Introduction

StudentSurvey.ie, whose full name is the Irish Survey of Student Engagement (“our”, “we”), aims to ask students at different stages of their time in higher education about their experience there. Responses from students within each institution are used to inform improvement activities within that institution. National datasets are also made to inform national policy discussions.

StudentSurvey.ie values your privacy and recognises the need to process your personal data in a fair and lawful manner in accordance with the legal rules laid out in the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Irish Data Protection Act 2018. Student confidentiality is a central principle of StudentSurvey.ie. This privacy notice will provide you with information about the personal data we collect and how that personal data is processed. StudentSurvey.ie is the Data Controller for personal data we process about you.

For further general information on how the StudentSurvey.ie operates, please refer to the Information notice [insert link].

What data do we collect?

As a student, you provide personal data to the institution which you are enrolled with. The institution which you are enrolled with will share some of your personal data with the survey company to enable you to undertake the survey.

Your institution will securely transfer the following information about every student invited to take the survey to the survey company:

  • First name [removed before the data are released by survey company]
  • Student ID [removed before the data are released by survey company]
  • Student email address [removed before the data are released by survey company]
  • Institute Code – the institution you attend
  • Academic Unit 1 (school, college or equivalent; optional)
  • Academic Unit 2 (department, faculty or equivalent; optional)
  • Course Code – the course you are studying
  • Date of Birth [changed to year of birth before the data are released by survey company]
  • Student gender – categorised as male, female, gender non-binary and prefer not to say
  • Student Code – new entrant, re-enrolled, repeat OR transferred from another course/ institution
  • Mode of Study – Full-time, Part-time, Distance learning, E-learning, OR in-service education
  • Programme Type – Undergraduate General Degree, Undergraduate Honours Degree, Undergraduate Diploma, Undergraduate Certificate, Postgraduate Diploma, Postgraduate Certificate, OR Masters Taught (Postgraduate)
  • Level of Study - Higher Cert HETAC and DIT/Advanced Cert (FETAC), Ordinary Bachelor Degree, Honours Bachelor Degree/Higher Diploma, OR Masters Degree/ Postgraduate Diploma
  • Non Standard attendance - Exam-only, Postgraduate Qualifier, Visiting/Occasional/JYA 1 Term, Visiting/Occasional/JYA 2 Terms, or Visiting/Occasional/JYA Full Year
  • Exchange - Erasmus/Life Long Learning Programme outgoing, or Other Exchange outgoing
  • Course Title
  • Field of Study – the course code is categorised into one of the ISCED (International Standard Classification of Education) categories
  • Year of Study
  • Domiciliary of Origin – country of birth/ where you came from before studying in Ireland
  • County – current address by county
  • Postal Code – if county is Dublin, further refined by postal code
  • Residence – categorised as Parental Home, College Accommodation (includes off-campus), Rented Accomm, Own Home (house, apartment), Other Accomm, Not Specified

The survey company removes identifiable information (name, student number and the date of birth is limited to year only) and assigns each student with a unique ID. This means that the data is now pseudonymised. This means that the results are anonymous but, if they were combined with some other data, there is a slight chance an individual could be identified. The survey company then sends this pseudonymised data to the StudentSurvey.ie for further quality checks.

When you take the survey, your responses are saved regularly. This allows you to complete part of the survey at one time and complete it at another time. It also facilitates collection of data even if you does not finish the survey.

Purpose and legal basis for processing

We rely on your consent in order to process your personal data. You provide this consent to the survey company when you agree to participate in the survey.

The purpose of the survey is:

  • Enable Institutions to make use of the survey results 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.
  • Enable Institutions and students’ unions will use the results to help them to identify what is working effectively and, also, how they can make improvements.
  • Enable the central project management team produce a report of the findings of StudentSurvey.ie on an annual basis.

Provide, occasionally, access to a third party, e.g. a researcher, to anonymised data collected through StudentSurvey.ie for research purposes. A high-level group called the StudentSurvey.ie Steering Group, which represents the co-sponsoring organisations and the institutions participating in StudentSurvey.ie, considers each of these requests. Any requests to use the data will be considered by this group, and they always consider the goals of the national survey project when they do so. In the case of an application being accepted, only anonymised data will be released to that third party. This means that they will not be able to know which institution a specific person was studying in and will not be able to match the answers to any one person.

Allow anonymised data sets of StudentSurvey.ie to be archived in the Irish Social Science Data Archive (ISSDA). Access is only granted following a written application to ISSSA.

The survey data WILL NOT:

  • identify any one individual student or small group of students
  • be used for marketing
  • be sold
  • be passed on to any third party without the consent of the StudentSurvey.ie Steering Group.

Who do we share personal data with?

StudentSurvey.ie receive pseudonymised personal data from the survey company. StudentSurvey.ie reviews this data for quality control purposes.

StudentSurvey.ie will share the pseudonymised survey results, which may contain personal data, with the institutions.

In some instances, StudentSurvey.ie may provide the survey results to a third party (e.g a researcher). In the case of an application for access to the data by a third party being accepted, only anonymised data will be released to that third party.

StudentSurvey.ie may also share the pseudonymised survey results, which may contain personal data, with the Higher Educational Authority (“HEA”).

In circumstances where StudentSurvey.ie shares personal data, it will enter into a relevant data protection agreement to ensure that the personal data is shared in accordance with the data protection legislation.

Who do we transfer personal data to?

The survey is conducted by an external survey company (“survey company”) that has been contracted by the HEA in order to conduct the survey. The company currently contracted to conduct the survey is a company called i-Graduate, which is based in the United Kingdom. The survey company operates under contract (as a Data Processor) with the HEA.

Once Brexit take place, StudentSurvey.ie will take appropriate steps to ensure that adequate safeguards are in place to ensure that the transfer of your personal data is in accordance with the data protection legislation.

How long do we store your personal data for?

StudentSurvey.ie holds the pseudonymised survey results indefinitely for the purposes of longitudinal analysis and for archiving purposes in the public interest and for statistical purposes.

How do we keep your personal data secure?

StudentSurvey.ie employs reasonable appropriate administrative and technical measures to safeguard personal data against loss, theft and unauthorised uses access, uses or modifications. For example, when we share your personal data with third parties, we will put in place a written agreement which commits the third parties to keep your information confidential, and to put in place appropriate security measures to keep your information secure.

Your rights:

Your rights as regards the personal data we hold on you depends on the applicable laws in your country of residence.

If you reside in the European Economic Area (“EEA”), you have the right to request that we:

provide you with information as to whether we process your data and details relating to our processing, and with a copy of your data;

rectify any inaccurate data we might have about your without undue delay;

complete any incomplete information about you;

under certain circumstances, erase your personal data without undue delay;

under certain circumstances, be restricted from processing your data; and

under certain circumstances, furnish you with the personal data which you provided us within a structured, commonly used and machine readable format.

Where we process your personal data solely on the basis of your consent you have the right to withdraw consent in respect of processing personal data. After taking the survey, if you want to withdraw your consent you must contact the survey company at info[email protected] by the 1st of May of the same year you undertake the survey.

You also have the right to lodge a complaint with your data protection supervisory authority.

The exercise of the above rights might be subject to certain conditions and we might require further information from you before we can respond to your request.

If you would like to exercise your rights, please let us know by getting in touch with us at [email protected] We will process your request within 30 days of receipt.

Queries, contacts, right of complaint

You can contact the StudentSurvey.ie project manager at [email protected] or by writing to StudentSurvey.ie Project Manager, c/o THEA, Fumbally Square, Fumbally Lane, Dublin 8, D08 XYA5. You can also contact your local student union or your local institution representative (please see www.studentsurvey.ie to find out who that is).

You have a right to lodge a complaint with the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner. While we recommend that you raise any concerns or queries with us first, you may contact that Office at [email protected] or by writing to the Data Protection Commissioner, Canal House, Station Road, Portarlington, Co. Laois. If you reside in the EEA, you can find out more information about your rights at https://www.dataprotection.ie.