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McMaster University’s Statement on the Collection, Use and Disclosure of Personal Information

On June 10, 2006, Ontario universities became subject to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA). As its name implies, the legislation has two distinct purposes and each of these carries with it a different set of requirements.

Under Freedom of Information, the public has the right of access to all of the recorded information which is in McMaster’s custody and control (with some specific limitations). In order to facilitate this right of access, the University is required to prepare descriptions of the institution’s records and personal information banks (PIBs). These directories, which must be published annually, are intended for use by the public to determine the information generally maintained by each institution.

The University Secretary and Privacy Officer is the appointed head of the institution for FIPPA purposes. While the Privacy Office (University Secretariat) has primary responsibility for the administration of FIPPA-related matters, a great deal of information is routinely available at McMaster without the need to submit a formal request.  Formal Freedom of Information requests must be directed to the Privacy Office (University Secretariat), who will contact the appropriate university department. Information on making a formal request can be found on our webpage Filing a Freedom of Information (FOI) request.

McMaster University's Notice of Collection, Use and Disclosure Statement

The Protection of Privacy provisions of the Act regulate the collection, use, disclosure, security and retention of personal information in the University’s custody and control. Many of the administrative requirements of this section of the legislation have been addressed previously with the introduction in 1995 of McMaster’s Guidelines on Access to Information and Protection of Privacy, and the federal Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (2000), which as of January 2004 imposed similar requirements on those sectors of the University involved in commercial activity. The University has developed a Notice of Collection, Use and Disclosure statement, outlining the kind of personal information that is collected and the use that is made of such informationYou may review each section of the Collection Notice below.

For questions regarding this Notice of Collection, Use, and Disclosure Statement, please contact Andrea Thyrett-Kidd, University Privacy Officer, in the Privacy Office (University Secretariat), 210 Gilmour Hall, 1280 Main Street West, Hamilton ON L8S 4L8,, 905-525-9140 ext. 24337.

  1. McMaster University collects and retains the personal information of students, alumni and other parties, including but not limited to faculty, staff, visiting academics and private citizens using services provided by McMaster University under the legal authority of the McMaster University Act,1976.
  2. The principal purpose for collecting personal information by the University is to execute the functions of the University and to administer the relationship between the University and its students, alumni, employees, clients, suppliers, partners and others.
  3. The University uses and discloses personal information in ways consistent with this Statement unless otherwise informed at the time of collection. Questions about this collection should be directed to Andrea Thyrett-Kidd, University Privacy Officer, in the Privacy Office (University Secretariat), 210 Gilmour Hall, 1280 Main Street West, Hamilton ON L8S 4L8,,905-525-9140 ext. 24337.

4.  All activities, programs and technologies that collect, use, retain and disclose personal information are assessed to protect individuals’ privacy. To provide members of the University community with services and programs, the University may use your information for the following purposes:

a. recruitment, admission and registration, academic programs and evaluations, and graduation;

b. evaluation of academic and non-academic programs;

c. employment-related matters;

d. assistance to student associations, retiree associations and the University’s Alumni Association;

e. financial assistance, awards and payment of fees;

f. alumni and development activities;

g. institutional planning and statistics;

h. centralization or sharing of service delivery among academic units, administrative services and programs;

i. reporting to government agencies, funding agencies and professional licensing bodies;

j. safety and security;

k. detection, monitoring and prevention of non-compliance with policies, regulations and procedures; and

l. promotion in print, electronic and internet publications.

5. Video surveillance cameras monitor areas of McMaster’s campuses to promote public safety. Further information can be found in the Closed Circuit Television Surveillance Policy or by contacting Security Services. Surveillance recordings are retained for 30 calendar days unless related to an investigation.

6. The University uses cookies for remarketing services (advertising based on visits to previous web pages) and analytics. No personal or identifying information is gathered or transmitted with this cookie. Individuals may opt out of cookies by changing their browser settings or using a browser plugin permanently.

7. The University shall not disclose Personal Information to external individuals or organizations unless:

a. otherwise provided by this Notice of Collection, Use and Disclosure of Personal Information Statement;

b. the individual is notified of such potential disclosure when the Personal Information is collected;

c. the individual has consented to the disclosure; or

d. permitted under applicable privacy legislation, including FIPPA, PHIPA, or the Health Protection and Promotion Act (HPPA).

 8. The University considers the following information as information collected and maintained to create a record that is available to the public and that may be published in print or electronic format::

a.. the names of graduates, the credentials conferred by the University and the date received. Educational history other than University-conferred credentials will be released only by Student consent (for example, forwarding transcripts or other official documentation to another institution on behalf of a student or graduate);

b. the recipient of excellence scholarships or other prizes or honours awarded by the University or a third party. The names, programs and other similar personal information of the recipients of honours, such as inclusion on a dean’s list or receipt of a scholarship, are used by the University to create and maintain a public record; and

c. voluntary membership on teams representing the University or participation in events as a representative of the University is considered an agreement by the member or participant to the public disclosure of limited personal information, such as name, degree/program, and other team- or event-related information;

d. many scholarships, bursaries and prizes have specific additional collection and disclosure conditions. McMaster assumes that persons applying for scholarships, bursaries, and awards have agreed to the relevant conditions; and

e. publicly available personal information may be collected to update alumni records and recognize outstanding achievements or distinguished service by alumni in University and McMaster University Alumni Association (MAA) publications.

9. To allow for core operations, including elections, the University may provide personal information of alumni and students to the McMaster Students’ Union (MSU), McMaster Graduate Students’ Association (GSA), McMaster University Alumni Association (MAA) and other similar organizations.

10. The University may also use the personal information of students and alumni to collect fees on behalf of these organizations. The University, on behalf of the MSU and GSA, discloses student personal information to insurers selected by the students’ associations. These constituent student groups use personal information for membership, administration, elections, annual general meetings, health plans and other matters related to membership benefits only. Please contact the relevant Student Union or Association office if you have questions about this collection, use and disclosure of your personal information and their respective privacy policies.

11. The University and MAA share alumni personal information with affinity partners who may contact you about their services. You may opt out of receiving this information. Please see the MAA Privacy Policy for details.

12. To provide library services, the personal information of University library patrons is collected, used, and shared within the shared services library platform with participating collaborative futures University partners.

13. Unless directed otherwise by the student, the University may disclose the contact information of graduating students to organizations providing convocation-related services, such as photography and degree framing.

14, Information regarding student participation in work-study placements, co-op training, or University-directed external training may be disclosed to the relevant third-party partners.

15. Any disclosure of Personal Information to a third-party partner must include the collection of express consent from the individuals for such disclosure to occur.

16. The University collects students’ names to operate virtual and physical classroom environments. By registering for courses, students recognize and agree that their names may be disclosed to other members of the student body during activities such as taking attendance, assigning topics, organizing students for group work, assessing classroom participation, facilitating classroom discussion, working in learning management systems (such as Avenue to Learn) and organizing tutorials. Students concerned about such disclosures should contact the course instructor directly to identify possible alternatives.

17. Some courses utilize services that help detect academic misconduct that requires a student’s work to be submitted to a third party. Courses requiring such services will include this in the course outline. By registering for these courses, students acknowledge and accept that some of their personal information may be submitted to a third party and may be retained for future use.

18. The University may also retain materials submitted in courses for use and disclosure as samples for course design and evaluation. Course materials may also be retained until operational use ceases regarding petitions, cases of academic misconduct, or other similar uses (see Academic Integrity Policy, Research Integrity Policy and Appeals Form A, Form B, and Form C).

19. Social Insurance Numbers (SIN) are collected under the authority of the Income Tax Act when required.

20. Address, telephone, email and other information may be used to contact you by any department within the University, including our ancillary services and external agencies involved in collecting fees and fines owing to the University. This includes the collection of fines for parking-related infractions.

21. The University uses a range of third parties located in Canada and other countries to deliver services for students and employees on its behalf. Before entering into an agreement with a supplier, McMaster has a privacy and security impact assessment process available to identify risks and make recommendations to ensure personal information will be securely collected and stored and used only as needed.

22. The University may collect personal information from other relevant sources, including, without limitation, from the Ontario Universities’ Application Centre (OUAC), secondary schools, colleges, universities and other institutions previously attended, including third-party services and test score providers where the items collected form a part of the application or admission process to a University program. Applicants may be contacted about admission opportunities other than those specifically identified by the applicant. They may also be contacted to guide the improvement of the University’s services and offerings.

23. Personal information provided to the University and placed in a student record or personnel record will be protected and used in compliance with the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (RSO 1990) and will be disclosed only in accordance with this Act. If you have any questions about the collection and use of student information, please contact the Office of the Registrar. If you have any questions about the collection and use of employee information, please contact Human Resources Services at

24. Registration records, educational history and supporting documents, including records of misconduct, may be used for the adjudication of admission, progression, and graduation with respect to various programs. Such information may be transmitted to other educational institutions and partners involved in the delivery of programs offered at, with, or through McMaster, including, but not limited to, entities engaged in the provision of joint degrees, cross-registration, practicums, exchanges, placements, co-op positions and service-learning opportunities. Personal information may be collected, used, and disclosed in petition or appeal processes and for disciplinary or security purposes.

25. Personal information is used to create class lists, grade submission lists and other materials needed for administrative purposes by employees of the University. Identity Cards and their photos may be used by the University and other contracted third parties for administrative purposes such as identity verification.

26. Personal information may be used or disclosed to determine eligibility for scholarships, bursaries and other forms of student aid and to promote the availability of such assistance.

27. Personal information may be used for institutional development, fundraising programs and initiatives. Forms may also be pre-populated with an individual’s name and ID number to assist with tasks such as donating or registering for an event.

   28.  Research involving personal information collection, use or disclosure will follow a review and approval process administered by the relevant University research administration office and the McMaster Research Ethics Board (MREB). The collection, use, or disclosure of this information will comply with University policies and provincial and federal regulatory requirements.

29. The University uses personal information to create various statistical and analytical reports that guide planning and administration. Personal information may also be transferred to external entities involved in research and statistical analysis of student experience and accomplishment to improve the quality and effectiveness of the University’s programs, policies and practices.

30. Email and physical addresses of samples of the student body may be provided to organizations that collect student opinions regarding the quality of the educational environment offered by the University. Such research and analyses include the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) and the Canadian Graduate and Professional Student Survey (CGPSS).

31. Personal information may be transferred to ministries and agencies of the Ontario Government and the Government of Canada as required by statute or regulation. This includes transfers to entities such as Statistics Canada, the Ministry of Colleges and Universities (MCU), and Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada.

32. As a Designated Educational Institution, the Income Tax Act requires the University to make reasonable efforts to obtain students’ Social Insurance Numbers (SIN) and report these annually to the Canada Revenue Agency as part of the Tuition and Enrolment Certificate for each full-time and part-time student. In addition to SIN, the certificate includes enrolment information such as the number of months of full-time or part-time enrolment and tuition fees. A student’s SIN may also be used to support the processing of financial aid or other administrative purposes, including processing payment for student employees.

33. The University must disclose personal information such as Ontario Education Numbers, student characteristics and educational outcomes to the Ministry of Colleges and Universities under s. 15 of the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities Act, R.S.O. 1990, Chapter M.19, as amended. The ministry collects this data for purposes such as planning, allocating and administering public funding to colleges, universities, and other postsecondary education and training institutions and to conduct research and analysis, including longitudinal studies and statistical activities conducted by or on behalf of the Ministry for purposes that relate to postsecondary education and training.

34. Any information collected by the University for self-identification as a member of a specific group (i.e., First Generation, First Nations, etc.) may be subject to disclosure to the MCU by McMaster and collected by the MCU pursuant to its statutory authority. Further information on how the MCU uses personal information is available on the ministry’s website (

35. Information on how the Ministry of Colleges and Universities uses this personal information is available on the ministry’s website or by writing to Director, Postsecondary Finance Branch, Postsecondary Education Division 7th Floor, Mowat Block, 900 Bay Street Toronto, Ontario, M7A 1L2.

36. Statistics Canada is the national statistical agency. As such, Statistics Canada carries out hundreds of surveys yearly on a wide range of matters, including education.

37. The Statistics Act provides the legal authority for Statistics Canada to obtain access to personal information held by educational institutions. The information may be used for statistical purposes only, and the confidentiality provisions of the Federal Statistics Act prevent the information from being released in any way that would identify a student.

38. Statistics Canada asks all colleges and universities to provide data on students and graduates. Institutions collect and provide information to Statistics Canada, including student identification information (student’s name, student ID number, Social Insurance Number), student contact information (address and telephone number), student demographic characteristics, enrolment information, previous education, and labour force activity.

39. Community members may contact Statistics Canada by email if they have any questions:

40. For members of the University community who reside within the European Union (EU) or European Economic Area (EEU), the university acknowledges the rights granted to you under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Please contact the Privacy Office (contact information provided above) if you have any questions or concerns about how your data is being collected, used, or disclosed.

41. The GDPR does not apply to the University processing information belonging to individuals residing outside of the EU. The University must legally comply with Ontario’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA).