Academic Registry

Academic confidentiality

Academic confidentiality

Our Maintaining Academic Confidentiality Policy (see policy link below) sets out how we will promote and support you to maintain academic confidentiality during learning activities and the completion of academic work.

As an employment-focused institution providing skills-based education and industry-relevant opportunities through the curriculum, Buckinghamshire New University expects all learners to maintain confidentiality during their studies.

What is Academic Confidentiality and why is it important?

Confidentiality, as an aspect of academic integrity, applies to all subject areas and involves the protection of personal, technical and/or commercial information of a sensitive nature, irrespective of format.

Information of a sensitive nature is that which should be protected from public access or unwarranted disclosure in order to maintain information security of an individual or organisation and cause no harm.

It is the responsibility of you, the learner, to maintain and manage confidentiality where appropriate and to seek advice from a member of the course team such as the course director/programme lead, module lead, seminar lead or marker and mentors, supervisors, and assessors in placements if you are unclear. 

What is a breach of Academic Confidentiality?

Academic Confidentiality is intended to protect individuals and organisations from harm where there is a potential risk. It will not prevent you from being able to engage in meaningful learning and authentic assessment.

Your course team will ensure the expectations are proportionate to each programme, discipline, or any relevant professional codes or standards.

A breach of Academic Confidentiality is the inclusion of personal data, technical or commercial information such as names and addresses, identification numbers or images, that would allow an individual, organisation, or area to be identified and where consent has not been sought for that purpose or the information is not already in the public domain during learning activities or the completion of academic work, this includes paper, digital, online, audio, and visual outputs.

How to maintain Academic Confidentiality?

The following information will help you manage some of the underlying challenges that often lead to a breach.

  • Learn about referencing conventions: Referencing conventions differ between whether information is in the public domain or not. Please access cite them right, your school or programme referencing guides or speak to a member of your Programme Team or the Student Learning and Achievement Team 
  • Follow the instructions: Make sure that you listen to and follow all ground rules set for in-person or online teaching, and you read your Programme Handbook and Assessment Brief carefully to ensure that you understand the expectations.

Some key principles to follow:

  • Use pseudonyms (which should be identified as such) and/or generalised terms e.g., Service user X or Paramedic 1.
  • Remove any sensitive information unless it is already in the public domain, you have consent, or are required to include it.
  • Avoid the inclusion of documentation, either original or photocopied, that might reveal the identity of an individual or organisation in any submitted work.
  • Ensure that you are aware of and complete as required Non-disclosure agreements (NDAs), Model Release Forms,  Statements of Confidentiality or Declaration of Good Character/Suitability for your course of study.

There are a number of resources to support you:

  • The Maintaining Academic Confidentiality policy (link below)
  • Your Programme team (tutors and lecturers) should be able to advise you regarding your course of study
  • Your Programme Handbook should contain key information relevant to your course of study
  • The Student Learning and Achievement Team can work with you to develop your academic ability through 1:1 tutorials and workshops.
  • Practical Recipes for Student Success are a series of BNU-produced video tutorials covering academic writing and referencing (available on the Student Learning and Achievement Blackboard Organisation).

If there is a concern regarding a breach of academic confidentiality...

  • Where a staff member may have concerns of a breach of confidentiality, they will raise this with you at the earliest appropriate opportunity and meet with you to ensure you clearly understand the expected standard of behaviour.  
  • If the breach is identified on academic work, this will be highlighted, and feedback provided. It is possible your work may lose marks, hence why it is important you to read the Assessment Brief carefully which should contain the marking grid for that piece of work.
  • Your personal tutor and/or apprenticeship partnership manager will be informed of any breaches so that can provide you with any support or advice that you may need.
  • Depending on the severity of the breach or if there are repeated breaches your personal tutor and/or apprenticeship partnership manager will discuss this with the Associate/Deputy Head of School to review whether the criteria for Fitness to Practise Procedures have been met.

For independent advice and guidance on the process you can also contact the Students’ Union Advice Centre.


Useful Documents

Maintaining Academic Confidentiality Policy