One of the key objectives of the ISSE is to develop an additional source of valuable information about the experience of students in Irish higher education institutions. It may take some time to fully appreciate the potential benefits of this survey data but there is an explicit intention to provide benefits to individual institutions and to those students.

Since 2014, the national reports include a chapter exploring two of the indices in detail. This chapter, “Looking Deeper: What does ISSE data tell us about the student experience?”, points to the true value and benefits of implementing ISSE over time. A follow-up report, “Effective feedback and uses of ISSE data: an emerging picture“, outlines some of the activities already taking place in Irish institutions.

In addition, the following points are suggested to prompt discussion. Websites associated with similar international surveys (AUSSE and NSSE) also offer examples of using the data. It is regarded as important that the national project continues to support local use and interpretation of the ISSE data. A series of data analysis and implementation workshops are held in regional venues each year. Additional workshops, discussions and further guidance can be provided on request.


  • Don’t just send a summary report. Share results and schedule a time to discuss with relevant personnel
  • You may wish to involve a larger number of staff by asking them to review results for their own areas of responsibility and to identify priority actions. An increasing number of institutions conduct further analysis to explore results by faculty / department
  • Examine trend analyses to consider past years’ data relative to latest data (for individual questions or for individual indices) and to inform priorities for next year
  • Prompt a discussion on expectations of the experience of different groups of students. What differences, or similarities, would staff expect in the experiences of first years relative to final years; full – time or part-time; discipline A or discipline B? Is this what you expect? Could / should the experience be different?


  • Don’t just write a report for staff. Share results and schedule a time to meet with students to discuss the results, what they mean, and what action(s) may be appropriate
  • Complement discussion at committees that include student representatives with opportunities to discuss results in settings where student engagement is the main focus
  • Arrange briefings for student union officers and for the general student body
  • Demonstrate to students examples of your institution acting on the results. Simple feedback that illustrates “you said…” and “we did…” can prove highly effective.


  • Determine relevancy. What data is most compelling for your institution, faculties,departments, students? Facilitate departments, learning support units to engage with small sets of relevant results, not the whole report
  • What institution-level initiatives might benefit from survey data? Connect results to “hot issues” in your institution and send to relevant groups
  • How can you use comparison group data to motivate reflection and action on your results? How does your data compare to national or similar institution-types?
  • Can you look at your results relative to part performance and absolute standards and commit to getting better?
  • What other institutional sources of data can you link to ISSE results?


Survey results can be used in many ways. Possibilities include:

  • supporting student learning and development
  • facilitating student retention and engagement
  • managing resources, programmes, and services
  • assessing institutional performance
  • guiding staff development activities
  • improving internal communication
  • marketing to prospective students