How to make an FOI request
Applications under the FOI Act
Under the FOI Act, anyone is entitled to apply for access to information not otherwise publicly available. Each person has a right to:
access records held by the University;
correct personal information relating to oneself held by the University where it is inaccurate, incomplete or misleading;
access reasons for decisions made by the University directly affecting oneself.
The following records come within the scope of the Act:
all records relating to personal information held by the University irrespective of when created;
all other records created since 21st April, 1998;
any other records created prior to 21st April 1998 where these records are necessary to the understanding of a current record;
personnel records of serving staff created from 21st April, 1995 and those created prior to that date where being used or proposed to be used in a way which adversely affects or may affect the person involved.
Under the Act, a record includes any papers, memorandum, text or other document, any photograph, film or recording or any form in which data are held (whether manual, mechanical or electronic), and anything that is a part or a copy, or a combination of the foregoing.
Access to information under the Act is subject to certain exemptions. Should the University decide to withhold information under any of these exemption provisions, the specific exemption clause which has been invoked will be clearly explained.
Compiling Your Application
Applications under the FOI Act should be sent via email to: email@example.com **PLEASE NOTE: Due to the current closure of the UCC Campuses arising from the Irish Government's directive related to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, it is not possible to respond to postal or telephone queries. Please send all FOI queries and requests via email only (firstname.lastname@example.org). Thank you.
The University will normally be obliged to respond to the request within 4 weeks.
Requests for Access to Records
(S.12 of the FOI Act)
Your application should be in writing. You may use the University’s FOI Application Form which is available from the Information Compliance Officer or by clicking Request for Access to Records (s.12) If you are not using the form outlined above, then your application should indicate that the information is sought under the Freedom of Information Act.
If you require a reply in a particular format i.e. photocopy, computer disk, etc. please mention this in your application.
Please be as detailed and as specific as possible when compiling your application as this will assist the University in dealing with your request. It can also result in lesser charges being incurred on search and retrieval in cases where these fall to be paid. Where possible please try to indicate the time period for which you wish to access records e.g. records created between May 2014 and December, 2014. Also, if possible, try to specify the areas of the University which you feel would be most relevant to your request. If you have any difficulty in preparing your application the Information Compliance Officer will be happy to assist you in this regard.
You may be required to prove your identity, especially when seeking personal information, so you may, therefore, be asked to produce two of the following: your Birth Certificate, Driving Licence, Passport or other form of identity.
Please include a day-time telephone number, if possible, so that you may be contacted quickly if it is necessary to clarify details of your request.
Requests to have Information Amended
(Section 9 of the FOI Act)
Your application should be in writing. You may use the University’s FOI Application Form which is available from the Information Compliance Officer or by clicking Request for Amendment of Records (s.9)
You must give details of the information which you believe is incorrect, incomplete or misleading.
You must specify the amendments which you wish to make.
You should also supply appropriate information in support of your application.
Requests for Reasons for Decisions
(Section 10 of the FOI Act)
Your application should be in writing and must state that your request is made under Section 10 of the FOI Act. You may use the University’s FOI Application Form which is available from the FOI Unit of the University or by clicking Request for Reasons for a Decision (s.10)
An application under this section must be made within 12 months after the date on which the person affected by the act becomes aware of it.
Assistance to Persons with a Disability
The University's Information Compliance Officer is available to provide assistance to persons with a disability to exercise their rights under the FOI Act (e.g. accepting oral requests from requesters who are unable to read, print and/or write due to their disability, enabling the requester to inspect or have records explained to him or her). For further information, please contact the Information Compliance Officer
FOI Decision Making at UCC
Decisions on applications are made by nominated officers known internally as FOI Decision Makers. Internal Appeal decisions are made by nominated officers of a higher grade and are, generally, not made by the direct superior officer of the FOI Decision Maker.
The Information Compliance Officer acknowledges receipt of FOI applications, not later than 2 weeks following their receipt, and forwards them to the FOI Decision Maker in the Department or Unit which holds the relevant records. The nominated FOI Decision Maker proceeds to deal with the request, liaise with the requester as appropriate and make a decision in the matter, with the support and advice of the Information Compliance Officer.
Rights of Review and Appeal
The Act sets out a series of exemptions to protect sensitive information where its disclosure may damage key interests of the State or of third parties. Where a public body invokes these provisions to withhold information, the decision may be appealed. Decisions in relation to deferral of access, charges, forms of access, etc. may also be the subject of appeal. Details of the appeals mechanisms are as follows:
You may seek internal review of the initial decision which will be carried out by an official at a higher level if:
you are dissatisfied with the initial response received i.e. refusal of information, form of access, charges, etc; or
you have not received a reply within 4 weeks of your initial application. This is deemed to be a refusal of your request and allows you to proceed to internal review.
Requests for internal review should be submitted in writing to:
Information Compliance Officer
University College Cork
4 Carrigside, College Road
Phone: (021) 4903949
Such a request for internal review must be submitted within 4 weeks of the initial decision. The University must complete the review within 3 weeks. Internal review must normally be completed before an appeal may be made to the Office of the Information Commissioner. if the request involves non-personal records, an internal review application fee of €30 applies ( €10 for medical card holders)
Review by the Information Commissioner
Following completion of internal review, you may seek independent review of the decision from the Information Commissioner. Also if you have not received a reply to your application for internal review within 3 weeks, this is deemed to be a refusal and you may appeal the matter to the Commissioner.
Appeals in writing may be made directly to the Information Commissioner at the following address:
Office of the Information Commissioner
18 Lower Leeson Street,
Phone: (01) 6395689
Fax: (01) 6395674
Statement of Policy with regard to Confidentiality and FOI
The University undertakes to treat as confidential any information provided to it in confidence by individuals or others, subject to the University’s obligations under law, including the Freedom of Information Act.
If, for any reason, it is wished that information provided to the University should not be disclosed because of its sensitive nature, then it is incumbent upon the person or body when supplying the information to make clear this wish and to specify the reasons for the information’s sensitivity.
The University will consult with any individual or body so supplying sensitive information before making a decision on any Freedom of Information request received.
Fees and Charges
There is no application fee for making an FOI request regardless of whether the request is for personal or non-personal records.
For requests for personal records, no application fee applies in the event that an internal review or review by the Information Commissioner is sought.
In the event that a requester wishes to have a decision reviewed for a request involving non-personal records, the following application fees apply:
- Internal Review - €30 (€10 for medical card holders),
- Review by the Information Commissioner - €50 (€15 for medical card holders).
Section 27 of the FOI Act 2014 provides for Search, Retieval and Copying fees.
Fees apply in respect of the time spent searching and retrieving records that are released to you as a result of an FOI request and in respect of the copying of any records released.
The following charges apply in relation to requests for records made under the FOI Act:
- If your request is for personal records, no fees will be charged for copying the records requested unless a large number of records are involved.
- The rates of these fees are as follows:
€20.00 per hour - search and retrieval
€0.04 per sheet for a photocopy
- Search, retrieval and copying fees will apply where the preparation time for a request exceeds 5 hours, that is, there is a minimum threshold of €100 below which, no such fees will be charged.
- A deposit may be sought.
Where search, retrieval and copying fees are deemed to apply, University will, if requested, assist the requester to amend the request so as to reduce or eliminate the amount of the deposit.
Charges may be waived in the following circumstances:
- Where the cost of collecting and accounting for the fee would exceed the amount of the fee
- Where the information would be of particular assistance to the understanding of an issue of national importance
- In the case of personal information, where such charges would not be reasonable having regard to the means of the requester.