Disclosing grade data could harm enrolment, reputation, Carleton says

November 16, 2012

In a Freedom of Information dispute with the Ottawa Citizen, Carleton University argues that disclosing student grade records, even without names attached, would result in economic harm by damaging its competitive position against other universities. Carleton filed legal submissions last month in response to an inquiry by Ontario's Information and Privacy Commissioner into the institution's handling of an open-records request from the Citizen. The newspaper made an FOI request for grade data last year in order to analyze trends in the marks Carleton awards to see if they have been subject to grade inflation over the past decade. In its submissions, Carleton expresses concern that the chance of getting good grades would become the main factor students consider in choosing a university. The Citizen maintains that prospective students decide where to study based on numerous criteria, and that adding grades to this list would not significantly alter their choices. If it does, the paper argues, that's all the more reason to share the data with all students. The Citizen also argues there is compelling interest in comparing marks from publicly-funded universities to ensure they are awarded fairly and are comparable from one institution to another. Carleton's arguments will be considered by an adjudicator, whose decision could be challenged in Ontario court by either party. Ottawa Citizen