The Irish Survey of Student Engagement (ISSE) respects and protects your privacy. Student confidentiality is a central principle of implementation of the ISSE.

The ISSE is managed as a national collaborative of higher education institutions, national agencies and the Union of Students in Ireland. Most of this statement refers to data relating to implementation of the survey. Students in participating institutions are presented at registration with a data collection notice which explicitly mentions the ISSE. This website collects the bare minimum information from visitors’ devices (such as country). Comments are disabled by default so names, email addresses and similar data are not collected. Read on for details of data for the survey itself.

Students at particular stages of their studies are invited to participate in the Irish Survey of Student Engagement (ISSE).  This involves you choosing to respond to the survey, and your responses being linked to certain limited contextual demographic information such as course studied, full-time / part-time, age and nationality. This is used to inform analysis of results. The linking of responses with contextual demographic data means that you are not required to input additional information when responding to the survey. The demographic data is limited to non-sensitive data from your institution’s student record system. Any data that could be used to identify individuals (for example, student ID, date of birth) are removed before any results are returned by the external survey contractor to institutions or the national project. No student will be identifiable from any results or any reports produced as a result of the survey. Your participation in the survey is entirely voluntary, although participating institutions will actively encourage their students to take part.

So, in summary:

Some non-sensitive details from your institution’s student record system are used to enable you to receive an invitation to take part in the survey.

Your participation is entirely voluntary and you can opt out from reminders.

Only anonymised data is returned to institutions by the external survey contractor.


The Irish Survey of Student Engagement is intended to ensure that students’ own perspectives on your experience of higher education are used to inform practice and policy in Irish higher education. Results are used mainly to inform enhancement and improvement activities within institutions, but national policy discussions will also be informed by the data.


Your responses will be used for research purposes only. Your participation in this research, together with your individual responses to the questions, will be kept strictly confidential in the resulting database by the survey company which is contracted to the Higher Education Authority. The results of this research will be anonymous, statistical information only, and we can assure you that you will NOT be identifiable in any published results. Data that could be used to identify individuals (for example, student ID, date of birth) are removed before any results are returned to institutions or the national project. This means that only anonymised data is used for analysis. Institutions will make use of this anonymous data to explore the experiences of different groups of students (for example, studying different subjects / full-time or part-time students) to inform actions to improve the experience of their students. We can assure you that any information you provide during this research will NOT be used for marketing, nor will we sell or pass on your information to any third party.


The results of the survey will be used as follows:

  • To produce a report of the findings of the Irish Survey of Student Engagement on an annual basis.
  • To provide summary feedback to individual institutions and students’ unions. Response data will be provided to institutions and students’ unions to help them to identify what is working effectively and, also, how they can make improvements. This summary feedback will be aggregated and anonymised, ensuring no individual student can be identified. These results may include the text of any comments that students provide at the end of the questionnaire. This text will not be attributed to individuals and students are advised to avoid making comments that could enable them to be individually identified, name individuals or make references that could identify an individual. Any names that may be included in responses are removed before data is returned.

A national Advisory Group, representing the partner organisations, will address any Data Protection issues or requests to undertake any additional analysis. Any additional requests to use the data will be considered by this group, taking account of the objectives and intent of the national survey project. All reports will only present anonymised and aggregated data. The results of the survey wil be stored securely by the Higher Education Authority (HEA). Summary reports will be published each year, using aggregated anonymous data only.


The Higher Education Authority (HEA) is the statutory planning and policy development body for higher education and research in Ireland. The Mission Statement of the HEA is “to foster the development of a higher education sector which is accessible to all potential students and which is recognised internationally for the high quality of teaching, learning and research and which has the capacity to address the changing needs and challenges in our society”.

The HEA is empowered by various legislative provisions to meet these requirements. The HEA Act 1971 states in section 11 that: “An institution of higher education shall supply to An tÚdarás all such information relative to the institution as An tÚdarás may require for the purpose of performing its functions”. Section 13 states that “An tÚdarás may institute and conduct studies on such problems of higher education and research as it considers appropriate and may publish reports of such studies.” The HEA regularly collects a range of data from institutions under its remit and the demographic data used to deliver the survey is limited to non-sensitive demographic data. This data and survey responses are anonymised by the external survey contractor before any data is returned.


Data Protection is the safeguarding of the privacy rights of individuals in relation to the processing of personal data, in both paper and electronic format. The terms of the Data Protection Acts 1988 and 2003 lay down strict rules about the way in which personal and sensitive personal data are collected, accessed, used and disclosed. The terms of the legislation also permit individuals to access their personal data on request, and confer on individuals the right to have their personal data amended if found to be incorrect.

The Statistics Section of the HEA continues to review and update its data protection policy and best practice on an ongoing basis in order to ensure full compliance with data protection legislation. It is required to process certain personal data in order to fulfil its purpose and comply with its legal obligations. Above all, the Statistics section of the HEA will process such information and data in accordance with the underlying principles of the Data Protection Acts as per Section 3 of the 2003 Amendment Act amending Section 2 of the Principal Act:

“The data or, as the case may be, the information constituting the data shall have been obtained, and the data shall be processed fairly. The data shall be accurate and complete and, where necessary, kept up to date,

i. shall have been obtained only for one or more specified, explicit and legitimate purposes,

ii. shall not be further processed in a manner incompatible with that purpose or those purposes,

iii. shall be adequate, relevant and not excessive in relation to the purpose or purposes for which they were collected or are further processed, and

iv. shall not be kept for longer than is necessary for that purpose or those purposes,

v. appropriate security measures shall be taken against unauthorised access to, or unauthorised alteration, disclosure or destruction of, the data, in particular where the processing involves the transmission of data over a network, and against all other unlawful forms of processing.”


Yes. Under the Data Protection Acts 1988 and 2003, certain categories of data controllers and data processors must register their details with the Data Protection Commissioner. As per the terms of the legislation, the HEA is required to register on an annual and ongoing basis with the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner. The HEA reference number is 1483/A. Details of data protection are also available on the HEA website.


Under the Data Protection Acts 1988 & 2003, you may make a data protection request to the HEA Statistics Section. Further details are provided here.

To make a Data Protection request to the HEA Statistics Section, you must:

Apply in writing / fax / email to make an appointment with the HEA Statistics Section. Present yourself at the HEA office with a photographic ID (Passport / Driving License) and a form of student ID / Social Security card with your PPSN.


The HEA, higher education institutions and the Union of Students of Ireland are committed to continuously improving the ISSE. Should you have a question, comment and/or complaint about this research please contact your local student union, local institution representative, or the ISSE project manager: