What is a University Record?

The State Records Act 1998 defines a record as:

"Record" means any document or other source of information compiled, recorded or stored in written form or on film, or by electronic process, or in any other manner or by any other means.

"State record" means any record made and kept, or received and kept, by any person in the course of the exercise of official functions in a public office, or for any purpose of a public office, or for the use of a public office, whether before or after the commencement of this section.

University records are one of its major assets that have value beyond the local or immediate. This means all records which go beyond the boundaries of the office routine, which need to be seen by another or others apart from the creator of the record, and which inform on or contribute to a discussion, debate, enquiry, procedure, or progress of an event.

Records represent the tangible product of the work of staff. To recreate them in the event of a total loss would cost millions of dollars. The loss of University's records, or even a part of them, could destroy the evidence of students' achievements, staff entitlements and jeopardise the University's rights and interests.

Download the Official Guide (DOCX).

1. Offical Records

2. Types of Official Records

3. Examples of University Records

4. Misconceptions about Official Records

5. How to Determine If a Record is Official

6. Unofficial Records

7. Why is Good Recordkeeping Important?

8. Failure to Create a Records

9. Recordkeeping Responsibilities

10. Active and Inactive Records

11. University Records Management Policy

12. Legal Disposal of Records

13. Emails

14. TRIM - University Record and Document Management System

15. Naming Convention for TRIM Electronic Documents

16. Versions and Revisions - Electronic Document Management

17. Scanning Records

1. Official Records

An official record is the University's record of its business activities. Official records should be captured in the formal records management system - TRIM.

Official records:

  • Provide evidence of business activities of an individual staff member, faculty or unit, or of the University as a whole;
  • record decisions, decision-making processes, advice and/or direction;
  • support the corporate memory of an individual area, a faculty or unit, and/or the University as a whole.

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2. Types of Official Records

Official records should consist of official documents and paperwork, kept in chronological order and attached to a record. Official records can include copies of official documents kept elsewhere, if they are required to explain an activity or function.

Official records exist in relation to individual units, schools, departments, institutes, centres, faculties and divisions. In some cases, records such as these may be kept officially by another area, however, don't assume that this is the case. It is important to always check first, to determine if you should be retaining the records on official file.

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3. Examples of Official University Records

The University has a wide and diverse range of functions. Below is a list of some examples of University records. Emails are also classified as a University records and as such must be managed appropriately and placed into an official Records Management System

Please note that this not an exhaustive list.

Record Types  
Administrative Activities e.g Accommodation and equipment
Committee Records/External Committees These include records of:
  • Setting up a committee
  • Meetings
  • Minutes and agendas
  • Terms of reference
  • Attachments or tabled papers
  • Membership information, including selection and election procedures
  • External Committees where UoN has a representative
Contracts/Agreements/Commercial Activities All documentation relating to the development of a contract, terms and conditions, and signing of agreements are classified as records. Agreements which should be retained on an official file may relate to:
  • Purchase of major equipment and stores
  • Intellectual property; joint or collaborative ventures; consultancies
  • Research agreements
  • Licensing agreements, e.g. for software.
  • International Agency Agreements
  • Construction/Purchase/Leasing of Property
Conferences Workshops and Seminars  
Courses and Subject Outlines This also includes records relating to courses and their development, review and accreditation.
Establishment These include records relating to the establishment of and changes to the organisational structure through establishing and reviewing positions. Also includes documents relating to the classification and grading of positions.
Financial Management Records relating to the function of establishing, operating and maintaining accounting systems, controls and procedures, financial planning, framing budgets and budget submissions, obtaining grants, and managing funds and revenue from charging, consultancies and investments, asset management and auditing.
Development/Community Relations
  • Records relating to the function of establishing rapport with the community (both national and international), raising and maintaining the organisation’s broader public profile. These records also include relationships with professional bodies and industry, especially other tertiary institutions, the management of services to students and other clients, for example, Open Days and Orientation Week, handling reactions to those services, customer consultation and feedback.
  • Includes marketing, advertising, media liaison, official representation at ceremonies (including graduations), speeches, functions and participation in community activities
Grants Incoming and Outgoing
Grievances Staff and Student
Legal Matters These records include: the interpretation and provision of advice to the organisation regarding legal matters; the negotiation and drawing up of legal agreements and the handling of legal action and disputes.
Management of Oversee Courses  
Meetings School, Business Units, Office or project meetings
Non-awards Courses Including student files
Personnel Management Policies and procedures and supporting documentation relating to:
  • leave;
  • salaries;
  • superannuation;
  • working hours and conditions;
  • staff development and training;
  • occupational health and safety;
  • EEO; and
  • Industrial relations.
Also case management files such as those relating to
  • discipline
  • grievance
  • compensation
  • rehabilitation matters.
Personnel Records Records pertaining to employment of staff with the University
Policy Files Policy files should always have a copy of the final approved policy in all its versions. The files might also hold documents relating to the development of the policy. Do not place procedural documents, working papers (unless they relate directly to policy development and document decision-making processes), or papers concerning individuals onto policy files. Remember that policy files are accessible to all members of the University and possibly the wider community and should not contain personal information.
Procedures Any records documenting procedures which impact wider audiences and functions should be captured into a University Records Management System (TRIM). An example of purely local would be where there is an intra-office procedure that anyone taking stores from the stationery cupboard record that action in the book. That is, the records have no ‘corporate’ value and are simply made for the convenience of office routine.
Property Management Any records relating to the function of managing land and buildings includes:
  • acquisition;
  • construction;
  • fit-outs;
  • space allocation;
  • management;
  • maintenance;
  • protection (security) and disposal of property.
Also includes removal of pollutants and waste. Most records relating to property management will be referred to and therefore should be retained on an official file to allow for easy access.
Prizes and Scholarships  
Projects  
Purchasing Records relating to the purchase, lease or hire of significant stores and equipment should be placed on an official file. Any purchase where a tender process has been entered into or where there has been a call for quotations should be carefully recorded and the records placed on an official University file. Local records can be kept for routine purchases, such as for stationery. There is no need to place copies of records on official files where the transaction has been recorded electronically into the University’s financial system, and where records are created or held by Financial Services, or where there is a clear audit trail.
Research Projects Records relating to applications for research grants, design of research projects, research data and application for and granting of ethics approval
Strategic Management Records relating to this function include: those documenting the activities involved with the development, monitoring and reviewing of business plans, strategic plans, work plans, corporate plans, quotas and cut-offs, courses and degrees, EEO plans and other long-term strategies. These records will document progress and development and will permit regulated reporting to government bodies. They will also demonstrate precedents and provide a basis for sound decision-making.
Student Administration Records Records pertaining to candidature of students

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4. Misconceptions about Official Records

Misconceptions about which records are official can mean that official records are not captured in the formal records management system. Some examples of common misconceptions are:

"But these are not University records; these are just things I do."
Just because an activity is routine or at a local level, does not mean it should not be captured in the records system. Routine and local practices and activities need to be captured on official file. There is usually decision-making involved and provides a good history for the area of what they do. Too often areas of the University end up reinventing the wheel because a corporate memory has not been captured. Records of business activities, even at an individual level, are official, and must be captured on an official file.

"But these records are not important. Why keep them?"
Just because the records of an activity may not seem important to you, that does not mean we can ignore our legal responsibilities in relation to legal retention requirements. Even if records have a short life in relation to our administrative requirements, they may still have legal retention requirements, and should be placed in the official records system.

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5. How to Determine if a Record is Official

Staff should consider the following criteria when determining whether a record is official:

5.1 Originality of the records

Determine whether or not the information is duplicated elsewhere in an official system. If it is already captured as an official record, then your copy is unofficial.

If only part of it is duplicated, or your area's focus is from another angle, you should create an official file in your area.

Your documentation may be supporting documentation for official records captured in a database system. If your records provide evidence to support an official record (e.g. student forms), then they are official also, and should be placed on official file.

5.2 Responsibilities

Determine who is responsible for keeping the official record. Many areas may hold this information, but is your area responsible for keeping the official record? Are you responsible, or is your supervisor responsible?

If you are the originator of the records or your area is responsible for the functions the records support, create an official file.

Exceptions to the above are where an agreement has been made for one area to retain the official file, and your documents are sent to that area for filing.

5.3 Evidence

Determine whether the records are evidence of transactions that the University, your area or you could be accountable for. If so, they must be filed onto official file.

If you are still uncertain as to whether you should create a record of a transaction and place it on an official University file apply the following tests:

  • Is the record of interest or importance to others outside of your immediate working environment?
  • Does the ?transaction? have to be approved by a more senior officer, committee or specialist unit?
  • Has a decision been made which needs or may need supporting evidence or a record of the decision-making processes?
  • Has a decision been made which will have an impact on another individual, office or the University as a whole and which sets a precedent?
  • Will the record document a change to policy, procedure or methodology?
  • Are there financial or legal implications which may come under scrutiny to ensure accountability, (by the NSW Auditor-General or the NSW Ombudsman, for example)?
  • Do you require the record so as to be able to report to internal or external bodies?
  • Is there a statutory requirement to make or keep particular records?
  • Does the transaction fall within the Recordkeeping guidelines of the State Records Authority?

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6. Unofficial Records

Unofficial records are records held within your office that are duplicates or drafts of records already held on an official record in a record management . They do not have any role in providing an explanation of functions or activities carried out by you, your faculty or unit, or by the University.

5.1 Types of unofficial records

Unofficial records may exist in relation to individual units, schools, departments, institutes, centres, faculties and divisions. They include:

5.2 Duplicates

Examples of duplicate records include copies staff files, or copies of committee papers kept officially by another area.

It is okay to place copies of documents onto official file when it helps explain a business activity or proof of action taken.

5.3 Working files

In most cases, working files contain both official and unofficial records. It is important to ensure any official records retained on working files are placed on official records, and that your working file remains as a reference file only.

Working papers for a project may all be unique, if not already captured, and so, should be on official file.

5.4 Drafts

Draft documents are not normally placed on records , except where they are draft legal or policy documents.

5.5 Facilitative documents

Documents that facilitate the development of an official document are unofficial. The exception to this is if they are required as evidence to support information in the official document.

5.6 Reference material

Published internal or external reference material is unofficial. An exception may be if a decision was made in relation to the document, and reproduction of the document would be difficult in the future.

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7. Why is Good Recordkeeping Important?

Proper recordkeeping practices promote efficiency and economy within the University. Having comprehensive and timely access to the information contained in University records assists everyone in carrying out their duties. Knowledge of proper procedure, access to correct policy information and awareness of precedent all ensure the smooth and economical operation of the University. Another significant driving force behind the need for good records management is the increasing amount of University business being conducted by electronic means.

The speed of communication and the volume of electronic documents created by information technologies make it imperative that proper procedures are in place to capture, preserve and make available those records of corporate value. The nature of electronic documents is such that they must be captured into a system at the point of creation if they are to be of any value to the University as evidence of its functions and activities.

Good Recordkeeping:

  • Contributes to the smooth operation of the University by making information readily available when it is needed for decision-making and operational activities;
  • provides precedent, background information and analytical material for staff or colleagues working on similar projects;
  • creates a complete record of official actions that will remain with the University for future use and may later be transferred to the University Archives as a historical record;
  • ensures accountability;
  • ensures that electronic records, especially those generated by desktop applications, will be available to all authorized personnel; and
  • protects records from inappropriate and unauthorised access.

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8. Failure to Create a Record

Without the ready availability of complete records to support operational needs the quality of the University’s decision making could be impaired. It can also impact on the University’s ability to sufficiently protect its rights and those of its students and staff, and of organisations and people affected by its actions and decisions.

Failure to create and maintain proper records is therefore a risk management and University governance issue which can lead to increased exposure of the University to liability and penalties. Furthermore, an inability to provide records that substantiate the University’s activities may be seen as a major failure in organisational accountability.

The University is required to meet stringent governance standards expected by the Auditor General and Parliament and be able to respond effectively to requests under the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (which has replaced the Freedom of Information Act), and any internal or external investigative inquiry such as by the Ombudsman or ICAC. A failure to create records is a breach of the State Records Act 1998, and a formal investigation by the State Records can attract unwanted adverse publicity to the University.

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9. Recordkeeping Responsibilities

9.1 The University

The University operates in an environment which demands high levels of accountability and records provide a basis for this accountability. Poor recordkeeping practices contribute to inefficiencies and poor or ill-informed decision-making. It may also result in crucial evidence being destroyed, or the records being inadequate to meet accountability requirements.

The NSW State Records Act 1998 requires public offices, which includes Universities, to 'make and keep full and accurate records' of their activities and to 'establish and maintain a records management program' in conformity with standards and codes of best practice.

The University must apply best practice in records management as in any other aspect of management and be able to demonstrate that recordkeeping responsibilities of all staff are documented and communicated.

9.2 Business Unit Managers and Heads of Schools Roles and Responsibilities

Managers must ensure that proper records management practises are implemented within their area of responsibility. This may be achieved by:

  • maintaining awareness of current University policies and procedures in relation to recordkeeping, privacy and GIPA;
  • nominate a Records Management TRIM Champion from your business unit to assist with establishing and maintaining good record keeping within the unit.
  • ensuring staff understand how the policies and procedures affect their work;
  • incorporating defined recordkeeping responsibilities into duty statements;
  • ensuring the appropriate recordkeeping systems are used;
  • seeking expert advice when in doubt.

9.3 All Staff

The following are requirements for recordkeeping that affect all staff:

  • The State Records Act requires public officials to 'make and keep full and accurate records' of their business activities. This applies equally to the paper and electronic recordkeeping environment.
  • The Ombudsman's Good Conduct and Administrative Practice Guidelines for Public Authorities and Officials states that public officials must make and create records to support accountability and corporate memory. It encourages recordkeeping to be seen as a normal and natural part of work by public officials. Simply stated, staff have a number of basic obligations regarding records:
    1. Make records to support the conduct of your University activities.
    2. Create records that may not otherwise be created.

  • Register records into either paper or electronic recordkeeping systems. The University's records keeping system is TRIM.
  • Do not destroy University records without the authority to do so from your head of department, Information Services Manager and the Associate Director, Complaints and Information Management
  • Do not lose University records.
  • Protect the privacy of the personal information contained in University records.
  • Ensure that all information contained in University records is objectively expressed, correct, up to date and not misleading. This also includes emails.

Members of the public, staff and students have right of access to University records. Access to personal information may be sought under the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009, Privacy and Information Protection Act 1998 and the Health Records and Information Privacy Act 2002. When writing about an individual, assume that they will read the document. University records may also be accessed by external agencies, and so should reflect the highest standards of professional behaviour by all staff.

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10. Active and Inactive Records

There are statutory obligations for organisations to retain certain records for certain lengths of time. These retention periods start after the record has become non-current (or inactive), not from the date the record was created.

A record becomes inactive when:

  • the activity to which it relates ceases (e.g. projects, programs);
  • an accounting period is finished (e.g. financial/calandar year);
  • employment ceases (e.g. contracts and personal records);
  • a student's candidature is completed;
  • it is no longer needed;
  • it is no longer wanted.

Although you are required to keep records in an accessible format for the length of the statutory retention period, you may keep particular records for a longer period according to need. An exception to this rule relates to personal (including health) information which, under the Privacy and Information Protection Act 1998 and the Health Records and Information Privacy Act 2002, must not be kept longer than necessary - usually understood as the retention period set by documents known as Disposal Authorities. If you are unsure of the retention requirements, contact the Records Management Office at the University of Newcastle at records@newcastle.edu.au

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11. University Records Management Policy

11.1 Policy Statement

This policy seeks to ensure compliance with standards for record keeping and record management set down in State legislation and Australian Standards. Relevant New South Wales legislation includes, but is not limited to:

  • State Records Act 1998
  • Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998
  • Health Records and Information Privacy Act 2002
  • Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009
  • Electronic Transactions Act 2000
  • Evidence Act 1995
  • Limitations Act 1969
  • Public Finance and Audit Act 1983.
  • The relevant Australian Standard is: AS ISO15489

Records play a critical role within the University. Records document the University's transactions, provide evidence of its actions and decisions, and preserve its memory - its principal source of continuity. Effective records management and information systems support those functions and satisfy the necessary legal, administrative and audit requirements.

The policy identifies the principles which will govern the University's management of records. Those principles will ensure that records are created, protected and disposed of appropriately.

The policy applies to any record in any format, created, received or maintained by University staff or anyone performing work on behalf of the University (including contractors and consultants), in the course of carrying out a University function or activity.

All staff, consultants and contractors performing work on behalf of the University must comply with the standards and procedures issued in accordance with this policy.

For further information on this policy refer to Policy number 000285 http://www.newcastle.edu.au/policy/000285.html

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12. Legal Disposal of Records

The University of Newcastle is subject to the NSW State Records Act 1998. The records created by all business units must be managed as State records in accordance with the Act irrespective of format (including electronic Records).

Under section 21(1) of the Act it is an offence to destroy, damage or transfer ownership of State records without authority.

Section 21(2) of the Act established a number of mechanisms for the lawful destruction of State Records. The two most relevant to the University are:

  1. the disposal of records in accordance with documents known as Disposal Authorities. These are issued by State Records with the approval of the State Records Authority Board; and
  2. the destruction of records in accordance with what the Act terms Normal Administrative Practice (NAP).

Destruction of University records must only be carried out following the approval of the Business Unit Manager, Information Services Manager and the Associate Director, Complaints and Information Management.

The University is not allowed to destroy single documents randomly as one document by itself provides no legal context, it is the contents of the whole record that the document resides in that provides the full evidentiary context.

In order to seek clearance to destroy records, the Record Destruction Authorisation Form (appendix 1) must be completed and forwarded to the Records Management Office. A copy of the signed approval form will be returned and the original will be retained on TRIM.

Destruction of records should be carried out in a manner that is confidential and environmentally friendly. The most appropriate mechanism for the destruction of paper-based records is recycling. Confidential material should be disposed of using the University's Confidential Waste Disposal bins.

The Records Management Office is mindful that there may be instances where electronic documents have been created erroneously which never eventuate into an actual record. The types of documents can be deleted from TRIM under Normal Administrative Practice (NAP), however the University is required by law to retain the metadata relating to the document as proof that we have adhered to the State Records Act. RMO have therefore created a 'Trash Folder' where you can transfer your documents that are not considered records. This folder will be emptied regularly by Records Management Office.

12.1 General Disposal Authorities

The disposal of records is regulated through the General Disposal Authorities (GDA's) issued by State Records. There are a number of GDA's covering broad functional areas of administration relevant to the University, and one specific GDA for university records. The relevant GDA's current at the time of writing are: 

  • GDA23 - University Records
  • GA28 - Administrative Records & Personnel Records
  • GDA4 - Records of Short Term Value That Have Been Imaged
  • GDA5 - Public Health Services: Patient/Client Records
  • GDA6 - Year 2000 Project Records (Y2K)
  • GDA7 - Financial and Accounting Records
  • GDA8 - Video/Visual Surveillance Records
  • HDA11 - Audio Visual Programs and Recordings

The complete document is available on the State Records web site at: http://www.records.nsw.gov.au.

Staff who are responsible for record creation within the various business unit should print copies of the relevant Disposal Authority to assist them in managing the records in their custody.

The GDA's identifies disposal actions related to the different functions, activities and types of records associated with each function. In this context, disposal does not equate with destruction. Disposal actions range from permanent retention as an archive, to stipulating a minimum period of retention prior to destruction.

12.2 Normal Administrative Practice (NAP)

It is possible to destroy records if it is in accordance with Normal Administrative Practice in the University. This does not mean that almost anything can be destroyed and then claimed to be normal administrative practice. State Records sets out some stringent guidelines as to what is and is not acceptable as NAP. In addition, State Records has the power to declare particular conduct or procedures to be unacceptable.

The legal destruction of records under NAP does not include actions which are corrupt, fraudulent, or for the purpose of concealing evidence of wrongdoing or for any other improper purpose. In general, the basis for destruction of records under NAP is that they have no ongoing value to the University, that they do not provide evidence of actions or decisions that must be retained, and/or that the content of the record is recorded or retained elsewhere in the record keeping systems.

Under the Regulation, 'NAP' records are defined below:
  1. Ephemeral records means records of little value that only need to be kept for a limited or short period of time. Ephemeral records have no continuing value to the organisation and, generally, are only needed for a few hours or a few days.
  2. Facilitative records means records of little value and of a routine instructional nature that are used to further some activity. Most facilitative records have no continuing value to the organisation and, generally, are only needed for a few hours or a few days.

12.3 Retention and disposal of records under NAP

12.3.1 Drafts that must be retained

These include documents with significant information that is not contained in the final form of the record. Some examples include:

  • Drafts containing significant or substantial changes or annotations, such a selection committee report circulated for comment and annotation amongst the members of the committee;
  • Drafts relating to the formulation of policy and procedure where the draft provides evidence of the processes involved or contain significantly more information than the final version of the record;
  • Drafts of legal documents (contracts, tenders etc).

12.3.2 Drafts that can be disposed of

Draft documents or routine working papers used for the preparation of such documents as:

  • budgets;
  • charts;
  • correspondence;
  • file notes;
  • minutes;
  • reports;
  • Spreadsheets.

12.3.3 Working papers/records

These are background notes and reference materials used to prepare and complete other documents. Working papers/records that must not be disposed of include those which document significant information that is not contained in the final form of the record.

Examples:
  • Working papers/records of a project officer or investigative officer where the working papers are a substantive record of the project or investigation (that is, they contain substantial and valuable material not found elsewhere).
  • Working papers/records may be disposed of when they are primarily facilitative and when the retention of the final version of the document is sufficient to meet the University's recordkeeping requirements or to function as evidence. Some examples:
    • audio recordings of dictated correspondence, conferences and meetings used to prepare correspondence, papers, minutes and transcripts;
    • calculations;
    • Rough notes, including those of meetings and telephone conversations where a formal record has been made.

12.3.4 Duplicates and published material

A very large number of records are reproduced and widely distributed within and outside the University. There are also duplicates of material produced outside the University. Where the record is of a type that should properly be placed on a file, or captured electronically, a copy should be retained. Originals should be placed on the appropriate official records by the originating office. Examples include: memoranda, copies of minutes, newsletters, brochures and other documents sent to all staff, or to particular classes of staff (Deans, HOS and HOD's etc). Once it is verified that the original is on the official file, all copies can be destroyed.

12.3.5 Computer support records

Computer records which support significant functions of the University, and which may be needed as evidence of particular activities, must be retained for the required retention period. Clear examples of such records are those that provide audit trails.

Computer support records that can be disposed of once they have been acted upon or superseded include;

  • Error or control reports
  • Input forms for data entry
  • Outputs used for checking /verifying
  • Regular batch reports
  • System reports
  • Transaction reports used for checking and control purposes
  • Reference copies of user manuals
  • Superseded computer logs
  • System backups
  • Test data

12.3.6 Messages

Messages include many record formats: email, voice mail, faxes, "Post-it" notes, telephone messages etc. If they have no continuing value, or have been copied on to a relevant file, they may be destroyed.

For further guidance on 'NAP' records, contact the Records Management Office

12.4 Guidelines for the Retention and Disposal of Records

The following guidelines will provide assistance to staff in determining the retention period of records held in Business Units, Schools and Faculties.

The list is not exhaustive and should you have any questions regarding the disposal of records please contact the Record Management Office.

Please note; if there are local requirements (audit, accreditation, litigation, and pending legal cases) to keep records longer than outlined in the General Disposal Authorities, they can. Departments must contact the RMO to discuss local retention requirements.

12.4.1 Committee Records

Committee records are common throughout the University. Given the importance of committees in the operation of the University, it is important that they be managed properly.

The Minutes of the Senate, Academic Board and their committees are retained permanently as University Archives.

Description Decision Disposal Action

Description Decision
1. Master set or records (minutes, agenda, reports, submissions and other meeting papers) of faculties, foundations, boards of studies, committees determining policy or established for strategic planning purposes. Transfer to RMO when no longer required for regular reference. There are required to be retained as State/University Archives.
2. Master set of records of other committees Refer to RMO for appraisal
3. Duplicate copies of minutes Destroy when no longer required for reference use

12.4.2 Curriculum Development Records

Working papers created during the development, approval or review of new curricula must be retained for a minimum of 3 years after the curricula is superseded. This applies to correspondence notes etc, not to committee records which are dealt with as above. Records of any external accreditation of curricula are corporate records and should be managed as an official registered record. Such records are required to be retained as State/University Archives.

12.4.3 Establishment

Reviews of organisational structure are important records. Records of reviews and restructuring of major sections of the University (faculties, colleges or administrative divisions) should be documented in the official University record. They are required to be retained as State Archives.

The RMO should be notified of the existence of any records of past reviews that have not been placed on a registered file. Records of reviews and restructures of sections smaller than a faculty need only be retained for five years after action on the matter is completed.

12.4.4 Financial and accounting records

The original records of financial and accounting matters are those managed by Financial Services.

Description Decision Disposal Action

Description Decision
1. Local copies of financial and account records (such as monthly management reports) Retain until no longer required for reference use, then destroy
2. Petty cash records Retain for 2 years after audit then destroy
3. Postal expense records Retain 7 years after audit then destroy
4. Receipts Retain for 7 years after last action, then destroy

12.4.5 Marketing

The majority of the records produced as a result of marketing activities need only to be kept for five years (unless the records contains financial information, these need to be kept for 7 years after a particular campaign or project ceases. A major exception are master copies of any promotional film, video or CD-ROM. These records are required as State/University Archives. Records of marketing activities conducted at the University level must be documented in the official record.

Photographic records of any marketing activities may also be suitable for inclusion in the University Archives. Refer to the RMO for advice.

12.4.6 Premises

Description Decision Disposal Action

Description Decision
1. Records related to routine repairs, maintenance and installation (excluding maintenance/service contracts) Retain for 2 years after last action then destroy
2. Pest control records Retain for 2 years after last action then destroy
3. Booking registers and other records related to the use of space Retain until cease to be of administrative use.

12.4.7 Publications by the University

Publications that are not of ephemeral nature (leaflets, flyers etc.) are required to be retained as State Archives.

12.4.8 Research

Many records related to research are required to be kept as State Archives. Often these records are not retained at the local level, but are captured into various University systems.

Data generated in projects of major national or international significance, interest or controversy or where the principal investigator has a widely acknowledged influence on the area of scholarship and where the data is crucial to the substantiation of the research findings and cannot be readily or practically duplicated, must be retained permanently as State Archives.

Research data generated in projects which are not of major significance, as outlined above, and which have human subjects and potential long term effects are required to be retained a minimum of 20 years after the project is completed or after research subjects have turned 25 years, whichever is longest. Note that this period may exceed that laid down by some granting bodies such as the NHMRC, but overrides any lesser retention period. In some circumstances significantly longer retention periods may be necessary.

Given the complex nature of the retention requirements for research data, questions regarding this issue should be raised with the RMO and Archives.

Description Decision Disposal Action

Description Decision
1. Human Ethics records of assessment and approval for research Retained for a minimum of 20 years after action completed and then destroyed.
2. Animal Ethics records of assessment and approval for research Retained for a minimum of 7 years after action completed and then destroyed.
3. Reports on individual research projects that include outcomes Required as State Archives
4. Research data of projects of major national or international significance, interest or controversy or where the principal investigator has a widely acknowledged influence on the area of scholarship and where the data is crucial to the substantiation of the research findings and cannot be readily or practically duplicated. Required as State Archives
5. Research data of projects which are not of major significance - where the project has human subjects and potential long term effects including animal testing for human products. Includes clinical or psychological research Retain for minimum of 20 years after project completed, or after research subjects have reached the age of 25 years, whichever is longer, then destroy.

12.4.9 Personnel Records

All significant matters relating to staff must be retained on an official registered personnel record for each staff member. Local copies of some material are maintained in some offices. Such files should be managed in accordance with the University's Privacy Policy and may be subject to GIPA requests, but do not need to be retained once any administrative or reference value has ceased.

12.4.10 Stores and Equipment

Description Decision Disposal Action

Description Decision
1. Local records relating to stores and minor equipment Retain for 2 years after disposal of item, then destroy
2. Local copies of requisitions, orders, invoices etc (where original records are managed by Financial Services) Retain until no longer needed for reference use, then destroy
3. "Goods inwards" books or records Retain for 7 years after audit, then destroy

12.4.11 Student Assessment Records

The official records of the marks/grades achieved by a student in the course of the degree/program or program undertaken are required to be retained permanently as State Archives.

Work completed by students for assessment, including essays, assignments and presentations need to be returned to the student. Examination scripts, need to be retained for six months after the end of the semester before being destroyed. (Please also refer to the Policy on 'Appeals' - Policy number 000261).

12.4.12 Student result records

Records of changes to assessment results should be attached to the relevant Student Record. These are retained for a period of 6 years after completion or discontinuation of course or program of study by student and then destroy.

Practicum's are records for courses of study where the number of hours completed and proof of satisfactory performance may be required for accreditation purposes (for example nursing and teaching practicum’s) must be retained for a minimum of 50 after the student has completed the course.

12.4.13 Supervision of Higher Degree Students

These records must be placed on the University's registered student file and are retained for a minimum of 6 years.

12.4.14 Teaching

Most course delivery records need only to be retained as long as they are needed for teaching or administrative purposes. This includes course notes, study guides, reading lists, assignments list and lecture notes etc.

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13. Emails

Please also refer to the Electronic Mail (Email) Management Guidelines (Policy Library Document number 000143)

An electronic message (email) can be a form of business communication. Sending an email that constitutes a business transaction is therefore a record. Records sent and received in the course of official duties are to be treated as official records. They are public records as governed by the State Records Act 1998.

Email messages, like other records, are subject to legislation and can be accessed through Government Information Privacy Access (GIPA) requests and to legal processes such as discovery and subpoenas. Your records may also be required by Royal Commissions, the Courts, auditors and other entities.

Email messages have three components:

  • Message envelope (addressee, sender, date/time)
  • Message body (text of the message)
  • Header information (transmission details such as date and time of sending)

The integrity of email records depends on these three components being maintained as a whole. Incomplete messages will fail to act as reliable evidence of the business activities which they document.

If you send an email YOU are responsible for capturing it electronically into TRIM or printing it and placing it onto an official University record.

If the person you receive an email from does not have access to TRIM you are responsible for capturing the email in TRIM.

13.1 Writing an Email

Give the email a meaningful subject line. The subject line of the email message must be an accurate description of the contents of the email document or the action required. Be specific, include timeframes and use suffixes

  • Meaningful subject lines for emails makes TRIM Record titling more efficient when cataloguing emails into TRIM.
  • Use suffixes such as: Action, Urgent, FYI - this tells the reader how they need to react to the email
  • Blank subject lines are not permitted.

Example SUBJECT: Action: Please Respond to Draft Policy for Records Management by Friday 20 May

NOT SUBJECT: Important!!!! Or SUBJECT: DP Friday

Evaluate email - If you send an email and the email is a University record it must be captured electronically in TRIM or in an official University record.

Emails need to be captured in immediately on sending and receipt of the emails and not at the end of lengthy email correspondence on a topic.

Replies/responses/actions to email - Once you have sent an email, you are responsible for saving the reply from external entities separate to the business unit or University, into TRIM or into an official University paper record.

13.2 Receiving an Email

If you receive an email - you are responsible for capturing it either electronically in TRIM or into a official University paper record, if it has been sent from persons external to the business unit or University.

Example:

Outside the University

  • Email to Registrar Officer from DEST
  • The Registrar is responsible for capturing the email from DEST in TRIM as well as any responses sent in return.

Example:

Outside the Business Unit

  • Email from ADTL Infocom (sender) to DVCR (Chancellery)
  • In the Chancellery DVCR is responsible for capturing received emails from ADTL as well as any email sent from DVCR to ADTL

Example:

External email sent to multiple recipients within the business unit

  • TO: Deputy Vice Chancellor - Academic Research; Deputy Vice Chancellor - International and Corporate; Deputy Vice Chancellor - Resources …
  • DVCAR is the first recipient and therefore is responsible for capturing the email electronically in TRIM or onto an official University record. Any subsequent actions or replies to the initial email is the responsibility of the Action Officer/sender. If the DVCIC replies to the initial email he/she is responsible for capturing their reply as well as any external replies that follow on from the DVCIC response.

Example:

Internal to Business Unit

  • Email to Registrar and VC from Internal Auditor:
  • Internal Auditor is responsible for capturing the email in TRIM;
  • If the Registrar replies to the Internal Auditor - the Registrar is responsible for capturing his/her response email in TRIM;
  • If the Registrar forwards the email with comments or changes to VC – Registrar is responsible for capturing his/her email to the VC in TRIM.
  • If the email is sent to multiple recipients – both external and internal to the business unit (in this example Chancellery) - you are responsible for capturing the email electronically in TRIM or onto an official University record, if your name is the first name from your business unit.

Example:

External email sent to multiple recipients within and outside of business unit

  • TO: Dean AHS; Dean BUSLAW; Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic Research); Deputy Vice Chancellor (International and Corporate); Deputy Vice Chancellor (Resources)
  • DVCAR is the first recipient and therefore is responsible for capturing the email electronically in TRIM or onto an official University record. Any subsequent actions or replies to the initial email is the responsibility of the Action Officer/sender. If the DVCIC replies to the initial email he/she is responsible for capturing their reply as well as any external replies that follow on from the DVCIC response into TRIM or onto the official University record.
  • External emails may be Carbon Copied (cc) to several people other than the addressees in the ‘To’ box of the email message.
  • The main addressee of the email is responsible for capturing the email electronically into TRIM or onto an official University Record.

Example:

External email sent to Business Unit recipient and Carbon Copied to others within unit

  • External email sent to Vice Chancellor and cc: Legal Unit and Deputy Vice Chancellor Research
  • VC is responsible for capturing initial email electronically in TRIM or onto an official University record.
  • If the Legal Unit replies to the email – the Legal Unit is responsible for capturing the reply email electronically in TRIM or onto an official University record.
  • If the DVCR replies to the email – DVCR is responsible for capturing the reply in TRIM or the official University record.
  • If the main addressee is outside the business unit and the email you have been Carbon Copied requires an action and/or response – you are responsible for capturing the initial email and any emails that follow electronically into TRIM or onto an official University record.

Example:

External email Carbon Copied to recipients within business unit

  • Email from Director DLS to Dean ECA and cc: Risk and Commercial Services
  • If there is no action required from Dean ECA and Risk and Commercial Services the email is for information purposes only and not required to be captured in TRIM.
  • If any action is required the Action Officer must capture the initial email and their replies electronically in TRIM or onto an official University record.
  • If action is required from more than one cc’ed person in the business unit, the first person in the list is responsible for capturing the initial email electronically in TRIM or onto an official University record.

13.3 Cataloguing Emails that have an attachment

It is recommended that email attachments are saved separately in TRIM. If an attachment is not saved as a separate record it will be difficult to retrieve this information at a later date. If an attachment is saved separate to the email, the email and the attachment should be related to each other in TRIM.

13.4 Capturing Emails you Receive that have Multiple Addressees

Emails are often sent to more than one person. It is important that the initial email is captured electronically into TRIM or into the official University paper record.

If an email has been sent to multiple people from an external source and you are the first recipient in the 'To' box of the email then you are responsible for capturing the email electronically in TRIM or onto an official University record.

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14. TRIM - The University Record and Document Management System

The University of Newcastle utilises a records management system called TRIM to support its corporate record keeping and ensures records that are full and accurate are authentic, reliable, accessible and useable and are secure against unauthorised alteration and destruction. TRIM allows the University to:

  • Retain electronic documents and maintain an electronic register of paper records.
  • Apply relevant disposal authorities as per State Records of NSW.
  • Search effectively for documents and records stored in TRIM.
  • View electronic documents which may not be readily accessible to staff physically (depending on security protocols)

TRIM also assigns security/access controls to electronic and paper records and provides an audit trail of who has accessed or viewed a record or document.

University records must not be maintained on desktops, in shared folders or on hard drives, where your business unit has access to TRIM. These electronic storage facilities are not designed to function as recordkeeping systems and cannot maintain the evidence necessary to support business needs and achieve State Government compliance now and in the future. If you do not have access to TRIM to store information in electronic format the information must be printed and placed onto a paper based record. Please contact the RMO to register your paper based record.

Records Management Office as well as the nominated TRIM Champions from various business units are responsible for creating TRIM electronic folder structures for retaining electronic records. TRIM Champions will be provided with guidelines for creating a folder structure for their business unit.

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15. Naming Convention for TRIM Electronic Documents

The name or title of a document should describe its purpose or “business”. Generic document names such as 'letter 15 September 00 vc memo '; do not assist in identifying and retrieving information at a later date and thus must be avoided. For instance, a document named as follows will greatly assist in retrieving this information at a later date;

  • Memo VC approval privacy plan 15 September 2008 or
  • Memo VC nomination privacy officer 28 June 2007

While lengthy, wordy titles should be avoided, Record titles must contain sufficient information and be meaningful enough to explain their content without the user having to physically open the record.

Document titles must contain the following detail in the title:

  • The subject of the document;
  • Version number (except for emails and File notes);
  • Date;
  • Type of document;

For example:

  • File Note re ACME contract 12 May 2009.
  • Minutes of focus Group 24 November 03 version 3.0
  • Desktop Management Guidelines 25 December 2009 draft 1

There may be exceptions to this convention in certain business units (for example, in the Governance and Policy Unit, the committee documents are names according to a convention developed by that unit, specifically for the management of committee records.)

Before capturing an electronic document in TRIM you must undertake a thorough search to ascertain if there are other records relating to the same subject:

  • If there is a related record in a different container and you are saving an electronic document, you must cross-reference or relate the document to the existing records in TRIM.
  • When capturing electronic emails, the title must not include Re: FW: and should reflect the content of the email record.
  • DO NOT USE terms such as 'various', or 'various recipients', 'general information' or 'miscellaneous'. There are not useful terms for retrieving information at a later date.

15.1 Capitalisation

  • DO NOT USE ALL UPPER OR lower case in the titles.
  • Good Example: Department of Education, Science and Training DEST Funding Agreements
    Not DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, SCIENCE AND TRAINING DEST FUNDING AGREEMENTS or
    Not department of education, science and training dest funding agreements

This will ensure consistency and is easier to view.

15.2 Acronyms and Abbreviations

  • An acronym and abbreviation may mean something to us now, but for future users it may be meaningless. Entering the information in full as well as the acronym will ensure that records with acronyms can be retrieved and accessed for many years to come.
  • When entering an accepted acronym or abbreviation also enter the description of the acronym/abbreviation in full. The only exceptions to this rule are University of Newcastle - UoN and States - NSW, Vic, Qld, WA, ACT, NT, Tas
  • Good Example: Department of Education, Science and Training (DEST) Funding Agreements
    • Not: DEST funding agreements

15.3 Dates in titles

  • Enter the month and year in full i.e. 12 May 2004.
  • Good Example: UON Records Management Policy as at 30 September 2004
    Not: UON Records Management Policy as at 30/9/04

15.4 Punctuation in titles

  • Punctuation in record titling should not be used (except for Document Profiles)
  • DO NOT USE - commas, apostrophes, ampersands, inverted commas etc
  • Full stops can be used if required.
  • Brackets should only be used for acronyms/abbreviations..
  • Slashes and hyphens may be used to separate words and to break up long titles - but MUST always have a space before and after. The only exception to this is hyphenated words which must have the hyphen for example co-operation.
  • Names of people/companies/organisations/committees are exempt from these rules and should be copied exactly. See Names
  • Good Example: UON - Callaghan
    • Not UON-Callaghan

15.5 Names in titles

Personal Names

  • When entering a personal name in a record title, the name must be copied exactly including any punctuation such as hyphens or apostrophes.
  • Good Example: Professor Henry O'Grady
  • Not: Henry O Grady or Henry Ogrady
  • Good Example: Jean Black-Smith
  • Not Jean Black Smith or Jean Blacksmith
  • Example: Steven McQueen
  • Not Steven Mcqueen or Steven MacQueen or Steven Mc Queen

15.6 Student and Personnel Records

  • The record title must contain the surname in capital letters followed by the given names and the student/staff number
  • Good Example: SMITH John James 000000

15.7 Organisation / Company Names

  • Organisation and Company names should be entered the way they are originally presented.

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16. Versions and Revisions - Electronic Document Management

Revisions are amendments to existing documents. All revisions occur under the same Record Number in TRIM and are evidence of the evolution of a document until it is made final.

Versions are new copies of an electronic document that use the latest revision of that document. You can create multiple versions of an electronic document and each will be registered as a separate record in TRIM.

Many documents require version control, such as; standard operating procedures, policies, externally visible documents, procedures, frequently asked questions, etc. Version control provides the ability to have a version that is current for general dissemination - current version - but you will still be able to have revisions and version control for a document not yet ready for general dissemination against the same record number version.

16.1 Finalising Electronic Documents

TRIM has the functionality to allow a user to finalise electronic documents once they are complete. Finalising documents into a PDF format prevents alterations to the document occurring intentionally or unintentionally and will protect the authenticity of the document.

When sending a document to an external party outside the University, the document should be sent as a PDF document, especially where the document is in its final state.

16.2 Storing the TRIM Document Number

When an electronic document is created in TRIM it is assigned a unique TRIM Record Number, this record number must be added to the document content, either in the header or footer of the document or the front page of the document.

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17. Scanning Records

Records Management supports scanning of paper records into TRIM. Records that require scanning must be scanned as a PDF. The scanned images should be saved to the appropriate TRIM Folder. Original paper documents/record must be maintained until it has been established that:

  • The scanned copy is authentic, complete and accessible;
  • The requirements for keeping originals have been assessed and fulfilled.

Before an original paper record can be destroyed the TRIM Champion or Records Management Office must determine whether the electronic record will be required under the Disposal and Retention Schedule as a State Archive. If the record is deemed as being required by State Archives then the original paper record can NOT be destroyed.

The following table outlines the required resolution, bit depth, file format and compression when scanning records to TRIM.

Document Type Resolution Bit Depth File Formats Compression
Text only, black and white Minimum 300ppi 1 bit (bi-tonal) - TIFF
- PDF, or
- PDF/A
Lossless Compression
Documents with watermarks, grey shading, grey graphics Minimum 600 ppi 8 bit greyscale - TIFF
- PDF
- JPEG, or
- PDF/A
Lossless Compression
Documents with discrete colour used in text or diagrams Minimum 600 ppi Minimum: 8 bit colour - TIFF
- PDF
- JPEG, or
- PDF/A
Lossless Compression
Black and white photographs Sufficient to provide >3000 pixels across long dimensions 8 bit greyscale - TIFF
- PDF
- JPEG, or
- PDF/A
Lossless Compression
Colour photographs Sufficient to provide >3000 pixels across long dimensions 24 bit colour - TIFF
- PDF
- JPEG, or
- PDF/A
Lossless Compression
Black and white negatives Sufficient to provide >3000 pixels across long dimensions 8 bit greyscale or 24 bit colour - TIFF
- PDF
- JPEG, or
- PDF/A
Lossless Compression
Colour negatives and transparencies Sufficient to provide >3000 pixels across long dimensions 24 bit colour - TIFF
- PDF
- JPEG, or
- PDF/A
Lossless Compression

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