HEA Student Data Collection Notice

Who we are (data controllers)

The HEA has a statutory responsibility for the effective governance and regulation of the higher education system pursuant to the Higher Education Authority Act 1971 and subsequent amending legislation which has extended its remit to encompass institutes of technology and more recently technological universities. In order to discharge its functions effectively it must process certain categories of personal information. The relevant legislation in relation to the data processing that involves the work of the HEA are the following:

  • The Higher Education Authority Act 1971
  • Social Welfare Act 2005
  • Social Welfare (Consolidated Claims, Payments and Control) Regulations 2007 (142/2007)
  • Social Welfare (Consolidated Claims, Payments and Control) (Amendment) (No. 4) (Sharing of Information) Regulations 2015 (SI 317 of 2015)
  • Universities Act 1997
  • Institutes of Technology Act 2006
  • Technological Universities Act 2018

This notice sets out the basis on which any personal data collected from you, or from others, will be processed by the HEA. Please read the following carefully to understand HEA practices regarding your personal data and how the HEA will treat these data.

The HEA Data Protection Officer (DPO) may be contacted at dataprotection@hea.ie

What personal information does the HEA collect from you or obtain from others?

The HEA does not, except in limited circumstances, collect data directly from individuals. It is collected by higher education institutions (HEIs) and passed to the HEA so as that the HEA can process the data so as to perform its statutory functions under the 1971 Act. The HEA processes the following personal data:

The Student Records System (SRS)

At registration for the HEI you will be attending, you will give data to your institution. That data forms the basis of the SRS dataset. The data collected for the SRS is set out in Schedule 1 of this notice.

Graduate Outcomes Survey (GOS)

In respect of this survey, you will be contacted approximately nine months post-graduation by your institution to fill out the survey. It is conducted on a voluntary basis, although not on the basis of consent; that is to say that while it is voluntary to partake in the Survey, the HEA does not rely upon Article 6(1)(a), but relies upon the fact the processing is necessary for the performance of a statutory function or Article 6(1)(e). The details collected are set out in Schedule 1 of this notice.

The Equal Access Survey (EAS)

The EAS is conducted by the individual HEI on a voluntary basis. The objective of the EAS is to ask higher education new entrants to answer a set of access related questions as part of the normal registration procedure. Registration in the main occurs in institutions between August and late October each new academic year. The questions relate to students facing social and/or financial barriers to higher education. Like the Graduate Outcomes Survey, the HEA does not rely upon consent as the basis for operating the survey, but upon the necessity to carry out the survey for the performance of its statutory functions. The details collected are set out in Schedule 1 of this notice.

What other information does the HEA collect from you or obtain from others?

During your studies, you will be invited to participate in StudentSurvey.ie (Irish survey of student engagement). Some of your information will be sent to the survey company to ensure that the survey is offered only to relevant target groups. Your information will be matched to your survey responses in order to allow for anonymous analysis of results, for example, by gender or full-time/ part-time. Your responses will be treated confidentially, and no individual student will be identifiable in any reports or results generated as a result of this survey.

Why does the HEA collect this information?

To fulfil its legislative obligations the Higher Education Authority (HEA) requires an evidence base. This evidence base is provided by gathering individual student level data from the Higher Education Institutions. The primary database maintained in this respect is the Student Records System (SRS). Other datasets maintained by the HEA include the Equal Access Survey (EAS) and the Graduate Outcomes Survey. Currently data is required for the following purposes:

  • Trend analysis for annual publications on enrolments and graduates, by student and institute characteristics
  • Annual progression analysis of new entrants, by student and institute characteristics
  • Annual graduate outcomes analysis, by student and institute characteristics
  • To inform funding allocation to HEA-funded higher education institutions
  • Annual analysis of equity of access metrics of our Higher Education cohort
  • Forecasting future enrolment and graduate numbers
  • Reporting higher education data to international agencies such as the OECD, UNESCO and Eurostat
  • Providing data to the Department of Education and Skills to inform their decision-making processes and forecasting analysis
  • Provide SUSI with data to inform grant application decisions
  • To provide data to the CSO under the Statistics Act 1993
  • To measure degree outcomes for students
  • To track students for completion rate analysis

Who the HEA shares your data with

The primary purpose the HEA has for collecting data is for statistical analysis in furtherance of its statutory obligations and to inform funding and other decisions made by the HEA. The HEA via its portal system shares personal data relevant to a HEI, with that HEI. The HEA also shares personal data with the following Government departments and public bodies. The HEA ensures that there are data sharing agreements in place with organisation with which data is shared. The table below provides more information regarding what is shared and the reasons for sharing.

Third party name  Purposes for sharing the data Lawful basis for sharing 
The Department of Education and Skills The HEA shares identifiable microdata with the Department of Education and Skills to allow for transitions rate analysis from 2nd level to 3rd level and to produce 3rd level demand projections.
Data is shared with other Government Departments and agencies to allow them to carry out their statutory functions. The sharing is allowed under Section 266 of the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005 as set out in the Social Welfare (Consolidated Claims, Payments and Control) Regulations 2007 and as amended by Social Welfare (Consolidated Claims, Payments and Control) (Amendment) (No. 4) (Sharing of Information) Regulations 2015.
The Central Statistics Office The HEA shares identifiable microdata with the CSO to analyse graduate outcomes and to measure the effectiveness of the higher education system. HEA data is linked to other Government administrative datasets in the CSO.
Statistics Act 1993 and a memorandum of understanding dated 4 February 2015.
SUSI – part of the CDETB (City of Dublin Education and Training Board) The HEA matches SUSI grant application data to HEA student record data using PPSN to verify previous attendance at HEA-funded institutions.
The SUSI data sharing agreement has its lawful basis under section 28 of the Student Support Act 2011.
The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection The HEA shares PPSN, name, address and date of birth data to verify PPSN data with Client Identity Services.
In accordance with Government policy, the PPS number is used as the unique identifier on HEA databases. This allows for a continuity of statistical analysis and allows databases to be maintained accurately as well ensuring that there are no duplicate records in the system. The PPS number obtained may be validated using the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection PPSN client identity service.
SOLAS The HEA shares identifiable microdata with SOLAS to allow for transitions rate analysis from further education to higher education.
Data is shared with other Government Departments and agencies to allow them to carry out their statutory functions. The sharing is allowed under Section 266 of the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005 as set out in the Social Welfare (Consolidated Claims, Payments and Control) Regulations 2007 and as amended by Social Welfare (Consolidated Claims, Payments and Control) (Amendment) (No. 4) (Sharing of Information) Regulations 2015.
The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform The HEA shares disaggregated course level data with DPER to allow for detailed labour market analysis.
Data is shared with other Government Departments and agencies to allow them to carry out their statutory functions. The sharing is allowed under Section 266 of the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005 as set out in the Social Welfare (Consolidated Claims, Payments and Control) Regulations 2007 and as amended by Social Welfare (Consolidated Claims, Payments and Control) (Amendment) (No. 4) (Sharing of Information) Regulations 2015.
External contractors  The HEA, on occasion, contract external bodies to process microdata in order to fulfil statutory functions, e.g. geocoding of student address data. Contracts are organised through the OGP and data processing agreements are in place where necessary.

Data processors

The HEA shares certain personal data with other organisations acting as processors, subject to appropriate data processing agreements and due diligence.

Anonymised sharing

The HEA also shares statistical data with other Government departments who may benefit from same. This data is not personal data within the definition of Regulation 2016/679. Such aggregated data is shared in a form where the data subject is not identifiable and is shared from the SRS, EAS and GO databases.

How long does the HEA keep hold of your information?

The time periods for which the HEA retain your information depends on the type of information and the purposes for which it is used. The HEA will keep your information for no longer than is required or permitted.

Student level data collected in the Student Records System and via the Graduate Outcomes Survey and the Equal Access Survey are required to fulfil the statutory functions of the HEA. Student level data, including PPSN, is required to verify eligibility under the free fees scheme and for SUSI grant eligibility. PPSN is also required to link HEA data to other administrative Government datasets both within the HEA and in the CSO. Longitudinal analysis of these linked datasets allows the HEA and the Department of Education to formulate more effective education policy, measure the societal value and impact of the education system, measure outcomes – including for disadvantaged cohorts, and direct investment appropriately. For these purposes, student level data will be retained by the HEA from return year 2004 data currently in the system for a period of forty years – the majority of the active labour market years for students/graduates. Please note that student level data is stored securely in the HEA and is only shared with authorised bodies specified in legislation and/or the student data collection notice presented to students at registration. The identity of students is never disclosed to unauthorised third parties.

For further details on the applicable retention periods, please contact the HEA Data Protection Officer at dataprotection@hea.ie

Does the HEA transfer your information outside the European Union or European Economic Area?

Not at present. Any processing which may take place outside the EU or EEA will only be carried out with all necessary safeguards and in accordance with the GDPR.

What are your rights with respect to your personal data?

You have the following rights:

  • The right to access the personal data the HEA holds about you.
  • The right to require the HEA to rectify any inaccurate personal data about you without undue delay.
  • The right to object to processing in the context of Article 21 GDPR
  • You may exercise any of the above rights by contacting the HEA Data Protection Officer at dataprotection@hea.ie

You may lodge a complaint with the Office of the Data Protection Commission in respect to our processing of your personal data. The website is dataprotection.ie.

To ensure your privacy and to protect the integrity of your data, the HEA will require you to verify your identity with a photographic ID before releasing or correcting your information.

What will happen if the HEA change the data collection notice?

This notice may change each year. This notice is applicable to the 2020/2021 academic year. A revised notice will issue in the event of any future changes.

How can you contact the HEA?

The HEA Data Protection Officer can be contacted by email at dataprotection@hea.ie

By phone: 01 2317100

Address: 3 Shelbourne Buildings, Shelbourne Road, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4.

List of data items the HEA collect or obtain from higher education institutions, 2020/2021 academic year PDF | 431.3 KB