Explanatory notes

Explanatory notes

1.1 Purpose

The purpose of this general disposal authority is to provide for the authorised disposal and retention of University records.

1.2 Scope

This general disposal authority applies to all university records that fall within the definition of records in the attached draft policy document.
This general disposal authority can be applied to records of any age. This authority applies to records in any format, including electronic records and email.

1.3 Authority

It is expected that the Executive Management Group will approve this authority, in the first instance and the Governing Authority.

Persons using the authority will be asked to apply it with caution, bearing in mind that the authorisations for disposal are given in terms of the University Records Management Policy only and that it remains incumbent upon them not to dispose of records in contravention of the organisation's legal responsibilities or other interests or requirements.

1.4 Structure

The General Disposal Authority has a hierarchical structure that reflects its arrangement according to functions and business activities, rather than by subject or place within reporting structures of the organisation.

The hierarchical model represents a broad classification scheme for the records that document the organisation's functions, activities and transactions. The schedule part of the disposal authority is divided into the sections outlined below:

General Disposal Authority 1 -- Academic Administration: Research

General Disposal Authority 2 -- Academic Administration: Student Records

General Disposal Authority 3 -- Academic Administration: Teaching

General Disposal Authority 4 -- General Administration: Corporate Administration

General Disposal Authority 5 -- General Administration: Financial Management

General Disposal Authority 6 -- General Administration: Human Resources

General Disposal Authority 7 -- General Administration: Legal Administration

General Disposal Authority 8 -- General Administration: Public Affairs

General Disposal Authority 9 -- General Administration: University Governance

2.1 Coverage of authority

The General Disposal Authority

  • covers records of any age

  • covers records relating to functional activities and some administrative activities and is divided into sections representing the institution's main business process

  • specifies the minimum period records should be kept (retention periods)

  • specifies whether, upon the expiry of the retention periods, the records may be destroyed or are required as University archives

  • is applicable to records created and maintained in any format, including electronic formats and email

2.2 Layout

This section describes and explains the physical layout of the general disposal authority.

2.2.1 Number

This column records the entry number. Each number reflects the hierarchical structure of the disposal authority. The first part of each number gives the function number, the second part gives the activity number, and the last part gives the disposal class number.

2.2.2 Function/activity

This column records the broad function areas into which the schedule is divided as well as the activities into which each function is divided.


All of the functions are represented in full upper case characters.


The entries under each function are broken down into activities. Activities are listed in mixed lower case bold type.

2.2.3 Description

This column includes a number of different types of entries.


A definition/scope of the function is included at the beginning of the entries for each function. Definitions have also been provided for some of the activities listed in the schedule.


Cross-references have been provided to direct the user to related entries within the General Disposal Authority - University Records and to related entries in other general disposal authorities where relevant.

Disposal classes

The entries under each activity are broken down into disposal classes. Each disposal class consists of a brief description together with an individual retention period and disposal decision.

2.2.4 Disposal action

This column identifies the minimum retention periods for the records and the disposal decision (for example, retain minimum of 6 years after last action, then destroy). Each disposal action includes a disposal trigger. The trigger is the point from which the disposal action should be implemented. For example, a disposal action stating Retain minimum of 6 years after audit, then destroy informs the user that:

  • the records are authorised for destruction

  • the records' disposal trigger is the date of examination of the latest entry by audit or equivalent action, and

  • the record should be retained for at least 6 years after the trigger point.

Whereas a disposal action stating Retain 20 years after action completed. Required as University archives. informs the user that:

  • the records are required as University archives and therefore should not be destroyed

  • the records' disposal trigger is the date last action was completed, and

  • the records should be retained for 20 years after the trigger point before transferring control and/or custody of the records to University Records.

Date action completed

In many instances the trigger in this disposal authority is represented as the date action completed or dates of last action. This is necessary to allow for flexibility with varying practices within the university and requires a certain level of interpretation for these disposal classes. For instance in cases where the records directly relate to students the most appropriate interpretation of the date action completed may be the date of graduation or discontinuation of a course of study.

Records covered by multiple disposal classes

Some records may fall under more than one disposal class. This may occur with records in any format, although it is most likely to occur with paper files. Individual papers should not be 'culled' from files. The entire file should be disposed of at the same time. When sentencing such records:

  • the longest retention period should be applied to the record if the disposal classes require different retention periods;

  • if any part of a record is required as a University archive then the entire record should be retained as a University archive.

Regardless of whether a record has been authorised for destruction or is required as a University archive, a department must not transfer ownership of a University record to any person or organisation without the explicit authorisation of the University Archivist.

2.3 Format of records

This general disposal authority is applicable to any record which performs the function described, irrespective of format. Records may include:

  • cards

  • registers

  • files

  • microfilm

  • microfiche

  • maps and plans

  • electronic records, including various electronic media and email

  • film and video

2.4 Destruction of records

When the approved disposal date for the destruction of records has been reached, appropriate arrangements for their destruction will be made. It is the responsibility of the university to ensure that its records are destroyed in a confidential and appropriate manner. [A practical guideline is required here]

2.5 Access to records

The university is responsible, through its Archives Policy, (ratified by Governing Body, November 1988) for making access to all records over 30 years of age, regardless of their disposal status, with some exceptions.

Access directions open or close records to public access. Access to University records that are closed to public access or those that are less than 30 years of age can also be facilitated under arrangements approved by the President for special access or under the terms of theFreedom of Information Act (1997).

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