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Access to Information

Overview

We are committed to the principles of openness and transparency in our work and seek to publish – in an accessible form – as much information about our functions, decisions and operations as is reasonably possible.

All of our publications can be made available in large print or Braille for those with visual disabilities, and can be provided in a variety of languages, including Gaelic. Both of these services are free of charge and are available by contacting the Communications team, tel: 0131 313 6500 or email: communications@sfc.ac.uk.

Tha sinn a’ cur fàilte air co-sgrìobhadh Gàidhlig agus nì sinn ar dìcheall freagairt innte, le bhith a’ toirt fios-freagairt an ceann 20 latha cosnaidh.

Freedom of Information

The Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA) and Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004 (EISR) give members of the public a general right of access to all types of recorded information held by Scottish public authorities. Two of the main features are a general right to receive information that we hold, subject to certain exemptions.

FOISA requires every Scottish public authority to adopt and maintain a Publication Scheme, and publish information in accordance with that scheme.

The SFC Publication Scheme [PDF] explains:

  • What information is published by SFC.
  • The manner in which the information is published.
  • Whether the information is available free of charge and, if not, what charges apply.
  • How to request information that is not covered by the Scheme.

We are committed to publishing as much information as possible as part of our Publication Scheme.

If you cannot find the information you require or a document has an exemption you should send a written request to:

Information Management and Governance Officer
Scottish Funding Council
Apex 2, 97 Haymarket Terrace
Edinburgh
EH12 5HD

Tel: 0131 313 6566
Email: info@sfc.ac.uk

We will reply to your information request as soon as possible and no later than 20 working days.

When making a request you must include the name of the applicant and an address for correspondence. An email address is sufficient when you are asking for information.

However, if you send your request by email, you must give your name in the body of the email to fulfil the requirement that the name of the applicant is given. Even if your name appears in your email address (e.g. john.smith@email.com) you must add your name to the text of your request, so that it is clear who the email is from.

You must give your real name, as the public authority does not have to answer your request if you have used a false name or pseudonym. The Commissioner will not be able to carry out an investigation if you have used a false name. If you have particular reasons for not wanting to reveal your identity to the public authority, you should ask a friend or family member to make the request for information.

Assistance on making a request

When making a request for information it important that it is clear what information you are asking for. If a request is not clear, we will probably need to ask you to clarify your request which will cause a delay in you receiving the information you are looking for.

Freedom of information provides the right to recorded information rather than answering questions or responding to statements about SFC’s work. It is therefore useful if your request is framed around what information you want to access.

If possible it is also useful if you can break your request down using numbers or bullet points to show where you are requesting more than one piece of information.

More information on how to make a good request is available on the Scottish Information Commissioner’s website.

Data protection

The EU General Data Protection Regulation and UK Data Protection Act 2018 set out rules for processing personal information and applies to all personal data that the Scottish Funding Council holds.

Data protection legislation gives individuals certain rights including access to personal information that SFC holds on them. For more information on your data subject right please see our Privacy Notice.

Our Data Protection policy [PDF] sets out the requirements for processing our personal data safely and correctly in accordance with Data Protection Law.

To exercise your information rights please write to:

Information Management and Governance Officer
Scottish Funding Council
Apex 2, 97 Haymarket Terrace
Edinburgh
EH12 5HD

Tel: 0131 313 6566&
Email: info@sfc.ac.uk

You may need to provide adequate proof of identity such as a copy of a utility bill, drivers licence, passport or birth certificate. The standard of identity check will be proportionate to the data you have requested from us.

Please try to be as clear as possible about the information you are seeking. For example, if it is your personal data as an ex-employee then please provide the dates of your employment.

You will receive a response from us within one calendar month. However, exemptions to disclosure may apply in some circumstances. Data protection legislation allows for the one calendar month deadline to be extended by a further two months where the request is particularly complex.

You can find more guidance on accessing your personal data from the UK Information Commissioner’s website.

If you require any assistance completing your freedom of information request or data subject rights request or would like to discuss the information we hold with a member of staff, please contact our Information Management and Governance Officer, tel: 0131 313 6566.

Records Management Plan

The Public Records (Scotland) Act 2011 requires SFC and other public authorities to prepare and implement a Records Management Plan (RMP). The RMP sets out proper arrangements for the management of records. The plan is agreed with the Keeper of the Records of Scotland and reviewed on a biennial basis.

The SFC Records Management Plan was developed in 2014 and is based on the Keeper’s published Model Records Plan and relates to records throughout their lifecycle, from creation and acquisition to archive and destruction .

For more information about the Public Records (Scotland) Act 2011, visit the National Records of Scotland website.

Equality and Diversity

Overview

Equality ensures that everyone is treated fairly, regardless of difference, and is given the opportunity to fulfil their potential in life. For SFC, this means making equality central to our policy development, decision making and delivery to support colleges and universities, their staff and students, and to improve life chances for all.

Tackling persistent inequalities together

SFC and the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) are working together to enhance our leadership and oversight role in tackling persistent inequalities in the tertiary system.

This report, Tackling persistent inequalities together [PDF], outlines the persistent inequalities in the tertiary system and asks institutions to address them by contributing to a set of National Equality Outcomes (NEOs) as part of their Public Sector Equality Duty. It also confirms a new SFC Strategic Equality Outcome and requests notes of interest for a collaborative event to be held later in the academic year to enable wider discussion.

Our duties

The Equality Act 2010 requires us to deliver on the Public Sector Equality Duty. SFC adheres to the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s Scotland-specific advice and guidance.

In partnership

To help us advance equality and diversity, we work closely with the Equality Unit and Sponsorship Teams in the Scottish Government, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) and other partners in the Non-departmental Public Bodies Equality Forum to strengthen our approach.

Memorandum of understanding (MoU) between SFC and the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC)

Through this MoU, SFC and EHRC will establish National Equality Outcomes (NEOs) for the tertiary education sector and support Scotland’s colleges and universities to meet the requirements and achieve the aspirations of the Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED).

Equality and Diversity progress reports

To comply with the Equality Act 2010, we report on progress to deliver our equality outcomes both externally, supporting the colleges and universities that we fund, and internally.

Complaints

Complaints against SFC

We are committed to being an open and transparent organisation which operates to the highest standards of public sector administration and management. However, we recognise that occasionally things may go wrong.

If you are dissatisfied with our performance, then we want to give you the opportunity to raise the matter with us. We will do our best to respond to your concern and if we have made a mistake, acknowledge this and put things right.

If you are dissatisfied with any aspect of our performance or operation, you may wish to discuss the issue informally in the first instance with our Assistant Director – Strategy who will consider whether it is possible to rectify the situation to your satisfaction without the need to make a formal complaint. The contact details are given below.

Scottish Funding Council
Apex 2
97 Haymarket Terrace
Edinburgh
EH12 5HD

Tel: 0131 313 6645
Email: enquiries@sfc.ac.uk

Tha sinn a’ cur fàilte air co-sgrìobhadh Gàidhlig agus nì sinn ar dìcheall freagairt innte, le bhith a’ toirt fios-freagairt an ceann 20 latha cosnaidh.

If you decide to make a formal complaint, see the SFC complaints procedure.

Complaints against colleges and universities

If you wish to make a complaint about a college or university you should use the college or university’s own complaints procedure in the first instance.

Complaints which cannot be resolved using procedures available within the college or university can be taken to the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO).

Environmental sustainability and diversity

Overview

The Scottish Funding Council is obliged to meet carbon reporting, climate change mitigation and adaptation statutory requirements each year. We do this in a number of ways including in our Annual Report and Accounts.

Scotland's Climate Change Plan Update 2018-2032

The Scottish Government published its Climate Change Act Plan Update in December 2020 which reflects the increased ambition of the new targets to reduce Greenhouse Gas emissions set in the Climate Change (Emissions Reduction Targets) (Scotland) Act 2019.

The Scottish Government’s climate adaptation programme Climate Ready Scotland: climate change adaptation programme 2019-2024 provides key adaptation context for the activities of public bodies. The Scottish Government has publicly committed to producing a new climate change plan in 2023, and a new climate change adaptation programme for 2024.

SFC Carbon Management Plan: Our Net Zero Challenge

As a key national funding body for further and higher education, as an employer and as a corporate citizen, SFC has an important part to play in the climate emergency response.

We published our strategic net zero route map in November 2022, SFC’s Net Zero & Sustainability Framework for Action [PDF]. This plan, our Net Zero Challenge [PDF], acts as our current carbon management plan and commits us to reducing our own emissions and embedding climate-positive practices throughout our activities and operations.

SFC’s Climate Change Duties Report

SFC reports on its climate change duties in line with the Scottish Government’s published guidance, and reflecting on good practice and advice from the Sustainable Scotland Network, public sector peers and benchmarking to good practice developments arising from the tertiary education sector.

SFC Biodiversity Duty Report

The Nature Conservation (Scotland) Act 2004 (as amended by the Wildlife and Natural Environment (Scotland) Act 2011) requires public bodies to report at least every three years on the actions which they have taken to meet their biodiversity duty – SFC Biodiversity Duty Report [PDF].

The Scottish Government’s Guidance for biodiversity duty reporting notes that bodies which do not own land and which do not have management of biodiversity as one of their main functions will probably encompass biodiversity activities within their wider environmental sustainability efforts.

Further Information

SFC’s response to the Climate Emergency involves all our functions (and staff across our organisation are contributing to that response). The Carbon Management Plan and carbon report referred to above give further details of internal cross Council structures and governance of our climate response.

SFC Strategic Plan 2022-27

Building a connected, agile, sustainable tertiary education and research system for Scotland.

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