Stolen research staff details unlikely to be recovered

A stolen briefcase containing the private information of 500 research staff from tertiary institutions, including more than 140 staff from the University of Otago, will likely never be recovered, the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) says.

The briefcase, which contained evidence portfolios submitted by academic staff as part of the Performance-based Research Fund (PBRF) health round, was stolen from a coffee shop on the AUT University campus in Auckland last month. The briefcase also contained information about 24 Otago Polytechnic staff.

The briefcase was owned by a panellist on the TEC-convened panel to assess research portfolios submitted in health-related subject areas. TEC deputy chief executive Dr Colin Webb said the briefcase would most likely never be recovered.

''There are no new developments in the investigation into the stolen bag. The police and AUT security have investigated the theft, including reviewing CCTV footage from the area where the bag was stolen.

''At this time, neither the bag nor its contents have been recovered, and there are no leads on potential suspects. However, there is no evidence that the information stolen has become publicly available,'' Dr Webb said.

Since the theft the TEC had kept affected researchers informed and also changed security protocols to reduce the chances of loss or theft of sensitive information happening again.

A review into the incident would also be carried out.vaughan.

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