Appendix 5 Project rationale and governance
The National Strategy for Higher Education to 2030, published in 2011, recommended that higher education institutions put in place systems to capture feedback from students to inform institutional and programme management, as well as national policy. It also recommended that every higher education institution put in place a comprehensive anonymous student feedback system, coupled with structures to ensure that action is taken promptly in relation to student concerns. This recommendation was informed by legislation (namely, reference to the involvement of students in evaluating the quality of their educational experience in the Universities Act, 1997, and the Qualifications (Education and Training) Act, 1999) and other key policy drivers, such as Standards and Guidance for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area and Common Principles for Student Involvement in Quality Assurance/Quality Enhancement. The National Strategy report noted in 2011 that “substantial progress (in this area) has been made” but also stated that “students still lack confidence in the effectiveness of current mechanisms and there remains considerable room for improvement in developing student feedback mechanisms and in closing feedback loops.”
In 2012, a national project structure was established, which was representative of higher education institutions and relevant organisations, including the Union of Students in Ireland. This project team implemented a pilot national student survey called the Irish Survey of Student Engagement in 2013, involving all Universities, Institutes of Technology, and most Colleges of Education. The national pilot was regarded as successful, leading to an agreement to proceed to full implementation in 2014 and future years. A full report on implementation of the 2013 national pilot and other resources and results from subsequent years’ implementation are published on www.studentsurvey.ie.
A significant development was achieved in 2018 with the pilot Irish Survey of Student Engagement for Postgraduate Research Students. This discrete question set was offered to the body of students enrolled on programmes leading to postgraduate research degrees. The questions draw extensively from the Postgraduate Research Experience Survey (PRES) used in the UK. The StudentSurvey.ie PGR Working Group continues to oversee the bedding down of the survey.
 National Strategy for Higher Education to 2030 (www.hea.ie/assets/uploads/2017/06/National-Strategy-for-Higher-Education-2030.pdf)
 Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area (www.enqa.eu/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/ESG_2015.pdf)
 Student Involvement in Quality Assurance/Quality Enhancement (https://www.ucd.ie/t4cms/iheqncommonprinciplesstudentinvolvementdec2009.doc.pdf)
The Irish Survey of Student Engagement and the Irish Survey of Student Engagement for Postgraduate Research Students were rebranded in 2019 and are now known as StudentSurvey.ie and PGR StudentSurvey.ie respectively.
Implementation of StudentSurvey.ie and PGR StudentSurvey.ie is funded by the Higher Education Authority (HEA) as a shared service for participating institutions. The project is co-sponsored by the HEA, Irish Universities Association (IUA), Technological Higher Education Association (THEA), and Union of Students in Ireland (USI) (Fig. 6.8).
A representative national Steering Group maintains strategic direction for the project. In 2019, this group was reduced in number and the primary focus on strategic direction re-affirmed. It now consists of a representative of each of the co-sponsoring organisations, two representatives from the university sector, two representatives from the technological higher education sector, one representative from Quality and Qualifications Ireland, and the StudentSurvey.ie Project Manager. The group is called the StudentSurvey.ie Steering Group.
In addition, there are a number of Groups addressing specific elements of the project (Fig. 6.8). A full-time StudentSurvey.ie Project Manager leads developments and ensures coherence and consistency between the various elements of the project.