The Freedom of Information Act was passed on 30 November 2000 and fully came into force by 1 January 2005. Its purpose is to promote a culture of openness and accountability amongst public authorities, by providing the public with rights of access to the information they hold. These rights are not restricted to individuals with a connection to the public authorities or the information. These rights facilitate better understanding of:
How public authorities carry out their duties
Why they make the decisions they do
How they spend public money
Universities fall within the definition of public authorities.
The Act establishes certain rights for the public and places responsibilities on Durham University associated with those rights, principally:
The maintenance of a Publication Scheme, which acts as a guide to the information the University routinely publishes about itself
The public right to request recorded information held by the University and not covered by an exemption, in addition to that information within the Publication Scheme. A request needs to be made in writing.