The results of this year’s Irish Survey of Student Engagement (Suirbhé na hÉireann ar Rannpháirtíocht na Mac Léinn; StudentSurvey.ie) and Irish Survey of Student Engagement for Postgraduate Research Students (Suirbhé na hÉireann ar Rannpháirtíocht na Mac Léinn do Mhic Léinn Taighde Iarchéime; PGR StudentSurvey.ie) confirm that COVID-19 substantially impacted on the lives of students in higher education.
The findings were published in two in-depth reports launched by Senator Annie Hoey and are available on the StudentSurvey.ie website.
Almost 44,000 first and final year undergraduate students and students on taught postgraduate programmes across 25 higher education institutions took part in StudentSurvey.ie between February and March 2021. The overall response rate of the survey was 28.4% of the total survey population.
The percentage of students agreeing with each statement in the survey is lower than 2020 in almost every single area – indicating the major impact that COVID-19 had on students during the 2020-2021 academic year. The results suggest that there was a lower perception of engagement by respondents this year compared to the 2019-2020 academic year.
The results also confirm that the undergraduate experience of first year students was particularly negatively affected by the impact of COVID-19. First year undergraduate students who entered higher education in the 2020-2021 academic year returned scores that were statistically significantly lower than the baseline first year undergraduate respondents (2017-2018, 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 academic years combined) for nearly all areas of the survey.
- 47.0% of first year undergraduate students indicated that the quality of their interactions with other students was excellent, or close to excellent, in 2021.
The average from surveys in 2018-2020 was 80.3%.
- 37.2% of first year undergraduate students indicated that the quality of their interactions with academic staff was excellent, or close to excellent, in 2021.
The average from surveys in 2018-2020 was 64.1%.
- 26.4% of first year undergraduate students prepared for exams by discussing or working through course material with other students often or very often in 2021.
The average from surveys in 2018-2020 was 44.5%.
- 12.2% of first year undergraduate students believed that their institution emphasised social opportunities very much in 2021.
The average from surveys in 2018-2020 was 23.2%.
- 33.7% of first year undergraduate students discussed course topics, ideas, or concepts with academic staff outside of class in 2021.
The average from surveys in 2018-2020 was 48.8%.