Student/Staff Surveys and Privacy

As the popularity of surveys grows, and in particular as Web-based technologies are more frequently used to carry out surveys, many of our student surveys request a student Id, either directly or from the username the student enters when they authenticate.

Both of these methods involve obtaining identifying information about students. Some concern was raised at the October 2004 meeting of the Planning and Resources Committee (PRC) about the privacy issues potentially raised by this practice. A working party was established to examine the issues involved with collecting information in surveys which identifies students.

The working party established a plain language statement to explain to students participating in surveys why identifying information was needed and how it would be used. This statement was designed to be suitable for the majority of student surveys. In November 2004, the Vice-Chancellor accepted the recommendation of PRC that the plain language statement set out below be adopted.

Plain Language Statement

Your responses to this survey are anonymous (i.e., information allowing you to be identified will not be linked to the responses you make), and will be kept confidential (i.e., individual responses will not be revealed to anyone).

We have asked students for their student identification so that we can validate student responses; that is, ensure that only students from the group are surveyed, and that no student completes the survey more than once. The student identification number may also be used to link with other information already on record in the University such as students’ campus of study, their gender, etc. Access to such extra demographic information will allow the University to carry out more detailed analysis of students’ responses. With more detailed analysis, the University can provide services and support that are better targeted.

After we have performed the processes of validation and linking with demographic information if necessary, we will separate student identification from your responses.

Finally, we point out that the results of this survey will be reported in summarised form and no information which identifies you or any other student is disclosed in the survey reports.


  • If you are not directly asking for a student identification number, you may wish to substitute the wording for "In participating in the survey you are required to log in using your student username. This will enable us to validate student responses ..."

  • If you are not using student identification to link to other demographic data you may omit these references.

  • However, all staff and student surveys must have a plain language statement.

  • Every survey should have an introduction which states the aims of the survey, gives the contact details of the survey sponsor group and indicates where the survey results or reports will be published.

Please do not hesitate to contact please contact the Manager, Institutional Research and Surveys, Wendy Marchment if you have any questions about the plain language statement or if you require assistance with developing your survey.