Review of Student Feedback

The aim of this project was to ensure that student surveys are coherent and meet all the needs in the feedback landscape. At UCC the views of students are central to improving teaching, research and student services and to the quality review process. Student surveys are an important tool for students to provide feedback on university experiences, educational quality, institutional effectiveness and student satisfaction, and play an important role in the involvement of students in university management and governance at UCC. However, the number of student surveys at UCC has increased dramatically in recent years and lack of over-arching coordination of student surveys during this expansion has led to a number of issues for both students and staff. These include:

  • Over-surveying of some student groups creating confusion and frustration
  • Survey fatigue causing students to become disengaged
  • Reduced survey response rates compromising data quality
  • Duplication of effort
  • Limited evidence of closing the loop
  • Concern over tools employed and ethics
  • Lack of oversight and of clarity around roles and responsibilities

This project conducted a review of student surveys at UCC, including the Student Experience Survey, the Irish Survey of Student Engagement, individual Module Surveys and surveys related to quality reviews of academic and support departments. This review considered the policy context; governance; survey tools; data storage and dissemination; closing the loop; and associated resources. It identified international best practice and developed a set of recommendations aimed at enhancing the governance of student surveys at UCC to support long-term change in this area to ensure a coordinated approach to surveying student opinion. It informed the development of an institutional policy on student surveys aimed at minimising duplication of effort and survey fatigue and enhancing the effectiveness of student involvement and engagement.

This review included: a mapping of existing student surveys at UCC; national and international benchmarking exercises; a review of relevant literature; and internal and external consultations. The review and the recommendations arising from it are central to UCC’s commitment to improve the teaching and learning experience for all students by enhancing student assessment, feedback and survey processes. It is also aligned with the recommendation by the National Strategy for Higher Education to 2030 that every higher education institution should put in place a comprehensive anonymous student feedback system to inform institutional and programme/course development, as well as national policy.

To address the lack of a university strategy with respect to management of student surveys this review recommended that UCC create and maintain a number of specially constituted groups with responsibility for student surveying activity. These were:

  • A University Student Surveys Board, responsible for the development and implementation of UCC’s student survey strategy across all organisational levels.
  • A University Student Surveys Support Unit, responsible for the management and co-ordination of student surveys and for the appropriate dissemination and utilisation of survey data.
  • A Student Surveys Ethics Committee, responsible for the ethical assessment of student survey requests.

Student surveys are just one component of student feedback, and other forms of feedback and of the student voice in university governance. All other forms of feedback were outside the scope of the project. Student surveys instigated by external parties were also lie outside the scope. 

Connecting, Listening and Enhancing: placing student perceptions of their educational experience at the heart of decision making at UCC

Project Report
Review of Student Surveys at UCC 2017 (1,046kB)

Project Sponsors
The Office of the Vice President for Teaching and Learning, together with the Student Experience Office and the Quality Promotion Unit

Project Start Date
1st February 2017


Office of the VP for Teaching and Learning

East Wing, Main Quadrangle, UCC