Student Survey Policy and Procedures

Application

All staff members and students of Waipapa Taumata Rau, the University of Auckland.

Purpose

To ensure a consistent and co-ordinated approach across the University to surveying students.

Introduction

Student surveys are an important source of information on the student experience and one of the ways in which the University seeks and responds to student voices.

The co-ordination and oversight provided through this policy ensures that the surveys of students are managed to minimise over-surveying of the student population and to maximise response rates for institutional surveys. 

Policy

1. All surveys of students initiated by a member of the University community must comply with existing University policy, and the principles and methodologies of survey design and conduct including:

  • voluntary participation of students
  • a clear focus or aim
  • a design and methodology that ensures validity, reliability and accuracy, and supports evidence-based judgements and decisions. This includes careful consideration of whether the information is best obtained through a survey sample, or through a census approach
  • a clear statement for potential respondents that includes:
    • the intended use of the information collected
    • whether the survey is anonymous or confidential
    • how student privacy and confidentiality will be protected in data collection and reporting
    • how respondents will be able to access a summary of findings from the survey
    • the terms and conditions associated with any incentive prizes offered

Notes:  See item (7) for further details on UAHPEC requirements for surveys of students for academic research purposes.

Incentive prizes must be considered carefully and must be appropriate for all students (including remote students) and in keeping with University policies on conflict of interest and sustainability.

2. The following are core institutional surveys:

  • Learning and Teaching Survey (annual)
  • New Students Survey (annual)
  • Graduate Destination Survey (every two years)
  • International Student Barometer (every two years)
  • Doctoral Experience Survey (annual)
  • Graduate Destination Survey (every two years).

3. To protect the University’s core institutional surveys, surveys of students initiated by members of the University community - whether undertaken for academic research, institutional research, or other purposes - must be approved by the Pro Vice Chancellor (Education) (PVC(E)) before students are contacted about the survey. This includes where an external organisation is contracted to survey University of Auckland students.

4. Exemptions to the requirement for PVC(E) approval include:

  • smaller-scale surveys of students undertaken for academic research purposes
  • service feedback surveys that are characterised by targeting a clearly defined user-group within the student population (e.g. a survey seeking feedback on accommodation services that is distributed to users of University accommodation)
  • structured focus group activities undertaken by academic units or service divisions
  • course and teaching evaluation surveys
  • the annual Auckland University Students Association (AUSA) survey on the Student Services Levy; and small-scale surveys conducted by AUSA

5. The PVC(E) will base their decision on the potential impact of the survey on the student population, its proposed timing and (for institutional surveys), strategic relevance.

6. Applications for annual or recurrent surveys of students will be considered carefully for alignment with the University’s strategic objectives and potential impact on recurrent institutional surveys.

Surveys of students for academic research purposes

7. All surveys of students for the purpose of academic research require ethics approval from the University of Auckland Human Participants Ethics Committee (UAHPEC).

8. PVC(E) approval for large-scale surveys of students for academic research purposes must be sought concurrently with UAHPEC approval.

Note - UAHPEC ethics approval is for a three-year period.

9. It is the responsibility of the principal investigator to ensure that both UAHPEC and PVC(E) approvals are granted before large-scale research surveys are undertaken.

Reporting

10. Survey sponsors for institutional research surveys approved under this policy must provide a copy of survey results, or a summary report, to the Academic Quality Office. Surveys conducted by AUSA are excepted from this requirement.

11. Survey sponsors, or principal investigators for academic research surveys, are responsible for ensuring that survey participants can learn about survey results and outcomes.

12. The PVC(E) is to report annually on survey activity and outcomes, where possible, to Education Committee.

13. The approval status of non-core institutional and other recurrent surveys of students approved under this Policy is to be reviewed by Education Committee every three years.

14. Survey sponsors and principal investigators are responsible for ensuring appropriate protection of respondent identity and confidentiality, and for ensuring the appropriate  access to data in keeping with the Data Governance Policy.

Note - Survey data for core institutional surveys are retained in accordance with the Records Management Policy.

Procedures

15. Survey sponsors must consult the Student Survey Policy and Register and/or contact the Academic Quality Office, for the current schedule and scope of approved student surveys. 

Note - the Register and Calendar are maintained by the Academic Quality Office.

16. Applications for DVC(A) approval of a proposed student survey must be made using the Student Survey Proposal form and will be coordinated through the Academic Quality Office. See Survey Approval Process diagram. Applications must include:

  • the approval of the relevant director or faculty dean 
  • a rationale for opting to use a survey to gather the data as well as detailing other methods of data collection that have been considered.
  • information about the intended approach for analysis and reporting.
  • specific information about requirements when access to University student data forms part of the survey project.

Note - the Planning and Information Office provides data for approved institutional surveys and must be given a reasonable period of notice for such a requirement.

17. Where a sampling approach is used, consideration must be given to ensuring the representative weighting of groups in the sample, including equity groups.  The sample must include only actively enrolled students and depending on the nature of the survey, consideration should be given to including students with a minimum EFTS load.

18. If the proposed survey is conducted by an external organisation contracted through the University, appropriate procedures must be in place to safeguard the privacy of student information. 

19. The University has a site licence for the survey tool, Qualtrics, which may be used as a platform for online surveys.

20. The PVC(E) may request changes to proposed survey timings and may request that data are collected through methods other than a survey of students.

21. A decision is to be returned within two weeks of submission of a completed application form.

22. The Academic Quality Office is to advise the survey sponsor or principal investigator of the PVC(E)’s decision, and any conditions that may apply.

23.  Changes made to the timing or methodology of an approved survey must be notified to the Academic Quality Office.

24. Survey sponsors may contact the Academic Quality Office (quality@auckland.ac.nz) to discuss survey proposals or approval procedures.

Definitions

The following definitions apply to this document:

Academic research means original, independent investigation undertaken by staff members or students.

Anonymous means responses are not linked to student data and the identity of respondents is not known. 

Census approach means collecting data about all individuals (i.e. students) in a population.  

Confidential means survey invitations and responses are linked to student data, but steps are taken to ensure an individual’s data is protected. 

Enrolled students means all students enrolled at the University and includes students in University foundation programmes and students in programmes delivered by partner organisations including Taylors College and UP Education.  

Institutional research surveys of the student population are those intended to assist the University to achieve its strategic objectives by informing institutional planning, policy development and decision-making in areas related to the student experience.

Large-scale survey means a survey population of 1000 students or more.

Sample survey means data are collected from a sub-set of the population and these data are used to estimate the characteristics of the whole population.

Smaller-scale survey means a survey population of fewer than 1000 students.

Staff members refers to individuals employed by the University on a full or part-time basis.

Student population means prospective students; currently enrolled students; or recent graduates of the University. 

Survey means a set of structured questions that require recorded responses from an individual.

Survey sponsor means the person requesting the survey to be conducted.

University means Waipapa Taumata Rau, the University of Auckland and includes all subsidiaries.

University community means all full and part-time staff members and students of the University.

Key relevant documents

Document management and control

Owned by: Pro Vice-Chancellor Education
Content manager: Manager, Academic Quality Office
Approved by: Council
Date approved: 8 December 2021
Review date: 8 December 2026