UCL statement on allegations in the Independent
12 March 2016
In response to an article in the Independent, UCL would like to make clear that no disciplinary action has been taken and no student threatened with expulsion after accessing confidential information.
The student involved, Ms Pinnington, was made aware that any publication or passing to a third party of material downloaded in breach of regulations was a potential disciplinary matter, and agreed to comply with the regulations. At no point in either the letter sent to Ms Pinnington or in her meeting with Mr Knight was there any suggestion of expulsion, although the letter did set out the full range of penalties available in the disciplinary code. When Ms Pinnington met with Mr Knight, he made clear that he or Mr Grainger would be willing to be interviewed by Pi Media and that the interview questions could draw on material that had been accessed. It is therefore surprising that UCL has been accused of attempting to censor the student press.
Any suggestion that UCL's desire to protect confidential information is related to the annual accommodation surplus is completely false. It is no secret that UCL makes annual surpluses from rent income, all of which is reinvested. Surpluses from past students' rent have paid for the halls students live in today, and their rent will go on to support new developments for future students. This year 400 students are living in a new hall which has been funded by UCL, while 50 more are living in a new extension to existing accommodation. There is a continuous programme of refurbishment and new provision of halls to ensure that students will continue to benefit from rents that are significantly below those charged in the private sector. Far from being confidential, information on halls finances has been shared with the Student Union and the rent strikers.
We are concerned about the potential breach of confidential information as this may contain commercially sensitive files relating to new developments. A leak could compromise these projects, jeopardising our ability to provide affordable accommodation for future generations of students.