University of East Anglia inquiry into personal data breach

UEA campus Image copyright N Chadwick
Image caption The University of East Anglia emailed sensitive personal information about students to nearly 300 undergraduates

An independent inquiry has begun into how a university mistakenly emailed hundreds of students personal information about dozens of fellow undergraduates.

Details of health problems, family bereavements and personal issues were sent by the University of East Anglia (UEA) in Norwich to 298 students.

UEA has apologised "unreservedly".

It has now confirmed its auditors will begin an independent inquiry to "ensure it cannot be repeated".

Earlier this month it emerged an email was erroneously sent containing a spreadsheet listing 172 names and details of extenuating circumstances in which extensions and other academic concessions were granted to 42 students.

Image copyright UEA
Image caption An email was sent out after the error was discovered

The correspondence was sent to students on the university's American Studies course.

One of those whose details were included said she felt "sick and horrified" when she realised her information had been shared.

Vice-chancellor Prof David Richardson has now emailed students to say the UEA Council, the university's governing body, had "endorsed the commissioning of an independent inquiry".

It would "extend beyond the specific incident itself and cover areas such as the institution's systems, culture and management".

"I would like to reiterate my sincere apologies to anyone affected by the incident, and want to reassure you that we will take all steps necessary to improve the University's data handling processes going forward," he added.

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