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Data protection and University examinations

How to comply with the Data Protection Act when publishing exam results and responding to students' requests for exam information.

There is a range of information that a student can request under the Act. Staff and external examiners must take care to understand what information can be made available under a Subject Access Request.

Examination scripts

The examination scripts themselves, particularly the information recorded by candidates in exams, are exempt from disclosure under the Act. However, if examiners record any comments on the scripts themselves, they can be disclosed if the student makes a Subject Access Request to see them.

Examiner's comments on examination scripts and assessed work must be intelligible, appropriate and capable of being copied for a Data Subject.

Students may also ask to see examination marks, but if the request is made before the examination results are publicly announced, the timescale for responding to the request is extended, normally to 40 days from the date the results are publicly announced.

Examination board minutes

Minutes of examination boards and other boards that contain a record of discussions about students, for example, Individual Mitigating Circumstances (IMCs) panel meetings are subject to disclosure if the student makes a Subject Access Request to see them.

It may be necessary to redact the data to prevent details pertaining to other students from being disclosed.

Publishing results

All departments must ensure that exam and assessment results are only disclosed to the student themselves.

If you intend to publish any lists publicly, for example on a noticeboard in a department, you will need to ensure that the data is published in an anonymised form.

Never publish results where third parties can see them, such as on the internet. Never disclose examination or assessment results over the telephone unless you can properly identify the student.

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