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Access to Information and Records


 Table of Contents


Most requests received by VIU are for information that is not confidential or sensitive.  These are called routine requests.  Faculty and staff should make every reasonable effort to respond to routine requests.

Requests for records that may contain confidential or sensitive information are called Freedom of Information (FOI) requests.  These requests are processed at the Office of the University Secretariat.

An applicant may request access not only to records containing personal information about him/her, but may also request access to general records of the University.  The FIPPA requires VIU to release requested records, subject to limited exceptions.

FOI requests may be subject to a copying fee as well as an hourly fee for any time spent beyond three hours, locating and retrieving records. A fee cannot be charged, however, for access to personal information.

How to Make a Freedom of Information Request

1. All requests must be submitted in writing, which may include letters, faxes, and emails.

2. Requests for the applicant’s own personal information must be signed by the applicant (electronic or photocopied signatures are not acceptable) and must specify:

    • the type of personal information requested; and,
    • the date on which the consent is effective and, if applicable, the date on which the consent expires.

Requests should include the following contact information for the applicant:

    • current legal name;
    • address;
    • day-time telephone number; and,
    • email address.

3. Requests for third party personal information must be accompanied by the signed authorization of the third party (electronic or photocopied signatures are not acceptable) to release his or her information to the applicant.  This authorization must specify:

    • to whom the personal information may be disclosed;
    • the personal information for which the third party is providing consent for disclosure;
    • the date on which the consent is effective and, if applicable, the date on which the consent expires; and,
    • the purpose of the disclosure of the information.

Request for information should be submitted on a Request Form for Access to VIU Records.

4. The request must be for access to records (recorded information).  “Records” include all recorded information in paper and electronic form. For example:

    • emails, spreadsheets and other electronic documents;
    • letters, memos, reports, newsletters, draft documents;
    • calendars, agendas, minutes; and,
    • handwritten notes, journals, sticky notes, photographs, videos, and sound recordings including voicemail messages.

5. FOI requests must provide sufficient detail to enable an experienced employee of VIU, 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.

6.  Not all information must be released in response to an FOI request. The OUS may redact (black out) information if it falls under any of the “exceptions to disclosure” listed in the FIPPA. For example, information may be withheld if its disclosure would:

    • unreasonably invade a third party’s privacy;
    • harm VIU’s financial interests;
    • reveal advice or recommendations; or,
    • harm somebody’s safety or the security of a facility or system.

7. Send requests to:

The Office of the University Secretariat
Vancouver Island University
900 Fifth Street
Nanaimo, BC V9R 5S5

Fax:  250.740.6555


Commonly Requested Records

1. Student Academic Records

If you need to make an FOI request for student academic or educational records, VIU 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 the Registration and Admissions.

If you require any records other than the student transcript, you must request them from the Office of the University Secretariat by completing a Request for Access to VIU Records and providing the following details:

    • the specific records requested 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 VIU’s records;
    • VIU Student Number;
    • date of birth;
    • degree(s) achieved and/or program attended;
    • status (undergraduate, graduate, continuing studies, etc.); and,
    • an authorization signed by the student.

2. Employment Records       

Faculty and staff members can make a routine access request to review their personnel files at Human Resources.  You must include your employee number; however, it is not necessary to include your Social Insurance Number.

3. Non-personal Records     

As VIU is authorized to recover costs for the time taken in the search and reproduction of non-personal records, it is advantageous to make a request as specific and concise as possible; i.e. identify the records by type, relevant dates, and possible locations.

FOI Request Procedure

1. Request is received by the Office of the University Secretariat (OUS).

2. The request is entered into the request log and assigned a file number and the reply deadline (30 business days) is noted.

3. A letter of acknowledgement is sent to the applicant. Any required additional information is also requested 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.

4. Departments are contacted to search, prepare, and send the requested records to the OUS.

5. Upon receiving the records, the University Secretary goes through the records and determines if any information should be removed from the records in accordance with the Act.

6. Material is prepared for release and 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 VIU’s decision by the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner.

Fees  (FIPPA, Section 75)

An applicant who makes a request for information may be required to pay fees for the following services:          

    • locating, retrieving and producing the record;
    • preparing the record for disclosure;
    • shipping and handling the record;
    • providing a copy of the record.

However, fees are not charged for:

    1. the first 3 hours spent locating and retrieving a record, or
    2. time spent severing information from a record.
    3. a request for an applicant’s own personal information.

The fee schedule to access information from Vancouver Island University is:

Costs will be calculated to the nearest quarter hour - sixty dollars ($60) per hour for the services described above.

If an applicant is required to pay a fee for services, VIU:

    1. must give the applicant a written estimate of the total fee before providing the service, and
    2. may require the applicant to pay a deposit.

Fees may be waived if, in VIU’s opinion:

    1. the applicant cannot afford the payment or
    2. the record relates to a matter of public interest, including the environment or public health or safety.

Time Limit for Responding

VIU must submit a response to a request for information not later than 30 days after receiving the request. This requirement does not apply if the time limit is extended or the request is transferred to another public body.

Extending the Time Limit for Responding

The time limit for responding to a request for information  may be extended for up to 30 days if one or more of the following apply:

    1. the applicant does not give enough detail to enable VIU to identify a requested record;
    2. a large number of records are requested or must be searched and meeting the time limit would unreasonably interfere with the operations of VIU;
    3. more time is needed to consult with a third party or other public body before VIU can decide whether or not to give the applicant access to a requested record;
    4. the applicant has consented in the prescribed manner, to the extension.