Corporate Governance

Data Protection - What it Means for Students

The University needs to process (that is, collect, use, store and ultimately destroy) personal information about you as a student to be able to record your application to the University, your progress through your course, to classify your final award(s) and to maintain contact as an alumni of the University.

The University is also obliged in some cases to collect information in line with legal requirements, for instance the University has to provide details of your attendance to the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE).

For the full data protection statement relating to student information please see the annual Data Protection Statement.

What Personal Data Do We Process?

The personal data the University collects from you at registration includes:

  • Your name
  • Contact details (address, e-mail, telephone numbers)
  • Emergency contact details
  • Date of birth
  • Country of nationality and of birth
  • Academic qualifications
  • Details of any disability
  • Details of any criminal convictions
  • Fee information and sponsorship details

During your time at University we will also process your assessment marks and background information about the units you choose.

This personal data may be kept in both paper and computer records but is kept securely in both cases, either in locked cabinets or password protected in the case of computer records.

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Sensitive Personal Data

Some of the personal data the University processes is defined as "sensitive personal data" under the DPA. This information must be treated even more carefully in terms of whether, and why, it needs to be collected and who can have access to it, than the rest of the data processed by the University. Examples of sensitive personal data are available here and the University may hold several examples of sensitive personal data about you. This data is requested for specific purposes and will not be used for any other purposes. Nor will sensitive personal data be released to a third party without your explicit consent unless it is necessary to protect the vital interests of you or another person.

Equal Opportunities Monitoring

Some of the sensitive personal data collected from you is used for equal opportunities monitoring. The personal data is used to prepare statistics for internal use e.g. the Board of Governors receives an annual report on equal opportunity matters, and for external agencies, generally the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA). The University is legally obliged to make these statistics publicly available, which it will do by publishing the statistics on its website.

All statistics are anonymised but, should the numbers being reported be small enough to potentially identify an individual, the figures will not be publicly reported.

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Use of Your Personal Data

Your personal data is collected at registration to enable the University to register you as a student with this institution and for the administration of your education, associated financial matters and use of the University's facilities.  Please see the annual data protection statement for full details of how your personal data might be used. If you have any further queries about how your data is to be used, please contact the University's InformatioN Disclosure Manager, Samantha Hill, on 023 9284 3642 or by email at

The University uses the anti-plagiarism software from Turnitin®. The software works by comparing your assessment against others logged with the service.

You may be required to submit your assessments to your tutors electronically, along with an electronic cover sheet recording your name, e-mail address, course details and the University's name. This information will be loaded onto the Turnitin® software where it will be stored and compared against work submitted by all the other HE institutions using the service, as well as that submitted by any other departments of this University. Your tutor will receive a report from the service which will identify any similarities between your work and the rest of the assessments stored by the service.

Your uploaded assessment and personal data will be retained by Turnitin® all the time the University continues to use the service. If the University chooses to withdraw from using the service, it then has the right to request the removal of any and all data relating to students from this University.

Further details on how the software works are available from your Department/School.

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Disclosure of Your Personal Data

The University will not give out your personal details to any third party except where you ask us to (in writing) or in the following instances:

  1. There are times when the University is under a legal requirement to provide information. One example of this is the requirement to send some personal data on students to the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA). This data forms your HESA record which contains mainly coded information about you including ethnicity and disability data. Your record, or parts of it, is then passed to the appropriate bodies that require it to carry out their statutory functions in relation to the funding of education. A full list of those bodies and the uses that will be made of your data can be found by visiting the HESA website. The University also needs, at times, to give data to government education departments, the Quality Assurance Agency, funding councils and representatives of these bodies such as auditors. The University will also provide data on request to law enforcement agencies where legally required to do so and where crime detection or prevention can be aided by the release of data.
  2. Data will be released to the Student Loans Company and Local Education Authorities in relation to financial matters associated with your education, and if necessary to parties involved in the recovery of debts to the University. The University will also disclose the personal details of students enrolled on full-time courses to Portsmouth City Council for Council Tax purposes.
  3. The University will disclose details about you if it is important to your vital interests e.g. if you are in need of emergency treatment and the University is asked to verify whether you have any medical conditions it would be necessary to know about.

Beyond these instances, the University will not disclose information about you to a third party without your written consent, given to the University either directly or through the third party requesting the data. This means that we will not release your personal data to employment agencies, banks, friends, relatives or sponsors without your consent. If friends or relatives need to contact you, University staff will happily try to pass on a message to you that your friend/relative is trying to contact you but will not give out your contact details.


The University will only supply references where you have already asked a member of staff to provide a reference, or where the request is accompanied by a consent form signed by you, showing that you have consented to a reference being requested. Under the Data Protection Act, the University is exempt from disclosing the contents of a confidential reference that it has provided, but must provide a copy of any reference that it receives. Requests for copies of references received by the University should be made using the Subject Access Request form.

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Your Rights

The rights you have under the DPA are set out in the earlier section on data subject rights. If you wish to exercise any of these rights, please contact Samantha Hill, the Information Disclosure and Complaints Manager, on 023 9284 3642.

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How long will the University keep your personal data?

The University will keep your full student record - as described above in What do we process? - for six years after the end of the academic year in which you graduate from, or otherwise leave, the University.  After six years, the University will retain only the data necessary to identify you and to confirm the dates you studied at the University, the degree and classification you were awarded and a transcript of your marks.  All other personal data on your student record will be disposed of in a secure manner.

The University, and several individual departments / schools within the University, operate alumni societies but personal data collected for this purpose is held separately from your student record.

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Your Responsibilities

1.  We need you to tell us if any of your details change - particularly your contact details - so that we can keep your record up to date.

2.  Don't give your student number or computer passwords to any other student, so there can be no chance of the number or password being abused.

3.  Finally, if you are involved in any research work at the University or any other position where you might come into contact with other people's personal data, please remember to treat that information in confidence, in line with the data protection principles, and not to pass it on to anyone else.  You should also inform your tutor that you will be processing personal data, so that your tutor can ensure the right procedures are followed.

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