By Duncan Macrae
The University of Greenwich, London, has suffered a massive data breach with personal details of students published online.
Names, addresses, dates of birth, mobile phone numbers and signatures of hundreds of London-based research students could be found online with a simple Google search.
Health Problems Revealed
Lecturers' comments about students' course progress were also published, along with some email exchanges between university staff and students.
Some of the students' health problems were also disclosed.
The Information Commissioner's Office confirmed it has received complaints from students and an investigation into the breach of privacy is under way.
Louise Nadal, University of Greenwich secretary, said she was "very sorry that personal information about a number of postgraduate research students has been accessible on the university web site."
This was a serious, unprecedented error, in breach of the university's policies and procedures, she explained, adding that the material has now been removed.
"We are now acting urgently to identify those affected," she said. "I will be contacting each person individually to apologize and to offer the support of the university.
"At the same time, I am also conducting an investigation into what went wrong. This will form part of a robust review to make sure that this cannot happen again. The findings and recommendations of the review will be published.
"The university is committed to protecting confidential data and apologizes for this error. We are co-operating fully with the Information Commissioner and we will take all steps necessary to ensure that we have the best systems in place for the future."