University of Ibadan SRC Writes An Open Letter to The Vice Chancellor - Leystradamus.Com.Ng


Wednesday, January 13, 2016

University of Ibadan SRC Writes An Open Letter to The Vice Chancellor

Still on the issue of leakage of students' results, the Legislative Arm of the Student's Union, University of Ibadan, writes a letter to The Vice Chancellor.
11 January 2016

The Vice Chancellor
University of Ibadan
The Dean of Students
Students’ Affairs Division
University of Ibadan

Dear Sir,
We hereby write to bring to your notice the incessant leakage of students' results to the public domain. This, we condemn in strong terms and we consequently demand that the University Management look into the situation and put up measures to prevent a future occurrence of this breach.

"Book of Life" as it is fondly called amongst the students is a document detailing the names, department, faculties, level and CGPA/GPA of all students in the University of Ibadan used in the consideration of students' result by Faculty Board of Examiners and the school Senate. A document primarily meant to be "strictly confidential" and not public but which always mysteriously or miraculously eventually gets leaked to the public thereby affording unauthorised possession and access before the official release of such results via approved and recognised mediums of collection and access by the students.

Following the transition of the University's Senate from hardcopy to electronic assessment of the students' results few years ago, the "Book of Life" situation has taken a different dimension with the leakage now going beyond the citadel to the online sphere where virtually anybody with access to the internet can download and have access to this confidential document (now in PDF format) containing academic information of all University of Ibadan students.

The implications of these annual leakages are numerous. The leakage largely questions the administrative and security competence of the University Management as no excuse is likely to be genuine enough to avail the University of that Liability thereby casting a negative shadow over the strenuous efforts of over 67 years that have gone into building of the premier image. This damage, as grave as it may seems may still be less compared to the harm that might come to students as a result of the leakage of their results and other personal data online which in turn may be used by Hackers and other evil-minded individuals through social engineering to have access to more unauthorised data on individuals. When this happens, it may lead to psycho emotional and economical harm.

And finally, breach of students' private records is an act that may give rise to liabilities in a civil action. As a matter of fact, section 14 of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011 provides accordingly:

14. (1) Subject to subsection (2), a public institution must deny an application for information that contains personal information and information exempted under this subsection includes –
(a) files and personal information maintained with respect to clients, patients, residents, students, or other individuals receiving social, medical, educational, vocation, financial, supervisory or custodial care or services directly or indirectly from public institutions;
(b) personnel files and personal information maintained with respect to employees, appointees or elected officials of any public institution or applicants for such positions;
(c) files and personal information maintained with respect to any applicant, registrant or licensee by any government or public institution cooperating with or engaged in professional or occupational registration, licensure or discipline;
(d) information required of any tax payer in connection with the assessment or collection of any tax unless disclosure is otherwise requested by the statute; and
(e) information revealing the identity of persons who file complaints with or provide information to administrative, investigative, law enforcement or penal agencies on the commission of any crime.
(2) A public institution shall disclose any information that contains personal information if -
(a) the individual to whom it relates consents to the disclosure; or
(b) the information is publicly available
(3) Where disclosure of any information referred to in this section would be in the public interest, and if the public interest in the disclosure of such information clearly outweighs the protection of the privacy of the individual to whom such information relates, the public institution to whom request for disclosure is made shall disclose such information subject to Section 14 (2) of this Act.

According to this national law sir, these students' result and other information escaping to the public should not be so unless the students consent to such disclosure or the information is publicly available and it is obvious that these two requirements are largely unsatisfied.

Sir, at this point, it is somewhat needless to request for evidence of the leakage before taking appropriate actions because such is written everywhere. Apart from the fact that the "Book of life" is a popular and common topic of discussion on the social media like Facebook, Twitter and Instant Messaging applications like WhatsApp and BBM, throwing relevant search queries like "Book of Life University of Ibadan" into Google will bring up search results that will surprise you to know the extent to which a "strictly confidential" document has evolved for public consumption. And it is highly sardonic that any investigation launched into the leakage would definitely reveal sources close to the University's dons and officials in charge of the administration of these data.

Notwithstanding this, we are progressively minded. While the past is gone, we believe that necessary measures should be put in place to forestall a future occurrence just as Faculty Boards and the Senate will be meeting in few days time. And on this note, after much deliberation by the Students’ Representatives, the Council hereby demand the following:

That necessary measure should be put in place to prevent future breach/leakage results and other students’ data as a result of concerned officials' negligence, mistake or deliberateness.

That the approved and official mediums like the Parent Portal and others should be enhanced for efficiency and effectiveness purpose such that students and parents can readily access their individual results immediately after the Senate consideration.

That the University should come up with a policy that clearly states its position as regards the protection of students' records, enunciating students' right to privacy and the University's obligations just like it has done with the Gender, Sexual Harassment, ICT, Institutional HIV/AIDS and Intellectual Property policies.

Thanks for your anticipated cooperation.

Yours faithfully,

Rt. Hon. Arogundade Toheeb
(Speaker SRC)

Hon Eferoro Emmanuel
(Clerk, SRC)

The Senate, University of Ibadan
The Registry, University of Ibadan
Students’ Union Executives, University of Ibadan
Union of Campus Journalists, University of Ibadan

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