StudentSurvey.ie and PGR StudentSurvey.ie reflect many aspects of students’ experiences in higher education. It is designed to focus on student engagement, namely the amount of time and effort that students put into meaningful and purposeful educational activities, and the extent to which institutions provide such opportunities and encourage students to engage with them. The data collected reflects students’ self-reported perceptions of their experiences and this data set is one of many sources of evidence available to institutions to inform their enhancement activities.
What is StudentSurvey.ie?
StudentSurvey.ie is for first year and final year undergraduate and taught postgraduate students. It opens each year during February – March for a three-week fieldwork period that is specific to each institution. The first survey was carried out in 2013 and has run every spring since then.
Following the original survey used in 2013-2015, a revised and shortened survey was introduced in 2016. More than 160,000 students have responded to this version of the survey from since 2016. These students have created a large and valuable data set of their experiences of higher education. Participating institutions and the national project team are very grateful for their time and contribution.
Why ask these questions?
When the Irish national survey was being piloted, project working groups reviewed international experiences and decided to use established engagement surveys as the basis for formulating StudentSurvey.ie (formerly known as the Irish Survey of Student Engagement). In particular, the survey questions used in Australia and New Zealand (the Australasian Survey of Student Engagement or AUSSE) were determined to be the most appropriate starting point. The AUSSE was based on the US National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) which had been in use since 2000.
The related survey for postgraduate research students (Research Masters and PhD) also opens every second year during February – March for a three-week fieldwork period that is also specific to each institution. 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 several institutions. This survey was first run on 2018 and is now on a bi-annual survey cycle, with the next survey happening in spring 2021.
Why do we run these surveys?
The main reason for the surveys is to provide benefits to each institution and its students by helping to improve feedback and appropriate follow up 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.
How are the surveys managed?
The StudentSurvey.ie initiative 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. An external third party company provides the online survey system to the national partnership.
All queries are very welcome and should be directed to [email protected] or to:
StudentSurvey.ie Project Manager, c/o THEA, Fumbally Square, Fumbally Lane, Dublin 8, D08 XYA5.