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Sunday, August 12, 2007

Victorian university exam papers and marking guides not exempt

It looks as if it came as something of a surprise to the University of Melbourne to discover that provisions of the Victorian Freedom of Information Act are a bit different from those in the Federal and other state FOI legislation when it comes to seeking to protect marking guides and examination papers.

In McKean v University of Melbourne (2007) VCAT1310, the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal found that an examination paper and marking guides for two University examinations were not exempt from disclosure. The key issue when it came to the marking guides, was that the relevant provision of the Act provided for exemption where the use of the document for the purpose for which it was prepared, had not been completed. Once the exam was over, there was no grounds for claiming exemption.

In other Australian jurisdictions the legislation usually includes an exemption where disclosure would prejudice the effectiveness of procedures or measures for the conduct of examinations, and include a public interest test.

The Tribunal said that the University's arguments for exemption would have cut some ice elsewhere, but were not relevant given the provisions of the Victorian Act.

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