Information Commissioner's Office
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Students reminded of their information rights on results day

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has reminded students of their information rights as this year’s A-Level results are soon to be published. Under the Data Protection Act students can see information held about them, such as a breakdown of their marks, by making a subject access request to the examination body.

David Smith, Deputy Commissioner and Director of Data Protection, said:

“Results day can be an exciting time for many students; however it can also be a time of great stress for those who don’t get the marks they require. That is why we are reminding students that they have a right under the Data Protection Act to see information held about how their marks were arrived at, before deciding whether to re-sit an exam or pursue a particular subject at college or university.

“Having access to information - such as a breakdown of their overall mark and examiners’ comments – may not lead to their grades being altered but it could help them understand the process and make important decisions about their future. 

“We are keen to provide advice to students on submitting their request and have published guidance on our website. If examination bodies fail in their legal duty to respond, then students can bring a complaint to the ICO.”

Under the Act, individuals have the right to request the information that an organisation holds about them – known as a subject access request. Once a request is received an organisation generally has 40 days to respond. In the case of exam results, exam bodies must respond within 40 days from the date the results were published or within five months of the request being received - whichever of the two is the earliest.

The ICO’s guidance, ‘Individuals’ rights of access to examination records’, outlines how people can access more general information about  college or university policies or procedures.

The ICO has also produced guidance for schools and universities, explaining their responsibilities under the Data Protection Act, including what actions they should take when receiving a subject access request.

Notes to Editors

1. The Information Commissioner’s Office upholds information rights in the public interest, promoting openness by public bodies and data privacy for individuals.
2. The ICO has specific responsibilities set out in the Data Protection Act 1998, the Freedom of Information Act 2000, Environmental Information Regulations 2004 and Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003.
3. Anyone who processes personal information must comply with eight principles of the Data Protection Act, which make sure that personal information is:

  • Fairly and lawfully processed
  • Processed for limited purposes
  • Adequate, relevant and not excessive
  • Accurate and up to date
  • Not kept for longer than is necessary
  • Processed in line with your rights
  • Secure
  • Not transferred to other countries without adequate protection

4. The ICO is on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, and produces a monthly e-newsletter.

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