Records Management: Frequently asked questions

What are records?

Records are documents, in any media, that have ongoing value to the University. They record actions and decisions taken, and the process by which those decisions were reached. Records may be used to inform future planning and decisions. They can also be evidential, e.g. providing proof of a transaction and its terms in the event of a dispute. They may also provide evidence of compliance with legal obligations or statutory requirements. Some records will have long-term value as archives.

Who owns the records?

If the records are created or received in the normal course of your work, they belong to the University!

How long do I need to keep records?

This depends on the type of record. Most records should only be kept to meet business requirements, and in general do not need to be kept for more that 6 years after they are no longer required. However, there are legal and/or regulatory requirements for some types of record to be kept longer. For example, some Health and Safety records must be retained for 40 years.The University’s Retention Schedules advise on how long to keep records. If you are unsure, contact a member of the HIG team.

Do I need to keep the records in my office or electronic filing system?

No, once they are no longer required in the course of your work, use the records retention schedules to see if they can be destroyed or should be transferred to HIG to be recorded in the University’s Records Centre database. After recording, the records will be stored securely and may be retrieved at any time by an authorised member of your team.

What happens then?

At the appropriate time, the HIG team will review and assess the value of the records and make recommendations for transfer to the University Archive for permanent retention, retention for a further period, or destruction of the record(s). We will let you know these recommendations and ask you to approve them, or request an extension, within an agreed deadline.

A colleague is leaving/retiring. Can they take their files with them?

If the files were created in the course of their day-to-day employment by the University, then no. The files belong to the University. Arrange a handover of the records to the relevant supervisor.  Find out more in our leaver management checklist.

If the files were created in a personal capacity, e.g. as a member of the Royal Society, then yes.

A colleague has left/retired. What do I do with their files?

Contact HIG in the first instance, and we will come to see you and assess the files for their value. If we decide that the files should be retained for a period, we will provide guidance on transferring the files to the Records Centre for secure storage, or retaining and preserving electronic records.

However, in many cases, we will decide that the information contained in the file(s) is of little or no value, and will advise on how to dispose of them safely and securely, either by using the University Confidential Waste disposal service or shredding on-site.

What should I do with old electronic records that I need to keep?

Records retention policies apply to records in all formats. If records have a retention span of less than five years, we recommend that you save them as read only or PDF copies onto a secure, centrally backed up in a protected area of your School or Service computer system.

If the records need to be kept for a longer period, or need to be kept for legal reasons, contact Heritage and Information Governance to arrange for digital curation and transfer into a central repository.

Key information

Anne Grzybowski