1. What is this study about?

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) and the National Union of Students (NUS) are carrying out this important pilot study on students’ experiences in higher education settings in collaboration with the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), Public Health England (PHE) and the Department for Education (DfE). This study will ask you questions about your situation and experiences at university during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and how you have been affected by it.

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2. Why should I take part?

You have the unique opportunity to tell us about your experiences. We want to accurately reflect your experience at university during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Your responses will provide us with information not available from any other sources. You will be helping scientific advisers and government policymakers to understand the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on your university experience. Do not miss your chance to have your say!

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3. What will I be asked?

The study will cover a range of topics, including:

  • information about you
  • your health and wellbeing
  • the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on your university life
  • the coronavirus (COVID-19) guidance

The questions we ask can be based on both facts and opinions.

There are no difficult questions, and you do not need any specialist knowledge to take part. There are no right or wrong answers – your honest responses are vital for us to produce reliable statistics about your university experience.

We respect your right to a private life – the information you provide in this study will not be used to identify you in any way.

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4. Do I have to answer all the questions?

Answering the questions is voluntary. If you do not want to answer some or any of the questions, you do not have to. Please answer as many questions as you can, to ensure that your experiences and circumstances are counted.

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5. What will you do with my answers?

Your personal information will remain confidential.

The details you provide will be combined with those of everyone else taking part so we can produce statistics. Any data we publish will never identify you.

We do not sell on your data and you will not receive junk mail or marketing calls as a result of taking part in the study. Your university will not have access to any details you provide in the study.

If you want to know more, please see the section about our commitment to protecting your data.

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6. What is next?

You should have received an email from National Union of Students (NUS) inviting you to take part and introducing the study.

Your email will include all the instructions and log in details you need – this study is available for you to complete at any time until the closing date stated in your email.

We design our studies with you in mind and keep them as short as possible. We only collect the information we need to better understand our society. Your response is really important to us.

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7. Who is carrying out the study?

This study is being carried out by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) in collaboration with the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), Public Health England (PHE) and the Department for Education (DfE). The ONS are the country’s largest producer of statistics.

We are:

  • independent, unbiased and impartial: we are separate from other organisations and do not allow anything to influence the statistics we publish
  • the only organisation that produces official statistics as a primary role: we have no additional interest in the information we collect
  • only interested in society as a whole, and not you as an individual: statistics represent groups of people; we remove your personal details as we are not interested in singling you out

We are not:

  • a commercial or market research organisation: we do not work for profit and will not try to sell you anything
  • associated with any political parties: we produce official statistics, no matter who the Prime Minister or political party in government is
  • going to sell on your data under any circumstances: we value your involvement in our studies and do not profit from your data; you will not receive any “junk mail” as a result of taking part
  • monitoring you, as the data you give are only used for producing statistics: we will not use your information to contact you about other matters such as your tax, income or benefits, and we will not provide your information to anyone else for them to do so either

Read more about what we do at the ONS.

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8. Why have I been asked to take part?

To build a picture of student experience during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, we need to talk to university students.

It is not possible to ask every student to take part in our study; instead, we have invited a sample of students enrolled at universities in the UK to ensure we represent all university students.

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9. Where are we hosting the study?

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) is using a third party, SmartSurvey, to carry out the data collection aspects of this online study. However, the ONS will receive all data collected and remain in control of all responses given by all study participants.

Who designed the study?

The questionnaire was designed by the ONS with input from the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), Public Health England (PHE) and the Department for Education (DfE).

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10. How do I take part in the study?

  1. Follow the link provided in your email to access the study on your computer, smartphone or tablet.

  2. Enter your unique access code when prompted and complete the study.

  3. Click "Finish survey".

When do I need to complete the study by?

You should aim to complete the study by the date indicated on your invitation email.

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11. Questions about taking part

Where can I find my code to access the online study?

The unique access code for completing the study online is printed on the invitation email you should have received. It is a 12-digit code that you should enter when prompted.

Can I take a break part way through?

We would advise you to start the survey when you have time to complete it. It will only take between 10 and 15 minutes of your time. Unfortunately, the survey platform currently does not allow questionnaires to be saved partway through and to be finished at a later point. If you were to close your browser window before completing and submitting the survey, you will not be able to re-enter the study. The responses you have given up to that point will not be accessible to anyone.

Why have I not received an invite, and how do I get one?

To ensure the study is valid, only those invited to participate in the study will have received an email invitation with a link to the study.

I have already been asked to take part in this study before, why have I been asked again?

Occasionally, some people do get invited to take part in our studies more than once. If you have already taken part in the past, we still want to hear from you.

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12. Do I have to take part?

Your response is extremely important to make sure your voice counts in producing reliable statistics for decision-making. For us to get an accurate picture of the current university experience, it is vital that we hear from as many people as possible, from all university degrees.

We are giving you the choice to make a difference.

Can I take part in the study in another way other than online?

Unfortunately, this study is only available online.

Can I complete the study in another language?

Currently, the study is only available in English.

I have completed the online study but I want to change my answers; what do I do?

If you have submitted your response but would like to change your answers, please email student.insights.feedback@ons.gov.uk to let us know.

I have lost my log in details needed to complete the study online. Can I have this again?

If you have lost your log in details needed to complete the study, please contact student.insights.feedback@ons.gov.uk.

How can I tell whether my answers have been successfully submitted?

When you complete the study, you will reach a page thanking you for taking part. This means that you have successfully submitted your answers.

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13. Will I be able to see the results?

The results from this study will be used by scientific advisers, government bodies and policymakers who are looking at the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The results are likely to be published in a report later this year.

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14. Confidentiality and data protection

How we have selected you

A random selection of university students from across the country have been invited to take part in this study. If you have been selected, you will receive an email from the National Union of Students (NUS) with information on how to take part.

We cannot ask another individual to take your place in this study as this would affect how representative our study is.

Will I be identifiable in the results?

No, the information you submit will be treated as confidential as directed by the Code of Practice for Statistics. Any statistics or results produced will not identify you.

Will anyone else see my answers?

We would advise you to complete the study in private. Your responses will not be visible to your university or other students. Once you have submitted your study, your answers cannot be accessed through the questionnaire anymore.

How will we use the information you provide?

Your personal information will remain confidential.

The details you provide will be combined with those of everyone else taking part so we can produce statistics. Any data we publish will never identify you or your household.

The ONS will use your data for statistical purposes only. We will only share statistical outputs of the data with our stakeholders (the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), Public Health England (PHE) and the Department for Education (DfE)) following the Code of Practice for Statistics. Any outputs we share with our stakeholders will not be able to identify you.

We do not sell on your data, and you will not receive junk mail or marketing calls as a result of taking part in one of our studies.

How long will you keep the information I provide?

The information you provide will not identify you or your household and will be deleted upon completion of the project in line with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

What precautions for data protection and confidentiality have been taken?

The ONS adheres to the Code of Practice for Statistics and the Data Protection Act 2018 and processes all personal information with respect, keeping it secure and confidential. Any personal data collected are processed in systems that have been accredited by the ONS, designed to uphold the security of the data and that are subject to regular assessment. Once the study is completed, ONS will destroy all personal data securely.

How do we ensure your personal information is held securely?

We take our responsibilities to keep your personal information secure very seriously. As such, we take every reasonable precaution to ensure your information is protected from loss, theft or misuse. These precautions include appropriate physical security of our offices, controlled access to computer systems, and use of secure, encrypted internet connections when collecting personal information.

Cookies

SmartSurvey is the service provider used to host this study online. SmartSurvey uses cookies on their website. Cookies are bits of data they store on the device you use to access the SmartSurvey website and services so they can recognise repeat visitors. Each cookie expires after a certain period of time, depending on what it is used it for.

More information on SmartSurvey's Cookie Policy is available.

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15. What is ONS’s responsibility to the public?

You can read about the commitments the Office for National Statistics (ONS) makes to those taking part in its studies in our ONS respondent charter for surveys of households and individuals.

If you have a question about how we process your personal data or want to find out more about your rights under data protection legislation, please see our data protection page.

At the ONS, we take our responsibility to the public seriously. It is our policy that we will tell the appropriate authority if we believe there is a serious risk to someone’s safety.

We would appreciate your suggestions on how we can improve any of our studies. It would also be great to hear from you if you are happy with the service you have received. You can email us at student.insights.feedback@ons.gov.uk.

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