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August 13, 2007 | by  | in News |
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University charges Salient $1400 for Official Information request

Ombudsman to investigate

Victoria will release information requested under the Official Information Act to Salient regarding academic misconduct – but only for a $1400 fee.

Salient made a request to the University under the Act on May 9 for details on academic misconduct at Vic. The University responded a month later, but withheld information regarding the subjects, years of study and ethnicities of each student on its Academic Misconduct Register.

Salient last week reported that international students and Law students are more often found guilty of academic misconduct than others, based on information from sources within the University and other media reports.

Law School Deputy Head Gordon Stewart said that Law students weren’t misbehaving more, but says the School is “very robust in applying the statute” and “strict at checking academic misconduct”.

The University initially proposed a charge of $304.00 for five hours of staff time to provide Salient the ethnicities of students involved in academic misconduct cases. University Disputes Advisor Jon Everest says that the University records up to three ethnicities for students, so to obtain the details of students’ ethnicities, each student record would need to be manually checked.

Salient approached the Ombudsman’s Office to challenge the fee, as well as other withheld information. The Office last week told Salient the University would release all the information – however, the information regarding subjects and years of study would cost Salient another $1,140.00 for the 15 hours of staff time expected to be involved in the process.

Salient understands other media outlets are also seeking the same information.

The quoted costs come to a total of $1444.00 for 20 hours of work, or $72.00 an hour.

The Official Information Act outlines the acceptable charges for information, which the University’s charges are in line with. The first hour of retrieving information is free, and then $38 per half hour following that. The charge can be waived for a number of reasons, including causing the applicant hardship, or in the public interest.

Salient believes the information should be released in the public interest, to highlight trends within faculties which may show that students in those subjects, particularly international students not acquainted with New Zealand’s education system, are not receiving enough education or support on issues regarding academic conduct.

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