Make your student experience count: the Irish Survey of Student Engagement 2014.

Sean O’Reilly, Project Manager and joint co-ordinator for the Irish Survey of Student Engagement 2014, discusses the importance of student feedback on their third-level education experience.  He looks at how the invaluable information provided by the student survey will affect the future of third-level education in Ireland.

A new national student survey opens in 30 higher education institutions in February and March 2014. The Irish Survey of Student Engagement (ISSE) has its first full roll-out in 2014 following a successful pilot in 26 institutions in 2013. This is the first national survey of student engagement in Ireland and is the first system-wide survey of its kind in Europe. The ISSE is open to first year undergraduates, final year undergraduates and taught postgraduate students. Each participating institution has selected the most appropriate three-week period to open the survey for its students.

The survey is designed to collect information on student engagement. This will provide a valuable and informed insight into students’ experience of third-level education. Student engagement with college life is important to their overall development of key capabilities, such as critical thinking, problem-solving, writing skills, team work and communication skills.

More than 12,700 students took part in the pilot in 2013 and one of the questions discussed the survey itself. Here are some of their responses:

 “The survey was pretty interesting and made me reflect on my own academic year and my performance during classes. Overall it’s a very good survey.”

“I think the survey is a great idea. It is very important to allow the students to voice their opinions and I would appreciate it if the survey is asked to every student before they complete their studies.”

“I think it would be important that the results would be made available not only to university staff but to students as well.”

“I’m happy with this survey so far, and I hope the information provided will actually lead to action, more so than just providing the college with information.”


What’s the survey for?

It is recognised that students have a major contribution to make in the design of curricula, and in reviewing and providing feedback on their college experiences. Good student feedback on engagement and satisfaction will contribute to students experiencing an education that is relevant and responsive to their personal development and growth as fully engaged citizens within society. Both aspects are vital to a student’s progression into the labour market, harnessing their third-level education experience to guide their future career path. For further information on career development, visit

The main objective of this project is to develop a valuable source of information on the Irish third-level education system, based directly on student experiences. The results of the survey are intended to inform discussions at institutional level, while also informing national discussion and policy.

The project is co-sponsored by the Higher Education Authority (HEA), Institutes of Technology Ireland (IOTI), the Irish Universities Association (IUA) and the Union of Students in Ireland (USI). It is managed through a collaborative partnership structure representing participating institutions and sponsoring organisations.

Further information, including results from the 2013 pilot survey and dates for 2014, is available at

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