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Saturday, June 25, 2022

University leaks names of bursary recipients

Email accidentally reveals names of students receiving hardship fund

University administrative officials accidentally leaked a confidential list of nearly 500 students receiving a bursary fund earlier this month.

An email addressed to 483 Moritz-Heyman scholars did not follow regular email procedures, with all students being CC’d rather than BCC’d. It meant that the names of all bursary recipients were left visible.

Soon after the initial email was sent, the administrative office fol- lowed up with an apology. “This morning you will have received an email from [email protected] careers.ox.ac.uk … which did not follow normal email procedures,” they wrote.

“Consequently all the email addresses were left visible. I am so sorry that this occurred and can assure you that this will not happen again.”

The Moritz-Heyman Scholarship programme is offered to up to 175 incoming students each year. It is a purely financial scholarship, for which students are assessed on multiple factors, including whether they have a parental income of under £16,000 per year, their school’s Oxbridge rate, and socio-economic indicators in their postcode area.

Students receiving the Moritz-Heyman scholarship are given the maximum bursary from the University (partially funded by the Moritz-Heyman programme) as well a reduction in their tuition fees. They are also offered access to an exclusive internships.

One second-year scholar said they were “astounded” to find out about the leak, despite the programme giving them “unparalleled support throughout (their) degree”.

They said: “This was private information that had been entrusted to them and although I personally don’t feel any repercussions, I’m angered as a point of principle.

“It was hopefully momentary, but still significant, lapse of competency among the team running the scholarship and a mistake that shouldn’t be taken too lightly”.

In response to the leak, a spokesperson from the University told Cherwell: “We take data security very seriously and the incident has been reported to the University’s data security team.

“The students involved received an apology as soon as we became aware of the error, and we have also updated our processes as a result of this incident.”

A third year Moritz-Heyman scholar said: “Personally, I was not too fazed by the whole thing because I am relatively public about my back- ground and the tremendous help MH has been. However, I can assume that some people the leak was embarrassing and deemed as careless.”

“Some students like me didn’t even notice the initial leak until the apology email was sent. So it probably more harm than good in some ways; however, in another light, the apology email did show that MH does seek to ensure the privacy of its scholars.”

Another second year scholar said they “don’t feel affected by the breach”.

Oxford SU have responded to the breach, telling Cherwell that “confidentiality in this situation is important”.

They said: “It is for a student to choose whether they identify themselves as being from lower so- cioeconomic backgrounds and such information should never be shared without their consent.”

This comes after Hertford accidentally shared the details of their unsuccessful applicants in January this year. The rejection email sent to 200 unsuccessful applicants contained personal information about the candidates.

The parent of one of the candidates told The Telegraph: “It is disappointing enough to be rejected after three days of intensive interviews without having your rejection letter splashed all over the world to all and sundry.”

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