Gilliver and James Cook University

Application number:
2006 F0204
Decision date:
Monday, Apr 30, 2007

Gilliver and James Cook University
(2006 F0204, 30 April 2007)

Section 40(c) – substantial adverse effect

The applicant sought access to subject codes in an internal University report containing results of student feedback surveys about subjects. Disclosure of the codes would allow identification of particular subjects’ survey results and in some cases, the identity of the teacher of that subject.

Assistant Commissioner Corby was not satisfied that, individually or aggregated, the adverse effects of potential damage to reputations of staff members and possible reduction in effectiveness of the University’s student feedback about subjects scheme, could reasonably be expected to have a ‘substantial adverse effect’ on the University’s management or assessment of its academic staff’.

Section 44(1) – personal affairs

Assistant Commissioner Corby found that the subject codes did not qualify for exemption from disclosure to the applicant under section 44(1) of the FOI Act.  Assistant Commissioner Corby found that the subject codes did not reveal information concerning the personal affairs of any person, as the numeric codes themselves contained no matter that could be said to concern a person’s personal affairs, and the identification of particular staff members with the survey results of subjects taught by them, concerned the employment affairs of those staff members and not the personal affairs of those staff members.

Section 46(1)(b) – confidential information – communicated in confidence

Assistant Commissioner Corby found that disclosure of the subject codes could not reasonably be expected to prejudice the future supply of the subject codes, students’ responses to subject surveys, or the internal University reports containing the survey responses by subject.  Accordingly, the matter in issue did not qualify for exemption under section 46(1)(b) of the FOI Act.