The Steering Group agreed in 2015 that the (Irish Survey of Student Engagement) survey instrument should undergo thorough periodic review approximately every five years. The Steering Group initiated the second periodic review of the survey instrument in early 2021. The Survey Review Group completed the review in December 2021.

Why did we review the questions?

  • It’s important for to review the questions we ask every few years to ensure they are still relevant, understandable, and reflect the experiences of students in their learning.
  • stakeholders felt that now was an important time to consider adding new questions and to consider the experiences of diverse student cohorts

How did we carry out the review?

  • A range of stakeholders from across Irish higher education provided their ideas and views.
  • The review group looked at a range of possible new topics and questions of interest to students.
  • hosted numerous focus groups with students to test out possible questions and gain their perspectives.
  • The review group published a report on the review, as well as a factsheet on student survey practices in other countries.

A Survey Review Group was formed. This group operated from March to December 2021. The Survey Review Group was chaired by Dr. Vivienne Patterson (Head of Skills, Engagement and Statistics, Higher Education Authority), who is also a member of the Steering Group. The Chair acted as the main liaison between the Survey Review Group and Steering Group. review – What has changed?

At we have been busy reviewing the questions that we normally ask to undergraduate and taught postgraduate students. As part of the review, we looked at student surveys from across the world, feedback from students, and recommendations from stakeholders across higher education. emojis

Revised objectives no longer refers to “satisfaction” in our objectives, emphasising the importance of the survey as a tool to support greater understanding of student learning experiences.

We’ve made some minor changes – what are they?

  • We made some small changes to some of the questions and removed 4 of the current questions.
  • All students will now be asked if they have ever considered withdrawing from their course of study
  • In 2022 we will ask new questions about how much students feel like they are developing social skills and skills related to learning.
Staff and student representatives from MTU & UCC
SU reps in GMIT holding emojis

We’ve also made some bigger changes, including…

  • In 2022, will pilot some new questions on the background of students who respond to the survey.
  • The new questions will allow students to self-identify with various characteristics, including disability, ethnicity, caring responsibilities, gender, socio-economic and socio-cultural status and sexual orientation. This data will be entirely anonymous.

Optional questions for 2022 – Topical Modules

Institutions will also be able to ask their students some questions on one of the following topics:  Career & Workforce Preparation, Civic Engagement, Experiences with Online Learning, and Inclusiveness and Engagement with Diversity.

Institutions may select one set of questions to add for all students as part of the pilot study in 2022. 

SU representatives from TU Dublin
PGR students holding emojis

International Comparators Factsheet

Desk-based research on international developments relating to similar student surveys in higher education was carried out.The results informed the Survey Review Group in their deliberations. The results were consolidated into the International Comparators Factsheet for use as a reference document by others.

Next Steps

After the 2022 pilot of the new questions, what will happen next?

  • The data from the new questions will be analysed at the national level only in 2022 – this means institutions will not receive the data from these questions.
  • The results will help to inform about the best approach to questions about students' backgrounds and to adding optional or topical questions.

Accompanying Documents