Publish, publish, publish

February 25, 2010

Times Higher Education recently noted that the University of Central Lancashire spent more than £80,000 trying to prevent its homeopathy course material from being exposed ("Hush money", 18 February). In the same issue, Paul Marshall discussed the information afforded to applicants entering higher education ("A student's right to know").

When we come to reconcile these issues, it is worth noting that an incoming Conservative government may weaken the academy with large funding cuts and repeal the Human Rights Act 1998, replacing it with a "British Bill of Rights", but would be unlikely to repeal the Freedom of Information Act 2000 - chiefly because it has "freedom" in its short title. The press, one hopes, would not stand for it. MPs should note that it was not FoI that leaked the worst details of their expenses - ultimately, it was The Daily Telegraph that stoked public opinion.

Uclan is to be applauded in some small way for attempting to gain a PR victory by way of its appeal to the Information Tribunal, but the increasingly competitive higher education sector and the entrenchment of the FoI Act mean that institutions must take the first-mover advantage available to them.

When it comes to information regarding degrees, modules, reading lists and so forth - as long as there aren't third-party intellectual property or data protection issues - they should publish, publish, publish.

Jamie Grace, Lecturer in law, School of Law and Criminology, University of Derby.

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