There are two distinct but related surveys in use in 2018 – the ISSE for taught students, and the ISSE for postgraduate research students.

The survey for taught students (first year and final year undergraduate, and taught postgraduate) opens during February – March each year for a three-week period that is specific to each institution. This survey began in 2013.

Almost 60,000 students participated in the original survey from 2013 to 2015. A revised and shortened survey was introduced in 2016 and more than 65,000 students have responded to this survey to date. This means that a total of almost 125,000 students have had their say to date. Participating institutions and the national project team are very grateful for their time and contribution. Details and results are shared widely as they are analysed and interpreted within institutions.


The new, related, survey for postgraduate research students (Research Masters and PhD) will open during the same three-week period in 2018. The survey seeks to focus on students’ experiences during their research degree. The questions have been designed to match the experiences of research students and have been pre-tested with groups of research students in a range of institutions.


The main purpose of the surveys is to provide benefits to each institution and its students by helping to improve feedback and appropriate action. Objectives identified for the taught survey include:

  • To increase transparency in relation to the student experience in higher education institutions
  • To enable direct student input on levels of engagement and satisfaction with their higher education institution
  • To identify good practice that enhances the student experience
  • To assist institutions to identify issues and challenges affecting the student experience
  • To serve as a guide for continual enhancement of institutions’ teaching and learning and student engagement
  • To document the experiences of the student population, thus enabling year on year comparisons of key performance indicators
  • To provide insight into student opinion on important issues of higher education policy and practice
  • To facilitate comparison with other higher education systems internationally


The Irish Survey of Student Engagement is managed as a collaborative partnership. It is co-sponsored by the Higher Education Authority (HEA), institutions’ representative bodies (the Irish Universities Association, IUA, and the Technological Higher Education Association, THEA) and the Union of Students in Ireland (USI).

The partnership approach in place is an important feature of the project. Working groups, consisting of institutions’ and students’ representatives, manage the national project. A project manager supports the working groups and reports to the co-sponsoring organisations. A third party company provides the online survey system to the national partnership.

Any queries may be directed to or to:

ISSE Project Manager, c/o THEA, Fumbally Square, Fumbally Lane, Dublin 8, D08 XYA5.