The Irish Survey of Student Engagement (ISSE), 2017

Study number (SN): 0030-04


Irish Survey of Student Engagement. (2018). The Irish Survey of Student Engagement (ISSE), 2017. [dataset]. Version 1. Irish Social Science Data Archive. SN: 0030-04.



The central aim of Irish Survey of Student Engagement (ISSE) is to develop a valuable source of information about students’ experiences of higher education in Ireland. The results of the survey are intended primarily to add value at institutional level, and to inform national policy. A detailed online survey was offered to first year undergraduates, final year undergraduates and postgraduate students on taught programmes. Data are presented as responses to individual items and as calculated scores for eleven indices that relate to broad aspects of student engagement, such as Collaborative Learning and Higher Order Learning. The ISSE has formative links with the US National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) and the Australasian Survey of Student Engagement (AUSSE). Thus, Irish data can be evaluated in the context of other jurisdictions in addition to the national or sector contexts. Note that a there was a substantial revision of questions deployed in 2016 which limits the extent to which 2016 data may be compared to data from previous years.

Student engagement may be defined as students’ involvement in activities and environments that are likely to generate high-quality learning. Students are ultimately responsible for their own learning but this depends on institutions and staff creating an Page 4 environment that encourages and promotes student involvement in educationally-relevant activities. Student engagement with higher education is seen as being enhanced through exposing students to a high quality learning environment. Measuring engagement can provide a means to develop a fuller understanding of the student experience above and beyond that ascertained through surveys of student satisfaction alone.

More than 35,800 students from twenty seven institutions responded to the survey which was undertaken in February – March 2017. 



  • Higher Education
  • Student Behaviour
  • Student Engagement
  • Student Participation
  • Students (College)




The survey was offered as a voluntary census survey to all first year undergraduate students, final year undergraduate students and postgraduate students pursuing taught programmes in state-funded higher education institutions. 

Observation units

  • Individual
  • Institutions / Organisations 

Temporal coverage

From 02/2017 to 03/2017

Each participating institutions selected the most appropriate three week period for local fieldwork from the overall national fieldwork period.

Time dimension

Repeated cross-sectional study on an annual basis

Geographical coverage

Country: Ireland

Methods of data collection

  • CASI (Computer Assisted Self Interviewing)

Sampling procedures

All members of the target cohort (first year undergraduate, final year undergraduate, taught postgraduate higher education students) were invited to participate in the survey.

Response rate

The overall national response rate was 27.2%. The response rate for subgroups are given on page 13 of the national report.



Data (available through ISSDA application process)

File name

File format/s

Contents of file


SPSS data

National survey dataset


Text / SPSS syntax

SPSS syntax

Documentation (available for download)

File name

File format/s

Content of file



2017 Questionniare, questions used since 2016  






National report



ISSE website:

Coates, Hamish, and Alexander C. McCormick. "Engaging University Students." International Insights from System-Wide Studies.Springer, 2014. Available at:



Accessing the data

To access the data, please complete a request form for research purposes, sign it, and send it to ISSDA by email.

For teaching purposes, please complete the ISSDA Data Request Form for Teaching Purposes, and follow the procedures, as above. Teaching requests are approved on a once-off module/workshop basis. Subsequent occurrences of the module/workshop require a new teaching request form.

Data will be disseminated on receipt of a fully completed, signed form. Incomplete or unsigned forms will be returned to the data requester for completion.


The dataset is generated from a national collaborative partnership of the Higher Education Authority, participating higher education institutions and the Union of Students in Ireland.


Any work based in whole or part on resources provided by the ISSDA, should  acknowledge: “The Irish Survey of Student Engagement (ISSE), 2017" and also ISSDA, in the following way: “Accessed via the Irish Social Science Data Archive -”.

Citation requirement

The data and its creators shall be cited in all publications and presentations for which the data have been used. The bibliographic citation may be in the form suggested by the archive or in the form required by the publication.

Bibliographical citation

Irish Survey of Student Engagement. (2018). The Irish Survey of Student Engagement (ISSE), 2017. [dataset]. Version 1. Irish Social Science Data Archive. SN: 0030-04.


The user shall notify the Irish Social Science Data Archive of all publications where she or he has used the data.