Making a Freedom of Information Request

Introduction

Requests for information that is not confidential or sensitive are called routine requests. Faculty and staff should make every reasonable effort to respond to routine requests without requiring the requester to use the FOI process.

Requests for records that may contain confidential or sensitive information are called freedom of information (FOI) requests. These requests are processed by the Office of the University Counsel. Under the FOI process, individuals may request most records in the custody or under the control of UBC. While the FIPPA requires UBC to release most records, in some cases UBC may be authorized or required to redact information from these records before releasing them.

How to Make a Freedom of Information Request

  1. All requests must be submitted in writing. You may send your request by email, letter or fax. You may also use one of our application forms:

Form to request general records

Form to request your own personal records

  1. FOI requests must provide sufficient detail to enable an experienced employee of UBC, with a reasonable effort, to identify the records sought. Please keep in mind that any missing information may require requests for clarifications, which will delay the processing of your request and may also result in extra fees.
  1. Requests must clearly specify the type of records being requested, as well as a date range and the office or individuals where you believe the records may be found. If you are requesting records that contain your own personal information, please provide your UBC ID and date of birth to assist us to locate the records.
  1. FIPPA requires UBC to respond to requests for records (recorded information), not answer questions. For example, “I request copies of any reports submitted to the Board of Governors relating to the renovation of the UBC library” is a valid FOI request because it is a request for records. However, “Why did UBC renovate the library?” is a question and therefore is not a valid FOI request.
  1. Requests must include your legal name and contact information. While we prefer to communicate with you by email, we will correspond with you by mail if you explicitly request us to do so.
  1. For security reasons, UBC will need to check your government issued photo ID or UBC ID before releasing personal information to you.
  1. If you are requesting personal information of somebody else, you must provide an authorization signed by that individual (electronic signatures are not acceptable). This authorization must specify:
      • To whom the personal information may be disclosed.
      • What personal information may be disclosed
      • The date on which the consent expires (if you leave this blank, we will assume your authorization expires after one year)

You may choose to download and use UBC’s authorization form:

Form to authorize disclosure of personal information

  1. Requests may be emailed to access.and.privacy@ubc.ca, faxed to (604) 822-8731, or mailed to:

Freedom of Information Specialist
The University of British Columbia
Office of the University Counsel
6328 Memorial Road
Vancouver BC  V6T 1Z2

Commonly Requested Records

Student Academic Records: If you need to make an FOI request for student academic or educational records, UBC will consider this request to be for the student transcript, which contains the complete academic history of a student. Student transcripts are routinely available for a fee from Enrolment Services. For more information visit https://students.ubc.ca/enrolment/records/ordering-transcript.

If you require any records in addition to the student transcript, you must request them from the Office of the University Counsel by providing the following details:

    • the specific additional records that you are requesting about the student and, if possible, the department in which those records are located
    • the student’s complete legal name, and any alternate forms of the name that may appear in UBC’s files
    • UBC Student ID number
    • date of birth
    • an authorization signed by the student (if applicable)

Student Health Records: Most student health records at UBC may be requested directly from the student health unit involved, which may be either UBC Student Health Services or UBC Counselling Services. The UBC Hospital is not part of UBC. Its health records may be requested from the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority at 604.736.2033.

Employment Records: Faculty and staff members can make a routine access request to review their personnel files at Faculty Relations or at Human Resources. If you need to request employment records through the FOI process, provide the following details:

    • the employee’s complete legal name, and any alternate forms of the name that may appear in UBC’s files
    • UBC Employee ID number
    • date of birth
    • for student employment records, the job program under which the job placement was made
    • an authorization signed by the employee (if applicable)

Records of a Deceased Individual: Under the FIPPA, deceased individuals have a right to privacy. Please contact a Freedom of Information Specialist to learn about the requirements to access records of deceased students, alumni, or employees.

Non-personal Records: As UBC is authorized to recover costs for the time taken in the search and in the reproduction of non-personal records, it is to your advantage to make a request as specific and concise as possible. You should identify the individuals and/or offices where you believe the requested records are held. If possible, you should also provide the type of records you are seeking, as well as a date range.

FOI Request Procedures

Request for personal information

    • Request is received by the Office of the University Counsel (OUC).
    • Request is entered into the FOI Requests database and assigned a file number.
    • Acknowledgement is sent to the applicant.
    • Requests for clarification or additional information are also sent at this stage and the file is placed on hold. If no additional information is received within 10 business days, the request is considered abandoned.
    • UBC does not charge recovery cost fees for FOIs for an applicant’s own personal information.
    • Retrieval of Records email is sent to the various unit(s) identified to search, prepare, and send the requested records to the OUC.
    • Once the unit(s) have completed their search, all records are forwarded to the Office of the University Counsel.
    • Upon receiving the records, an FOI Specialist reviews the records and determines if any third party notification letters have to be sent out and if any information should be redacted (black out) from the records in accordance with the FIPPA.
    • Once all records have been reviewed, the material is prepared for release.
    • A response letter is sent to the applicant, along with copies of any releasable records.
    • After receiving a response letter, an applicant has 30 days in which to request a review of UBC’s decisions by the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner.

Request for non-personal information

    • Request is received by the Office of the University Counsel (OUC).
    • Request is entered into the FOI Requests database and assigned a file number.
    • Acknowledgement is sent to the applicant.
    • Requests for clarification or additional information are also sent at this stage and the file is placed on hold. If no additional information is received within 10 business days, the request is considered abandoned.
    • Retrieval of Records email is sent to the various unit(s) identified to provide estimates of how long it will take to locate, compile, and organize the requested records and how many pages they anticipate the records will comprise.
    • Once the area(s) have provided their estimates to the Office of the University Counsel, the FOI Specialist prepares an aggregate fee estimate and mails it to the applicant. The file is placed on hold until payment is received.
    • FIPPA exempts from any recovery fee the first three hours spent during a record search. Consequently, if the total aggregate is three hours or less, no fee is involved.
    • Upon receiving payment of the fee estimate, A Retrieval of Records email is sent out to the various unit(s) identified to search, prepare, and send the requested records to the OUC.
    • Upon receiving the records, the FOI Specialist reviews the records and determines if any third party notification letters have to be sent out and if any information should be removed from the records in accordance with the Act.
    • Once all records have been reviewed, the material is prepared for release.
    • A response letter is sent to the applicant, along with copies of any releasable records.
    • After receiving a response letter, an applicant has 30 days in which to request a review of the UBC’s decisions by the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner.