No 14: Freedom of Information Requests – still waiting 5 months on!

Freedom of Information Requests – still waiting 5 months on! 

I was delighted to receive the interesting and valuable comments from OG which can be viewed by clicking on the link on the right of this page.   He gives an interesting insight into what has been going on at the meetings of the University Council regarding possible merger options during the year up to the fatal meeting of 21 October 2011 when the Council took its illegal decision to both dissolve the University and to merge.

The two links given by OG give an interesting insight.   It was really interesting to learn from an insider that there was a dispute as to who had the right to vote on the merger issue and that it was possible that the staff representative was sent out of the meeting.   Incredible!   Who could have a greater interest in the future of the University than a member of the University staff? 

Freedom of Information Request to the University of Wales

OG very sensibly suggests that I should ask for copies of all the University Council minutes.   Well, I have asked for copies of the minutes through a Freedom of Information (FOI) Request which I originally sent on 9 September 2012.    There was an exchange of emails to clarify the issues and I received a message on 12 October 2012 to say that I would receive a reply within 20 days.    I’d sent 7 questions and I received replies to Questions 3, 6, 7 and 8 on 12 December 2012 and 1 February 2013 I received a reply to Question 5 and I had received a general reply to Question 4. 

I’ve already referred to some of these replies in earlier Blogs.  In Blog No 2, I quoted the reply to Question 3 which confirmed that the University had not consulted with its Graduates, as it is required to do by Statute, before taking the critical decision on 21 October 2011.   It is this failure that makes the decision invalid.

In Blog No 5, I quoted the reply I received on the Collaborative Centres and in Blog No 6, I quoted the reply on what happened to the funds of the Guild of Graduates to which we all became members on graduation.   

My first request was for copies of the minutes of the University Council and 5 months on I’m still waiting to receive them!    One would expect any such information to be available on the website.    Until recently the minutes of a meeting in 2010 were on the website but on checking today I found that this has now disappeared! 

Freedom of Information Request to the University of Wales: Trinity Saint David

On 8 November 2012 I sent a similar request to the University of Wales: Trinity Saint David (TSD) and on 13 November I was promised a reply within 20 days which is the standard timescale for a reply to a FOI request.   On 10 December 2012 I received a message of apology stating that the response would take a further 6 week which would have been the week starting 21 January 2013.    Again, after 4 months, I’m still waiting!

Freedom of Information Request to Swansea Metropolitan University

Contrast these responses to what happened when I made the same request to Swansea Metropolitan University.    I sent the request on 8 November 2012.    On 14 November I was promised that the information would be received within 20 days and I received the information on 6 December 2012, well within the 20 days.     Clearly, Swansea Metropolitan has an effective and efficient administration and I very much hope that this will continue following its merger with TSD.

But what on earth are they doing at the University of Wales and at TSD?     Have they actually been keeping minutes of the Council meetings?    OG’s comments suggest that the meetings were rather chaotic.   Perhaps it was difficult to keep accurate minutes?    I can’t understand why the minutes aren’t readily available to be sent out as were the minutes of the governing body of Swansea Metropolitan.    The incredible delay gives rise to the suspicion that they are busy at both the University of Wales and at TSD doctoring the minutes before they make them public!

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One Response to No 14: Freedom of Information Requests – still waiting 5 months on!

  1. OG says:

    I would suggest that you report the University of Wales and University of Wales Trinity St Davids to the Information Commissioner as soon as possible for refusing to provide you with the minutes of the Council meetings. I would also copy this request to the Minister and the education spokespeople of the opposition parties, as well as the BBC, ITV and the Western Mail so that they are aware what is going on. Both bodies are in breach of the Freedom of Information Act and would only be doing this if they had something to hide. There are serious questions over the governance of both institutions, how the merger was approved, and how the assets were effectively passed over to the head of another university when Professor Medwin Hughes was appointed Vice Chancellor of the University of Wales. How could any responsible members of a governing body allow the Vice Chancellor of a competing institution to become their own chief executive prior to a merger taking place. The situation is unprecedented. You may also want to ask about the background of the new members of the UW council since Oct 2011 and their links with SMU and UWTStD.

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