Language school apologises as student data found in skip

Sensitive information including passport photocopies dumped on street

The Dublin College of Advanced Studies, Capel was contacted by the office of the Data Protection Commissioner and advised to remove certain files from a skip bag outside its premises.

The Dublin College of Advanced Studies, Capel was contacted by the office of the Data Protection Commissioner and advised to remove certain files from a skip bag outside its premises.

 

An English language school has apologised for “an oversight” after sensitive student data was discarded in a skip bag on the street.

The Dublin College of Advanced Studies, Capel Street, Dublin, was contacted on Thursday afternoon by the office of the Data Protection Commissioner, which had been notified of the matter by a passerby.

The commissioner’s senior compliance officer Alan O’Grady contacted the school and advised it to remove the files from the bag. He also contacted gardaí and two officers were dispatched to the school to ensure the items were removed.

Some members of the public said there were photocopies of passports as well as banking details among the files.

The college’s director of studies John Ryan told The Irish Times there had been “an oversight” and said he wished to convey his apologies to students for the incident.

“There was a hodgepodge of stuff in the skip bag so some files were inadvertently in there,” he said. “Normally, information is shredded. We have files which are secured. We keep all our files for a minimum of three years anyways, and thereafter the protocol is to shed all information.

“We had a general clean-out. A lot of mixed rubbish was put into the skip and it was an oversight on our behalf that some student information was amongst it. Once I was made aware of that and advised by the office of the Data Protection Commissioner to remove it, I did.

“I don’t know what information was involved. Certainly we have identification and bank details. I’m not sure if that was amongst the information. Certainly files would have addresses, correspondence, but I can’t confirm they had any other information.”

He said he was “not sure” how long the files had been on the street but defended the college’s integrity.

“It was not something that was done intentionally but it was a breach of confidentiality on our behalf and not something we take lightly,” he said.

“I know there is a lot of news in the media at the moment about language schools, but we are an accredited organisation and we are serious about what we do.”