News: WatClass Updates

Please note: the timeline for updating WatClass records classification and retention schedules has been extended through 2021, in light of the changes to University administrative routines necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

A review & update of the WatClass records classification and retention schedules is underway, to simplify the classification structure and complete the remaining sections of the retention schedules. This will make it easier for University employees to identify the appropriate retention schedules for their records. Retention schedules will also be converted from Adobe Acrobat PDF files to regular web-pages, to facilitate accessibility and future updates.

During 2020-2021, the following changes will be made to this website and to WatClass:

  • Draft records retention schedules will be added for functional categories which currently do not have approved retention schedules (e.g., for  Information & Technology Management).
  • Draft versions of the simplified classification structure and retention schedules which will replace the current approved sections of WatClass (e.g., for Students and Teaching & Learning) will be made available for review, with tables displaying how the new classification scheme maps to the old. See Updated Records Classes & Retention Schedules for more information.
  • The updated WatClass will have fewer records classes within each functional category. Records classes for records serving similar purposes, with similar retention periods, will be consolidated into a smaller number of records classes with expanded scope.
  • Records class ID numbers within functional categories will be revised to eliminate gaps and inconsistencies in numbering which have arisen over the past decade.
  • Records of faculty councils and their committees are now classified as Governance (GV) rather than Administration (AD) records. The re-classified records retention schedules will be labelled as “Drafts” for a transition period but there are no changes to the retention periods for records.

Upon completion of the updates, WatClass will have no more than 10 to 15 records classes in each of its 12 functional categories.


WatClass provides a 3-level classification structure for University records:

  • The top level is the 12 functional categories: e.g., Administration (AD).
    • The second level is the records classes within the functional category, with their corresponding records retention schedules: e.g., AD20 – Administrative Committees.
      • The third level is the sub-categories of records within a records class described in the “Retention” section of the records retention schedule (e.g., “Constitutions and terms of reference”, found in AD20 – Administrative Committees).

The 2nd level is the most important for managing records: the records retention schedules document the information stewards, information confidentiality classification, units responsible for official records in that class, and the information needed for the disposal of records at the end of their retention period.

Finding the appropriate retention schedule is unnecessarily difficult when too many records classes are defined within a functional category. For example, the Health, Safety, & Security section currently contains 44 records classes: almost 30% of all currently approved records retention schedules.

The complexity of the 2nd level of the classification has been reduced by combining the classes for records serving a similar purpose into one records class with a broader scope. For example, the five records classes for appointments and recruitment authorization in the Human Resources functional category are easily consolidated into a single records class for recruitment and appointment records. The 3rd level of the classification essentially remains unchanged, but it becomes easier to reach this level when there are fewer options to review at the 2nd level.

While the original plans for WatClass called for approximately 250 records classes across all functional categories, the updated WatClass will have less than 120 through the consolidation of records classes into new classes with broadened scope.