UCD students are being encouraged to take part in the Irish Survey of Student Engagement (ISSE) 2018. The national survey asks students in all third-level institutions to rate their experience in higher education.
The 2018 project features two distinct surveys. The normal survey is for first year undergraduates, final year undergraduates, and taught postgraduates, while new one is targeted at postgraduate research students. Everyone who takes part is automatically entered into a draw which has 50 prizes, including One4All vouchers, UCD Pool and Spa passes, UCD Food Market vouchers, and tickets to the UCD Ball. UCD confirmed that all students in the relevant years were emailed about participating in the survey. UCD Students’ Union (UCDSU) have also been promoting it on social media.
The ISSE lists eight main aims of the survey, including increased ‘transparency in relation to the student experience in higher education institutions’, the identification of ‘issues and challenges affecting the student experience’, and to ‘document the experiences of the student population, thus enabling year on year comparisons of key performance indicators.’ The ISSE is sponsored by the Higher Education Authority (HEA), institutions’ representative bodies, and the Union of Students in Ireland (USI).
Institutions receive anonymised data based on responses from their own students, but the publicly published survey results only includes data based on total respondents. The 2017 survey stated that UCD’s participation rate was 23.8% of ‘target student cohorts that responded to at least some survey questions.’ This was the third lowest participation rate out of the seven universities, with University College Cork and the University of Limerick having lower rates of 19.5% and 14.3% respectively. Only the National University of Ireland Galway (NUIG) managed to break the 30% participation rate for universities, with several Institutes of Technology recording the highest percentages of participation.
The first national survey was carried out in 2013. The project is based on the National Strategy for Higher Education to 2030 Report’s recommendation that institutions should attempt to collect anonymous student feedback to help improve the educational experience, alongside national policy. The current format of the survey was introduced in 2016, and has been taken by over 65,000 students during the past two years.
Cian Carton – Editor