. You may also appear on CCTV records which the University keeps for security purposes. 

In certain circumstances, it may be necessary for the University to transfer your personal data to a country outside the European Economic Area (for example, if you undertake a course in such a country). Such a transfer will only be made for the purpose of your studies. However, you should be aware that countries outside the European Economic Area may not offer data protection law equivalent to that applicable in the United Kingdom.

Your responsibilities

It is a requirement of the DPA that information processed about individuals is accurate. It is essential that you keep your faculty or departmental/school office informed if you change personal details such as your name. You are also able to access and amend your address and contact details through the student portal; it is vital that you keep these up to date in order for the University to be able to contact you.

Access to your data

The DPA gives you certain rights of access to your personal data records held by the University. Almost all of the data is available online for you to check every year during the enrolment process. If you would like a copy of the personal information the University holds about you please make a Subject Access Request.

Disclosure of data

This list is not intended to be exhaustive but to give you an idea of the various kinds of processing of information which the University may need to undertake.

Disclosure within the University

Debtors

If you are in debt to the University, we will disclose sufficient personal data to a third party to enable it to pursue and recover the monies owing.

Alumni Association

Upon graduating from your studies you will automatically become a member of our alumni community, a global network of over 100,000 alumni and friends. We would like to keep you informed about University events, benefits and services. If you would like to receive invitations to exclusive events and a host of free support, you can choose to do so when you enrol or by contacting alumni@plymouth.ac.uk 

Publication of results

It is normal University practice to produce official results lists, showing the results of all students on a programme. A copy of the list may be placed on appropriate School notice boards or made available in the Faculty/School office. If you feel that the publication of your results in this way is not appropriate you may ask for your details not to be shown by contacting your Faculty Registrar. 

All graduating students (even if not attending a graduation ceremony) will have their name and course details listed in the graduation programme, local paper and on the graduation commemorative T-shirt. Should you not wish your details to appear please email gradlistingsoptout@plymouth.ac.uk.

Sensitive data

Some personal data is defined as ‘sensitive’ under the DPA, including the following:

  • ethnic origin
  • physical or mental health
  • the commission or alleged commission of an offence, and any proceedings arising 

Your explicit consent is normally required to process this data (although there are circumstances where that consent is not required such as where data is used solely for monitoring equality of opportunity, where data is used by health professionals, or in an emergency). The following paragraphs set out in some detail how we use that data; if you have any further questions please email dataprotection@plymouth.ac.uk.

Health and disability

We ask you to tell us if you have a disability. We are required to pass this data on to the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) and it will be used by HESA only for the purposes of monitoring equality of opportunity.

Within the University data about disability will be used for the purposes of monitoring equality of opportunity. It will also be used by Disability Services (DS) as an essential part of the provision of a service to students with disabilities. If you declare a disability, DS will contact you to see if they can provide you with further support

There may be circumstances when we have to release information, for example if you were taken ill. The DPA recognises that it is not always possible to seek your consent to the release of sensitive data in an emergency. 

You may disclose information about your health when you complete an Extenuating Circumstances form. This will normally remain confidential to the Extenuating Circumstances Screening Panel. More detailed information about Late Coursework and Extenuating Circumstances can be found by in the Student Handbook.

Commission of an offence

Any person with a criminal conviction will have been asked to declare that on their UCAS or University application form, and the University has a published policy and procedure for dealing with such applications. For courses in teaching, health, social work and those involving working with children or vulnerable adults, you may need an Enhanced Disclosure from the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS). Information about a criminal conviction is used as part of the admission procedure alone. However, if you are on a course leading to a professional qualification such as education, nursing, medicine or social work you will also be required to declare convictions obtained during the duration of your course, which will be recorded on the appropriate professional register. 

Disciplinary action

The Disciplinary Procedure makes it clear in which cases any record will be kept on file of misbehaviour or other breaches of discipline.

Disclosure to bodies outside the University

Student Union

The University will transfer summary details to the Student Union so that the Union can provide you with appropriate services. These transfers are governed by a data sharing agreement between Plymouth University and UPSU.

Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) 

In common with all universities, Plymouth is required to send data about individual students to the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA). Full details of how HESA will collect and use your data are available HESA Collection Notices

Council Tax Offices

The University may also provide limited data to Council Tax Offices of local authorities to enable them to assess whether you are liable for Council Tax. 

Electoral Roll

The University will also provide the Electoral Registration Officer at the relevant council with limited personal data in order to assist with the maintenance of a complete and accurate electoral reform register. 

GradIntel

We will disclose information about you and your studies to GradIntel who operate the service in order to provide you with your Higher Education Achievement Report (HEAR).

Plymouth Connect

We will disclose information about you to Aluminati who operate Plymouth Connect, our alumni platform. Further details are available on the Plymouth Connect pages. If you do not wish this to go ahead please email alumni@plymouth.ac.uk.

Home Office/UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI)

The University is a Tier 4 sponsor and may disclose to UKVI and/or the Home Office information about a student’s enrolment, attendance and other information as part of its duties as a Tier 4 sponsor, and/or when requested by a Home Office or UKVI Border official.
Student Loans Company, LEA and/or sponsoring body

We are also required to report on your attendance and performance to your local education authority or the Student Loans Company (SLC) on request, if you have been assessed for eligibility for support. Reports may also be provided to a sponsoring body, sponsoring employer or LEA, provided that the receipt of information on your progress forms part of the conditions of your sponsorship.

The University receives information from the SLC (based on data that you have supplied to your LEA) for use in determining eligibility for some bursaries and scholarships. 

Partner Colleges 

If your programme at the University involves an exchange programme with a partner college or is run in collaboration with a partner college we may share some of your personal information in order to administer your participation. 

Placement providers

Should you programme involve a placement the University may be required to share your personal information with the provider in order to facilitate your placement.

Police

In certain circumstances, the University may be required to disclose personal data to the police or courts for the purposes of the prevention or detection of crime, or where it is necessary to protect your vital interests, in an extreme emergency. The University has an information sharing protocol with Devon and Cornwall Police where personal data of students can be shared when crime detection or prevention can be aided by its release.

Plymouth City Council

The University may be required to disclose personal data to Plymouth City Council if it is for the purposes of the prevention or detection of anti-social behaviour issues. The University has a data sharing agreement with Plymouth City Council where personal data of students can be shared when crime detection or prevention in relation to noise and anti-social behaviour can be aided by its release.

Professional bodies

If you are enrolled on a course leading to a professional qualification the University will be required to share some information with the regulatory body in order to confirm your qualifications and accredit your course 

Provision of references to employers etc.

We will provide references or confirm marks to potential employers or other educational institutions on receipt of an official written request from them. It is assumed that by citing the University on an employment/further study application, you are giving us permission to release relevant personal data. 

Research 

The University may from time to time be asked to provide data to members of staff or external organisations such as the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) for research purposes. For professional purposes staff may include in their CV’s summary details of research students under their supervision.

Surveys

Feedback from final year students (except those funded by the NHS) will be sought as part of the National Student Survey (NSS), the results of which form part of a package of public information on teaching quality for every university. The survey will be carried out by Ipsos MORI, an independent external company and will take the form of a short online questionnaire. The personal data will not be used for any other purpose than the survey, and will not be passed on to any other parties/companies. All your answers will be kept confidential, with results being published in subject groupings. 

The Student Perception Questionnaire is an annual survey carried out electronically for all undergraduate students not taking part in the National Student Survey (some exclusions apply). Responses will be kept confidential and the results are published internally at faculty, school, programme and stage.

HESA (Higher Education Statistics Agency) requires the University to carry out follow-up studies surveying University leavers after they graduate; these include the Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) Longitudinal survey. The DLHE survey (and any subsequent follow-up surveys) will be carried out by IFF Research in partnership with the University. View further information about the DLHE survey and how the University uses the data collected from it. If you do not want to take part in these longitudinal surveys please email PlymouthDLHE@IFFResearch.com 

Third Party providers

The University may provide limited personal data to contracted third parties to enable provision of services for the purposes of teaching, learning and administrative support. Such arrangements will be governed by non-disclosure agreements and personal data provided will be the minimum necessary for provision of the service concerned.

Turnitin®

The University makes use of the Turnitin® UK system to help assessors check students' work for improper citation and potential plagiarism. Students may therefore be required to provide a limited amount of personal data, for instance name, email address and course details and submissions, to Turnitin® when using the service.