At Students4Change we aim to empower you with the tools to make change and effective activism. An FOI request allows you to request any data from any public body, even data considered confidential. It is free and legal right enshrined in the 2014 FOI Act.
For example, we have used an FOI request before to expose Trinity’s 2.5 million euro investments in the war-industry.
It is a very powerful tool as it allows you to gather data. For example, most students would feel that a refund for last year is a fair demand, as online College was disengaging and it made no sense to pay so much money for it.
However, to prove this, statistics are needed. For example, from the big SUrvey from last year we know that 71.4% did not feel part of the College community in 2020-2021 due to online learning, which suggests that the student experience was greatly reduced. From an FOI request, we also know that the total number of students (both undergraduate and postgraduate) who withdrew in the academic year 2020/21 during the pandemic was 1,231 (higher than previous years) December 2020, further supporting this argument. This can then be packaged into e.g. a report or a press release which supports refunds.
Some other examples of FOIs requests that we have done:
- To discover that Trinity’s use of the RDS for exams costs them 0.5 million euros.
- That the number of students with overdue tuition debt last March was 506.
- That there are only 180 academics with Non-EEA nationality as of May 2020 in College… etc.
To make an FOI request for Trinity College Dublin, you have to fill out a PDF form, which you can do online, and then you have to send on this form to the email address [email protected] .
Here is a link to the FOI request PDF form, and here is a link to an online PDF editor called Smallpdf. When making our FOI request for Trinity’s investments, for example, this is how we filled it out.
It is a similar process in other Universities, like for University College Dublin. There the email is [email protected] and the form can be found here.
The same investment FOI as a filled-out example can be downloaded here.
Here is a PDF of all FOI contacts for third-level institutions in Ireland.
- Be as precise as possible and specific. When asking for documents, use as many identifiers as possible (e.g. I would like to respectfully request a document made on XYZ called XYZ from College).
- Be aware of the possibility of appealing internally and appealing to the Information Commissioner (these both cost money).
- Feel free to reach out to us for help at con[email protected] if you have an idea for an FOI request.
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