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UCD Office of Research Ethics

An Oifig Eitic Thaighde UCD

University Student Survey Board

The University Student Survey Board (USSB) ensures that a co-ordinated approach is taken across the University to surveying student opinion, regardless of where the survey originates.

Surveys of students are widely recognised as an important element in providing information that can maintain and assure education quality and improve institutional effectiveness and student satisfaction.  Surveys may ask questions about opinions, preferences, attitudes and expectations that students have concerning aspects of their university experience, or student behaviour.  Typically, survey results are used in conjunction with other indicators to provide guidance on such matters as needs identification, priority setting, policy development, evaluation and performance monitoring, and decision-making.

All University-wide surveys of student opinion will be co-ordinated through the University Student Survey Board (USSB). Co-ordination of the student survey process permits creation of an institutional data-base that includes data from University-wide surveys.  Consolidation of the data provides a central source that can be consulted and further analysed as required by interested members of University staff, which can facilitate strategic planning and be used to assist in external reporting requirements.

The purpose of the USSB is to ensure that:

  • a consistently high quality of survey design, conduct, analysis and reporting is maintained
  • specific and institutional needs for information can be combined, where appropriate, in the same data collection
  • student surveys are well co-ordinated with strategic priorities and needs
  • students are not asked similar questions through two or more surveys within a short period of time, risking ‘survey fatigue’
  • the timing of survey administration is co-ordinated during the course of the academic year (Please see Annual Student Survey Calendar
  • longitudinal trends in student opinion can be tracked
  • reports on student sub-groups and thematic issues can be produced
  • synergies can be achieved that will result in more effective use of available resources
  • a consolidated student survey data-base can be assembled over time
  • institution-wide expertise concerning surveys can be identified and drawn upon at all stages of the process



‘University-wide’ student survey is a survey:

  • where the target population comprises students drawn from two or more schools


  • where the survey encompasses university-wide activities or services

A University-wide survey might be, for example, a survey of all postgraduate students, international students, first-year students, female students, a cohort of students etc.  It would include surveys of students from two or more schools concerning one or more specific services, e.g., computing resources, accommodation, or library services. It would also include a survey of students undertaken by an external organization. 

A University-wide survey may be paper-based and/or electronic in format.  It could also include focus groups or individual interviews.



Obtaining Permission to conduct a Survey:

Proposals for University-wide surveys must be submitted to the USSB for approval by the Board.  This is done via the Human Research Ethics Application Form or Exemption Form and can only be porcessed  after the ethical review.  The Office of Research Ethics will process any request to carry out a campus-wide survey.

The USSB will convey decisions concerning surveys to the relevant sponsor and will provide feedback on the decision taken. The Board may request additional information and defer its decision until receipt of a revised proposal. The sponsor will be informed if the results of the survey will be required for the University database. 


Further queries should be addressed to




[1] where the target population comprises students drawn from  two or more Schools and/or the survey encompasses university-wide activities or services