What is records disposal?

Records disposal is the process by which University Records are either destroyed or retained as University Archives.

Disposal is a range of processes associated with implementing the records retention, destruction or transfer decisions documented in the University's Records Retention and Disposal Authority. These include:

  • immediate destruction,
  • retention by the work unit for a specified number of years prior to destruction,
  • transfer to intermediate storage for a specified number of years prior to destruction,
  • transfer to Records Services for permanent retention,
  • transfer by Records Services to University Archives for permanent retention.

A retention and disposal authority (RDA) is the document which sets out the appropriate disposal action for various types of records. The University Records Retention and Disposal Authority must be used to retain and destroy University Records, in accordance with the Records Management Policy and associated processes.

When to undertake records disposal

Records disposal should be undertaken as soon as the records are no longer required for administrative purposes. Most records disposal is undertaken by departments on an ad hoc basis. Regular disposal (eg. annual) and the consequent destruction and/or transfer of inactive records to intermediate storage facilities enables office space to be used more effectively and, by reducing the total volume of records, enables active records to be accessed quickly and easily. It is good practice to attempt short and simple projects and to conduct regular (e.g. annual) disposal rather than to allow records to accumulate.

Destruction of paper records

The work unit which has custody of hard copy records eligible for destruction should make the arrangements for their destruction. To protect the interests of the University, it is important to ensure that the records are destroyed in an appropriate and secure manner. The best way of doing this is to use a confidential waste destruction bin available from Property and Campus Services. See Request confidential waste bins for details.

Destruction of Electronic records

When destroying electronic records eligible for destruction, special precautions should be taken to ensure that electronic storage media containing confidential material or information that may infringe upon personal privacy is electronically wiped clean or physically destroyed. Deleting an electronic record does not always mean that it has been completely destroyed as most operating systems do not erase deleted information from hard disks but simply remove the file names from the directory and the deleted information is eventually written over by new records. Computer hard disks should be reformatted before the computer is disposed of. Records stored on magnetic media (such as tapes) can be erased by subjecting the media to a strong magnetic field, after which, the media can be reused. Records stored on optical media (such as DVDs and CDs) can be destroyed by cutting, crushing or other physical means of destruction. Tapes, DVDs and CDs can be destroyed by the University's confidential waste destruction contractor.

Destruction of Audio-Visual Records

Audio visual records eligible for destruction such as videotape, cinematographic film and microforms (microfilm/fiche/aperture cards) can be destroyed by shredding, cutting, crushing or other physical means of destruction. Additional information on confidential media waste can be found here