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Data protection and higher education

As data controllers, universities are responsible for the personal data they hold on staff, students and third parties, and the way that data is processed. 

The effective use of data is being seen and used as a business-critical asset by higher education institutions (HEIs). However, the regulatory landscape is also highly complex. A data breach can have a devastating effect on a university with the prospect of significant fines being imposed by the Information Commissioners Office (ICO), payment of compensation to affected data subjects, reputational damage and criminal prosecutions. 

Our team of highly experienced data protection and information law experts has the in-depth knowledge and experience to help universities utilise data to support their business objectives as well as assisting them in remaining fully compliant at all times and supporting them in the event of a data breach or other misuse of private or confidential information. 

What we offer 

We advise on the full spectrum of information law issues including: 

  • Drafting and reviewing UK GDPR compliant contracts, service agreements, licensing agreements, privacy policies and notices, data processing agreements, and cookie notices 
  • Ensuring responses to Freedom of Information (FOI) requests comply with current information law  
  • Advising on data subject rights requests including subject access requests 
  • Data transfers across borders 
  • Advising on data breaches and unlawful uses of personal information including breach of confidence 
  • Advising on cyber security including dealing with ransomware and other attacks 
  • Dealing with complaints to, and investigations by the ICO and Office for Students 
  • Advising on reputational management 
  • Carrying out data protection audits 
  • Carrying out internal investigations 
  • Bespoke training on information law  

Why choose Browne Jacobson? 

With bases in London, Birmingham, Manchester, Exeter, Dublin and our founding city of Nottingham, and links across the globe, we’re a national law firm with international reach. You’ll be able to access subject-specialist, leading lawyers who will draw upon their expertise of high-profile cases to advise you. Our experts in the higher education sector work closely with colleagues in the information law team to provide seamless assistance to institutions as needed. 

Featured experience

A higher education institute

Assisted a HEI in defending an appeal in the First Tier Tribunal against the refusal of a FOI request relating to its testing processes and bringing a cross-appeal in relation to the disclosure ordered by the Information Commissioner. 

A higher education institute

Assisted a HEI in relation to breach of confidence proceedings against a student who wrongfully accessed personal data of other students and refused to return or delete it. 

A higher education institute

Successfully defended a HEI against a data breach claim arising from its disclosure of information about a student to the Office for Students. 


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