and PGR are 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.

What is

What is
What is
What is PGR
What is PGR in 60 seconds in 60 seconds (the Irish Survey of Student Engagement) asks students about their experiences of higher education, including their academic, personal and social development, and how their institutions provide opportunities and support for this development. Approximately 374,670 students in first year undergraduate, final year undergraduate, and on taught postgraduate programmes have participated in the annual since 2013. 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.

Photo 1 from launch of

Photo 2 from launch of

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 (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 survey for postgraduate research students (Masters by Research and PhD) opens every second year during February – March for a three-week fieldwork period that is also specific to each institution. This survey was first run in 2018 and is now on a biennial survey cycle, with the next survey happening in spring 2025. 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. Approximately 13,350 postgraduate research students have taken part to date.

Photo 3 from launch of

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. The objectives of are:

  • To increase transparency in relation to the student experience of and engagement with higher education.
  • To enable direct student input in expressing their experience and engagement with their higher education institution.
  • To facilitate higher education institutions’ efforts to reflect that engagement and those experiences in their policy and practice in an impactful way.
  • To help institutions identify areas of strength in how students engage, so they can continue and strengthen these practices.
  • To help institutions identify areas requiring further development or improvement in how students engage so they can respond.
  • To serve as a guide for continual enhancement of institutions’ teaching and learning and student engagement.
  • To facilitate comparison with other higher education systems nationally, sectorally and internationally.

How are the surveys managed?

The 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 or to: Project Manager, c/o Mark Glynn & Co., Certified Public Accoutants and Audit Firm, 67 Wooddale Green, Ballycullen View, Dublin 24, D24 T1W9.