Bristol students' data may be shared to private companies


New legislation, that was due to be introduced on Monday, means the new Universities regulator may be able to share the data of thousands of students, including those at the University of Bristol, with private companies.

The new legislation would have become law on Monday (18th June), and allows for the Office for Students (OfS) to share students' data with companies such as education firm Pearson, the Student Loans Company, tax authority HMRC and the Competition and Markets authority.

The OfS holds data on students' academic progress, physical and mental health records and graduate employment details.

A Department for Education spokesperson defended the policy in the Daily Telegraph. They said: "as the new universities regulator, the OfS need to be able to share information when needed, with other bodies so they can properly address any issues around quality, management and governance, student experience, and any other potential wrongdoing".

Students themselves, however, seem less keen on the idea. In 2015, UCAS ran a survey that showed 93% of students would be against the sharing of such data.

The legislation itself has been stalled after The Labour Party tabled a motion which means the bill will now have to be debated before officially becoming law.

Gordon Marsden, Labour MP and shadow education secretary, told the Daily Telegraph: "There is nothing we know of to stop that data being passsed on or sold to another company. There is not much point talking about people being in control of their own data if you have government blindly handing over masses of personal data to large companies without any of us knowing the terms under which it is handed to them"

Featured image: Epigram/Cameron Scheijde

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Cameron Scheijde

Former Editor | Co-Editor-in-Chief 2018-19 | Online Comment Editor, 2017-18