Data and analysis

Equality data

The University collects and analyses staff and student data across the protected characteristics to help us assess the impact of our policies and practices on equality and good relations. This is important for:

  • identifying inequalities
  • setting objectives and targets
  • prioritising activity
  • planning engagement
  • minimising negative impact, and
  • enhancing positive impact.

We publish a summary of staff and student equality data together with information on how we are meeting our strategic equality objectives in the annual Equality Report.

University and college data are separate, though with many overlaps, e.g. in relation to jointly appointed academic staff as well as student admissions and attainment. The University records workforce data on staff with joint university and college appointments.

Survey data

Staff Experience Survey

Find out more about the University’s biennial Staff Experience Survey, including the results of the most recent survey (in 2021) – both a briefer overview and more detailed statistics – and previous staff survey reports. You can also read about some of the work that is being done to address the issues raised in the 2021 survey.

Student Surveys

The University runs a number of student surveys throughout the academic year, including University-wide surveys, national surveys like the Student Barometer, and surveys of leavers.


Running a survey

Guidance on running your own survey

The University runs regular institutional surveys to collect feedback on staff and student experience and inform changes to policy and practice. Additional ad hoc surveys risk causing survey fatigue and reducing overall response rates, so please consider whether you really need to run a survey before going ahead.

Survey tools

You can access the University’s recommended survey tool, JISC Online Surveys, via IT Services

Surveys and data protection

All surveys must comply with UK GDPR and the Data Protection Act 2018. This section explains how to ensure your survey is compliant.

If you intend to process ‘personal data’ – any information on an identifiable living individual – you will need to assess the potential privacy impact in advance. You do not have to do this for an anonymous survey – but it is difficult to guarantee that any survey will be truly anonymous, especially if it:

  • includes free text comment questions, and/or
  • collects demographic data.

Even if only a single respondent could identify themselves (e.g. from a comment they made or their particular combination of demographic data), data protection requirements will apply. It makes no difference if the person running the survey is unable to identify any of the respondents.

You can ask your divisional Privacy Champion for advice if you are unsure.

The Compliance Team has published guidance on data protection for staff. You will need to review this guidance and complete any required documentation before going ahead with your survey. Allow plenty of time for this, especially if you need to obtain advice from the team.

Key considerations

The ‘privacy by design’ process is intended to ensure that you have considered why you want to process people’s personal data, whether that processing is appropriate, what the impact on them might be, and that you have provided them with all the necessary information.

Please review the staff guidance on data protection on the Compliance website. The Compliance team can also provide tailored advice on your proposed survey. Contact:

Additional detail is available in the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) comprehensive guide to the UK General Data Protection Regulation (UK GDPR)

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What is your ‘lawful basis’ for processing survey respondents’ personal data? Which additional condition are you relying on to process ‘special category data’ (if applicable)?

If your lawful basis is ‘consent’ and/or your special category processing condition is ‘explicit consent’, have you included a ‘consent notice’ with a Yes/No tick box in your survey?  How will you deal with requests to withdraw consent? Will there be any limitations on this right, e.g. only while the survey is open and if their response can be identified?  

If your special category processing condition is for reasons of ‘substantial public interest’, which interests are you relying on, e.g. to assess ‘equality of opportunity or treatment’? 

Which rights will respondents have in relation to their personal data? This depends on which lawful basis you are relying on. For example, consent is the most restrictive basis but may nevertheless be the best choice for a survey.  

Have you included the mandatory items of information in your privacy notice? There is a privacy notice toolkit on the Compliance website

The UK GDPR defines ‘special category’ data as that which reveals or concerns: 

  • personal data revealing racial or ethnic origin 
  • personal data revealing political opinions 
  • personal data revealing religious or philosophical beliefs 
  • personal data revealing trade union membership 
  • genetic data 
  • biometric data (where used for identification purposes) 
  • data concerning health 
  • data concerning a person’s sex life 
  • data concerning a person’s sexual orientation. 

This may include data which enables you to infer or guess any of these details about an individual, e.g. as might be found in their responses to free text survey questions.  

Have you identified your overall aim and why you think a survey is the best way of achieving it? Could you do it in a less intrusive way, e.g. by drawing on existing survey, demographic or research data?  

Might you want to use the survey data for a different purpose in the future? This may not be possible without asking respondents for their consent.  

Who do you want to survey and what is the maximum number of respondents? ‘Large scale’ processing (c.5,000+) is likely to require a full Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA) which will need to be submitted to Compliance and Legal Services for review.  

Which items of personal data do you want to collect? Do they include ‘special category’ data or free text comment questions? Will you be asking about sensitive matters that respondents might find intrusive or upsetting, e.g. mental health, sexuality, traumatic experiences? 

Do you really need to collect this much data to meet your aims, or could you manage with less? Are respondents likely to find the survey too burdensome, or too intrusive? Is there a risk that individuals could be identified from their responses? 

How will you choose who to survey? Are your records accurate and up-to-date? 

How will you invite people to complete the survey, e.g. by posting a link in a newsletter or emailing personalised invitations to individuals? How will you ensure that you obtain accurate data, i.e. from the intended audience? 

Will respondents be able to amend the data they have provided? Will there be a time limit on this? 

How long will you need to retain respondents’ personal data in order to meet your purpose(s)? Is the retention period justifiable – or excessive? 

Will individuals be able to request the erasure of their personal data? 

Will you be able to anonymise the data (at some point) so that it can be stored indefinitely? Anonymous data is no longer ‘personal data’ so there are no restrictions on its retention.  

How will you collect and store respondents’ personal data? Does your survey tool meet the University’s data protection requirements?  

The University’s recommended online survey tool is JISC Online Surveys. Seek advice from the Compliance team if you wish to use other survey tools as this could involve transferring personal data to a restricted third country such as the USA.  

Where will you store respondents’ personal data and how will you ensure it is secure? Who will have access to the data?  

Who will be responsible for ensuring the survey is compliant with UK GDPR? Have they approved the data privacy documentation? 

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