Auto-Forwarding University Emails

To be more precise, this is about forwarding all of “your” email from your University mailbox to an unapproved mail service (i.e. Hotmail, an individual Google Mail account, etc.). The very short summary of all of this is: Don’t.

We have recently been made aware that a significant number of people use automatic email forwarding to ensure that their University email is available on an alternate (and unapproved) mail service. This does not apply to Google Mail pilot users. Historically this sort of behaviour has been quietly overlooked, but there are a number of problems with this sort of behaviour.

More importantly, it is in the opinion of senior management that auto-forwarding all University email is against the University Email Policy. Whilst that policy may not explicitly ban auto-forwarding of University email to an unapproved third-party, it certainly does include terms that in effect prohibit this kind of activity. The University email policy is due to be revised and an explicit statement regarding forwarding is likely to be included.


It is understood that there are many possible reasons why it may be convenient for someone to have their email forwarded to another email service. Not limited to, but including :-

  • Preferred mail interface – some people may prefer to use Hotmail’s user-interface over Google’s.
  • Long-term business address – some people who move between institutions may wish to use a non-institutional address to avoid repeatedly changing their address. Of course it is perfectly acceptable to auto-forward a non-institutional address to the University email address.
  • Centralising personal and business email into one mailbox.

Whilst these are all perfectly sensible reasons for auto-forwarding emails to an unapproved third-party provider, the University does have genuine concerns regarding the auto-forwarding of email. If anything, the University does not really want to ban auto-forwarding but is forced to.

The concerns include (but are not limited to) :-

  1. Data Protection. As University property, University business emails are subject to the Data Protection Act and allowing them to be stored on third-party servers breaches the seventh data protection principle.
  2. Data Protection. Individuals sending emails to an address that is forwarded may not be aware that their email is being forwarded, so there may be situations where the first data protection principle is being breached.
  3. Operationally. Forwarding emails to an unapproved third-party location can (and does) cause issues with mail delivery which can in severe cases cause disruption to the legitimate use of the email systems.


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