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Freedom of Information - Introduction

1. INTRODUCTION TO THE PUBLICATION SCHEME
 

The Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA) provides individuals with a right of access to all recorded information held by Scotland's public authorities. Anyone can use this right, and information can only be withheld where FOISA expressly permits it.

Section 23 of FOISA also requires that all Scottish public authorities maintain a publication scheme.  A publication scheme sets out the types of information that a public authority routinely makes available.   This scheme has been approved by the Scottish Information Commissioner, who is responsible for enforcing FOISA. The Commissioner’s Model can be viewed here: http://www.itspublicknowledge.info/ScottishPublicAuthorities/PublicationSchemes/TheModelPublicationScheme.aspx . We are also obliged to review this scheme from time to time.

The purpose of the scheme is to provide you with details of the range of information that we routinely publish.  The scheme also provides details of how you can access this information, and tells you whether it is available free, or if there is a charge for the information.

Alongside FOISA, the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004 (the EIRs) provide a separate right of access to the environmental information that we hold.  This publication scheme also contains details of the environmental information that we routinely make available.

Where information is not published under this scheme, you can request it from us under FOISA or, in the case of environmental information, the EIRs.  For further information on accessing information not covered by this scheme, refer to Section 11 'How to access information not available under the scheme.

2. ABOUT SABHAL MÒR OSTAIG
 

SABHAL MÒR OSTAIG

Sabhal Mòr Ostaig is the world's only Gaelic College and was created in 1973. Offering both higher and further education courses, in many modes, Sabhal Mòr Ostaig is a National Centre for Excellence attracting over 1000 students a year from all over the world. Sabhal Mòr Ostaig is one of 14 colleges and research institutions who make up UHI Millennium Institute. Because of this, some of the information given in this publication scheme will apply to UHI Millennium Institute as a whole and other parts will be specific to Sabhal Mòr Ostaig.
Sabhal Mòr Ostaig has adopted the model publication scheme (MPS) for Further Education Institutions, as required by S 23 of the Act 2003. The purpose of this scheme is to allow the general public access to information about Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, how it is run, how decisions are made, etc.


3. PREPARING THE PUBLICATION SCHEME
 

When preparing or reviewing our publication scheme, we are obliged by FOISA to have due regard to the public interest in providing access to the information that we hold which relates to:

  • the services we provide;
  • the costs of those services;
  • the standard of those services;
  • the facts that inform the important decisions we take; and
  • the reasoning that informs our decisions.


4. ACCESSING INFORMATION UNDER THE SCHEME
 

Information available under our publication scheme will normally be available through the routes described below.  Section 12  'Classes of Information' provides more details on the information available under the scheme, along with additional guidance on how the information falling within each 'class' may be accessed.

Online:
Most information listed in our publication scheme is available to download from our website.  In many cases a link within Section 12: Classes of Information will direct you to the relevant page or document.  Where no such link is present, you can use our website's 'Search' facility at http://www.smo.uhi.ac.uk/seirbheis/rannsaich/english.html

If you are still having trouble finding any document listed under our scheme, then please call Christine Mackenzie on 01471 888 200 for further assistance.

By email:
If the information you seek is listed in our publication scheme but is not published on our website, we can send it to you by email, wherever possible.  When requesting information from us, please provide a telephone number so that we can telephone you to clarify details, if necessary.

By phone:
Information can also be requested from us over the telephone.  Please call Christine Mackenzie on 01471 888 200 to request information available under this scheme

By post:
All information under the scheme will normally be available in paper copy form.  Please address your request to:

Christine Mackenzie
Freedom of Information Officer
Sabhal Mòr Ostaig
Teangue
Isle of Skye
IV44 8RQ

When writing to us to request information, please include your name and address, full details of the information or documents you would like to receive, and any fee applicable (see Section 6: Our Charging Policy for further information on fees).  Please also include a telephone number so we can telephone you to clarify any details, if necessary.


4. ACCESSING INFORMATION UNDER THE SCHEME (cont.)
 

Advice and assistance:
If you have any difficulty identifying the information you want to access, then please contact Christine Mackenzie runaire@smo.uhi.ac.uk who will be happy to help.


5. INFORMATION THAT WE MAY WITHHOLD
 

All information covered by our publication scheme can either be accessed through our website, or will be provided promptly following our receipt of your request.

Our aim in maintaining this publication scheme is to be as open as possible.  You should note, however, that there may be limited circumstances where information will be withheld from one of the classes of information listed in Section 12  'Classes of Information'.  Information will only be withheld, however, where FOISA (or, in the case of environmental information, the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004) expressly permits it.

Information may be withheld, for example, where its disclosure would breach the law of confidentiality, harm an organisation's commercial interests, or endanger the protection of the environment.  Information may also be withheld if it is another person's personal information, and its release would breach the data protection legislation. 

Whenever information is withheld we will inform you of this, and will set out why that information cannot be released. Even where information is withheld it may, in many cases, be possible to provide copies with the withheld information edited out.

If you wish to complain about any information which has been withheld from you, please refer to Section 10 'Complaints'.


6. OUR CHARGING POLICY
 

Unless otherwise stated in Section 12 'Classes of Information', all information contained within our scheme is available from us free of charge where it can be downloaded from our website or where it can be sent to you electronically by email.

We reserve the right to impose charges for providing information in paper copy or on computer disc.  Charges will reflect the actual costs of reproduction and postage to the authority, as set out below.

In the event that a charge is to be levied, you will be advised of the charge and how it has been calculated.  Information will not be provided to you until payment has been received.

Reproduction costs:
Where charges are applied, photocopied information will be charged at a standard rate of 10p per A4 side of paper (black and white copy) and 30p per A4 side of paper (colour copy).

Computer discs will be charged at the rate of £1.00 per CD-Rom.

Postage cost:
We will pass on postage charges to the requester at the cost to the authority of sending the information by first class post.


7. OUR COPYRIGHT POLICY
 

Sabhal Mòr Ostaig holds the copyright for the vast majority of information in this publication scheme.  All of this information can be copied or reproduced without our formal permission, provided it is copied or reproduced accurately, is not used in a misleading context, and provided that the source of the material is identified.

The publication scheme may, however, contain information where the copyright holder is not Sabhal Mòr Ostaig. In most cases the copyright holder will be obvious from the documents.  In cases where the copyright is unclear, however, it is the responsibility of the person accessing the information to locate and seek the permission of the copyright holder before reproducing the material or in any other way breaching the rights of the copyright holder.  Wherever possible, this scheme will indicate where we do not own the copyright on documents within Section 12 'Classes of Information'.

Information about Crown copyright material is available on the website of the Queens Printer for Scotland at http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Government/queensprinterforscotland.  We can provide you with a copy of this information if you do not have internet access.


8. OUR RECORDS MANAGEMENT AND DISPOSAL POLICY
 

We are currently updating our records management policy.


9. FEEDBACK
 

FOISA requires that we review our publication scheme from time to time.  As a result, we welcome feedback on how we can develop our scheme further.  If you would to comment on any aspect of this publication scheme, then please contact us.  You may, for example wish to tell us about:

  • other information that you would like to see included in the scheme;
  • whether you found the scheme easy to use;
  • whether you found the publication scheme useful;
  • whether our staff were helpful;
  • other ways in which our publication scheme can be improved.

Please send any comments or suggestions to Christine Mackenzie on 01471 888 200


10. COMPLAINTS
 

Our aim is to make our publication scheme as user-friendly as possible, and we hope that you can access all the information we publish with ease.   If you do wish to complain about any aspect of the publication scheme, however, then please contact us, and we will try and resolve your complaint as quickly as possible.  You can contact:

Christine Mackenzie
Sabhal Mòr Ostaig
Teangue
Isle of Skye
IV44 8RQ
Tel: 01471 888 200

Any complaint will be acknowledged within two working days of receipt and we will respond in full within twenty working days.

You have legal rights to access information under this scheme and a right of appeal to the Scottish Information Commissioner if you are dissatisfied with our response.  These rights apply only to information requests made in writing* or another recordable format.  If you are unhappy with our responses to your request you can ask us to review it and if you are still unhappy, you can make an appeal to the Scottish Information Commissioner.

The Commissioner's website has a guide to this three step process, and he operates an enquiry service on Monday to Friday from 9:00am to 5:00pm.  His office can be contacted as follows:

Scottish Information Commissioner
Kinburn Castle
Doubledykes Road
St Andrews
Fife
KY16 9DS

Tel:              01334 464610
Email:           enquiries@itspublicknowledge.info
Website:        www.itspublicknowledge.info

*verbal requests for environmental information carry similar rights.


11. HOW TO ACCESS INFORMATION WHICH IS NOT AVAILABLE UNDER THIS SCHEME
 

If the information you are seeking is not available under this publication scheme, then you may wish to request it from us.  The Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA) provides you with a right of access to the information we hold, subject to certain exemptions.  The Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004 (EIRs) separately provide a right of access to the environmental information we hold, while the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA) provides a right of access to any personal information about you that we hold. Again, these rights are subject to certain exceptions or exemptions.

Should you wish to request a copy of any information that we hold that is not available under this scheme, please write to Christine Mackenzie, Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, Teangue, Isle of Skye, IV44 8RQ.  

Charges for information which is not available under the scheme:
The charges for information which is available under this scheme are set out under section 6 'Our Charging Policy'.  If you submit a request to us for information which is not available under the scheme the charges will be based on the following calculations:

General information requests:

  • There will be no charge for information requests which cost us £100 or less to process.
  • Where information costs between £100 and £600 to provide you may be asked to pay 10% of the cost. That is, if you were to ask for information that cost us £600 to provide, you would be asked to pay £50, calculated on the basis of a waiver for the first £100 and 10% of the remaining £500.
  •  We are not obliged to respond to requests which will cost us over £600 to process.
  • In calculating any fee, staff time will be calculated at actual cost per staff member hourly salary rate to a maximum of £15 per person per hour.
  • We do not charge for the time to determine whether we hold the information requested, nor for the time it takes to decide whether the information can be released. Charges may be made for locating, retrieving and providing information to you.
  • In the event that we decide to impose a charge we will issue you with notification of the charge (a fees notice) and how it has been calculated. You will have three months from the date of issue of the fees notice in which to decide whether to pay the charge. The information will be provided to you on payment of the charge. If you decide not to proceed with the request there will be no charge to you.

Charges for environmental information:
We do not charge for the time to determine whether we hold the information requested, nor for the time it takes to decide whether the information can be released. Charges may be made for locating, retrieving and providing information to you.

In the event that we decide to impose a charge we will issue you with notification of the charge and how it has been calculated. The information will be provided to you on payment of the charge. If you decide not to proceed with the request there will be no charge to you.

Charges are calculated on the basis of the actual cost to the authority of providing the information.

  • Photocopying is charged at 10p per A4 sheet for black and white copying, 30p per A4 sheet for colour copying.
  • Postage is charged at actual rate for first class mail.
  • Staff time is calculated at actual cost per staff member hourly salary rate to a maximum of £15 per person per hour.

The first £100 worth of information will be provided to you without charge.

Where information costs between £100 and £600 to provide you will be asked to pay 10% of the cost. That is, if you were to ask for information that cost us £600 to provide, you would be asked to pay £50, that calculated on the basis of a waiver for the first £100 and 10% of the remaining £500.

Where it would cost more than £600 to provide the information to you, however, we will ask you to pay the full cost of providing the information, with no waiver for any portion of the cost.

Requests for your own personal data:
Charges are calculated on the basis of the actual cost to the authority of providing the information.

  • Photocopying is charged at 10p per A4 sheet for black and white copying, 30p per A4 sheet for colour copying.
  • Postage is charged at actual rate for first class mail.
  • Staff time is calculated at actual cost per staff member hourly salary rate to a maximum of £15 per person per hour.