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McMaster University

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Link to PDF of all FAQs PDF


1. Can the University collect information about a third party from students (e.g. parent's education/date of birth)?

Apart from specific exemptions detailed in FIPPA s.39 (1)(collection of personal information), personal information should be collected from the individual to whom it relates, and not from a third party.

2. Can a faculty member ask a student for personal information?

Yes, but the faculty member must inform the student of the proposed use of the personal information.

3. Can student phone numbers and addresses be provided to instructors on class lists?

Not in the absence of consent. This information can be released only on a 'need to know' basis, not as a routine matter. An instructor may ask students for this information and outline the purpose for which it will be used.

4. In dealing with appeals, complaints and requests for refunds, information must be obtained on a student's attendance and/or performance. Can this collection from instructors continue under FIPPA?

Once the University receives your request and the application fee, you are generally entitled to a response within 30 calendar days.

While FIPPA provides a general right of access to university-held records of information, certain exemptions may apply. Exemptions are provisions in the Act that either permit or require an organization to deny access to requested record, in whole or in part, if specific requirements are met. In view of this, you may not receive everything that you request.

5. What about those students who registered this year, during the time frame when the Collection Notice has not indicated that student name, degree, Faculty and date of graduation would be public? Must their information be held confidential? [The normal registration period for the incoming first year students is the end of June. Fourth year students register at the beginning of June and the other years follow along throughout the month.]

If notice has not been given to students, then the University may not disclose such personal information without the consent of the students; however, these collection notices are now posted on the website and other information services on a forward going basis.

6. The Research Office for Administration, Development & Support (ROADS) collects information from corporate websites etc. about people in the industry (contact person etc.). Is this allowed under FIPPA?

Yes, such information is public information.

7. In other research contexts, the Research Office for Administration, Development & Support (ROADS) collects addresses and citizenship from participants. Is the general notice of collection sufficient to cover this or do we need individual signed consents?

The general notice is only applicable if the notice properly states the purpose for which the information is to be used. If the proposed use of the information is not in the general notice, then specific notice must be given at the time of collection stating the purpose of the collection.

If information is to be used for a purpose other than that stated in the notice at the time of collection, consent is required.


PLEASE NOTE: These Frequently Asked Questions are intended to provide general information only, not legal advice. Given the general nature of these questions, the materials herein cannot be entirely accurate, complete, reliable, or error-free in specific circumstances. Please refer specific questions in relation to your particular circumstances to the University Secretariat for specific responses.