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Guidelines Disclosure of Student Personal Information to Third Parties

Guidelines – Disclosure of Student Personal Information to Third Parties

The Alberta Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy (FOIP) Act, R.S.A. 2000, c. F-25 defines personal information as recorded information about an identifiable individual, including but not limited to:

  • the individual's name, home or business address, or home or business telephone number
  • the individual's race, national or ethnic origin, color, or religious or political beliefs or associations
  • the individual's age, sex, marital status or family status
  • an identifying number, symbol or other particular assigned to the individual
  • the individual's fingerprints, other biometric information, blood type, genetic information, or inheritable characteristics
  • information about the individual's health and health care history, including information about a physical or mental disability
  • information about the individual's educational, financial, employment or criminal history, including criminal records where a pardon has been given
  • anyone else's opinion about the individual
  • the individual's personal views or opinions, except if they are about someone else.
Section 40 (1) of the FOIP Act lists the only circumstances under which Athabasca University (AU) may disclose personal information. This is reflected in the Student Confidential Policy: Office of the Registrar.

Section 40 enables disclosure; it does not require disclosure.

The following guidelines are to assist AU employees to make appropriate disclosure decisions.

You may disclose a student's personal information to a third party if the disclosure is not an unreasonable invasion of the student's personal privacy. The following information is considered not to be an unreasonable invasion of a student's personal privacy:

  • admission to AU
  • enrolled in a particular program
  • received an honour or award (including a degree, diploma, or certificate)
  • attended or participated in a public event or activity related to AU
  • graduated from AU
  • if already available in the public domain.
However, if a student has requested AU not disclose any or all of the information above, then AU must make reasonable security arrangements to accommodate this request.

You may disclose a student's personal information to a third party if the student has consented, in writing, to the disclosure. The following situations may apply:

  • reference letters to potential employers or admission to a graduate program
  • acknowledgment letter to an employer that the student has successfully completed the course/program
  • reference letter to another institution acknowledging that the student has been admitted to AU and is entitled to services offered by that institution under a contractual agreement.

You may disclose a student's personal information to a third party if the disclosure is authorized under Section 40 of the FOIP Act. Some common situations are

  • for the purpose for which the information was collected or compiled
  • for a use consistent with the purpose for which it was collected or compiled
  • for any purpose in accordance with an enactment of Alberta or Canada that authorizes or requires the disclosure
  • for the purpose of complying with a subpoena, warrant or order issued or made by a court, person or body that has the jurisdiction to produce such an item
  • to an officer or employee of AU if the information is necessary for the performance of his or her duties
  • for the purpose of enforcing a legal right that AU has against any person
  • for the purpose of collecting a fine or debt owing by the individual to AU
  • for the purpose of determining or verifying an individual's suitability or eligibility for a program or benefit
  • for audit purposes
  • for the purpose of complying with a collective agreement
  • for the purpose of contacting the spouse, relative or friend of an injured, ill, or deceased student
  • to an expert for the purposes of protecting the individual or public from harm.

Consult Section 40 of the FOIP Act for a complete list of authorities.


Office of the University Secretariat, July 2006

Updated May 30 2014 by Office of the University Secretariat

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