Reasons for Collecting Data
The Student Records System (SRS): In order for the HEA to fulfil its statutory functions, individual student level data has to available for analysis within the HEA. In order to link datasets, a unique identifier must be collected (PPSN) and in order to validate PPSN data, name and address must be collected. Address and Eircode are also required to assign a deprivation index score to each student based on home location. The SRS data is used on a daily basis to answer queries internally in the HEA and externally from the Department of Education and Skills, other Government bodies, higher education institutions, researchers, academics, journalists and members of the public. The SRS data is also used to inform the funding model in the HEA.
The Equal Access Survey (EAS): Equal Access Survey data is the primary source of data used to measure participation of disadvantaged groups and their outcomes in higher education. It is critical to measure the effectiveness of policy measures adopted by the Department of Education and Skills and the HEA contained in the National Plan for Equity of Access to Higher Education 2015 – 2019. Student level identifiable data are required to meet this requirement.
Graduate Outcomes Survey: HEIs carry out the survey on behalf of the HEA by contacting graduates during April-June of each year. Contact is determined by the systems in place in the HEIs and includes email, text message or phone follow-up. All graduates are asked the same questions and the HEIs have the option to include some of their own questions at the end of the survey. Only data pertinent to the survey are returned to the HEA. It should be noted that contact details or open-ended responses on course satisfaction etc. are not returned to the HEA. The anonymised aggregated data, as compiled by the HEA, is used to provide a picture of graduate employability and further study. Year on year, this provides trend information on labour market outcomes for graduates. The HEA publishes an annual report on graduates, What Do Graduates Do?, summarising the national picture. Furthermore, a summary of the first destination of graduates is detailed by institution in the Institutional and Sectoral Profiles. The data is also used at institutional level. For example, the results are used to inform programmatic and quality reviews, for marketing and alumni outreach, and as a key management information tool in the universities. From 2018 onwards, graduate survey data will be linked with SRS and Equal Access Survey data to analyse graduate outcomes using variables in these two databases (such as socio-economic group, CAO points on entry, and so on).
The Irish Survey of Student Engagement: The Irish Survey of Student Engagement data is required to measure levels of student engagement in their respective institutions. Student demographic data is contained within the dataset to allow for an analysis across the different student cohorts. This allows individual institutions to address specific issues, where they are reported.
The Eurostudent Survey: Eurostudent data allows for an analysis of the student experience across European countries and covers areas not available in other higher education datasets, such as student income and expenditure. Therefore, this acts as an increasingly important source of data on higher education students in Ireland.