29 November 2019 • HOP, Melanie Zierse
Van Engelshoven defends law on Student Survey
The CDA is critical of Minister Van Engelshoven’s plan to make the participation of universities of applied sciences and research universities in the National Student Survey mandatory. What does the survey actually mean and what about privacy?
The minister believes that support for the National Student Survey – an annual survey in which hundreds of thousands of students share their opinion on their degree programme – is declining. Because of the new privacy legislation students were required to fill in the data themselves, which resulted in a lot of mistakes. The research universities helped to ‘repair’ the data, but the universities of applied sciences refused to participate.
In addition there has been a discussion about the validity of the survey (does it measure what it’s supposed to measure) and privacy. Students and educational institutions discussed these issues, but were unable to come to an agreement, as reported earlier by the minister.
So she has decided to take matters into her own hands. With this bill she wants to ‘guarantee’ the National Student Survey, making participation mandatory for universities of applied sciences and research universities. The CDA is critical: “A survey on student satisfaction expresses subjective study choice information and doesn’t provide enough reason to motivate this proposed change in legislation,” states the party.
Of course this is a “subjective experience”, replies Van Engelshoven. But that doesn’t make it any less relevant. She says that the data is an “excellent addition to the large amount of quantitative data about the degree programmes on offer.”
The CDA also doubts the reliability and validity of the National Student Survey. The minister has reassured the CDA that Studiekeuze123, the company that has been processing the survey data and likely will continue to do so, works with a 95% reliability interval. And the questionnaire will be improved.
GroenLinks supports the National Student Survey and actually wants to expand the scope of the study to also measure employee satisfaction. But the minister believes that is “inappropriate” as the survey is “primarily focused on providing students with study choice information.”
Several parties have raised concerns about the privacy of students. The institutions have to share some data, including the email address and degree programme of the students. According to the new bill, they aren’t required to ask for consent. But participation is voluntary and in principle anonymous, reassures Van Engelshoven. Students must give explicit consent to provide identifiable data. The minister affirmed that the Autoriteit Persoonsgegevens (Authority for Personal Data) had no comments or observations.
Van Engelshoven expects that the bill will go into effect on 1 April, 2020 so that students will be able to complete the National Student Survey for this academic year.