Data Rights and Exams

27th August 2019 Media Law

Results season is in full swing, a few weeks ago university graduations were taking place, the A Level results were released recently and GCSE students have just been informed of their results.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has issued guidance about how students can access further information about their exam results. To help cut through the jargon, it may assist if I explain that the ICO is the UK’s independent regulator of data.

You can read the ICO’s guidance here.

How does it work?

The law that regulates data protection is the General Data Protection Regulation or “GDPR„ as the regulations have become more commonly known. The UK legislation is the Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA18).

Amongst other things, Article 15 of the GDPR says that individuals have the right to obtain copies of their data. This is known as the right of access or a subject access request (SAR).

The DPA18 says that individuals/students are not entitled to see the answers that have been written on the examination script. Top students will know they can find that at Schedule 2, Part 4 Paragraph 25(1) of the DPA18. Do I get an A*?

What information can a student request?

Schedule 2, Part 4 Paragraph 25 (2) of the DPA18 also says that individuals (in this case students) are entitled to know how the data controller is processing the examination data. To be clear, the data controller is the organisation holding the personal data and in this context would be the examination board, school or university. The data that you may expect to receive would be comments from the examiner and of course, your mark.

Ordinarily an individual can expect to receive a reply to a SAR within one month subject to some exceptions. In the case of a SAR regarding exam results, the position is slightly different in that the data controller (such as the university, school or exam board) must respond within one month if the exam results have been published. Conversely, if the results haven’t been published then the individual can expect a response within five months of the request or within 40 days of the publication of the results whichever is sooner.

If the school, university or exam board fails to respond within those timescales or you have received an inadequate response, you may be entitled to compensation.

Talk to Us

For more information contact the Data Law team at JMW Solicitors on 0345 872 6666.

If you have received your results or are expecting to receive them, good luck!

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Dominic Walker is a Solicitor located in Manchesterin our Media Law department

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