2022 results published

Survey finds one in three students have ‘seriously considered’ withdrawing from degree programmes. Data examining first year undergraduate student experience shows a significant improvement over 2021 results.

Varnika Bagai – NCI student (psychology), Jennifer Treadwell (white shirt) – President National College of Ireland (NCI) Students Union, Clodagh McGivern (black leather jacket) – USI Academic Affairs Officer and Lorcan Mills – NCI student (computing)., the major annual survey examining students’ experiences of higher education in Ireland, has looked for the first time at the reasons students might consider withdrawing from degree programmes.

In 2022, 42,852 first year undergraduate students, final year undergraduate students and students on taught postgraduate programmes took part in (the Irish Survey of Student Engagement; Suirbhé na hÉireann ar Rannpháirtíocht na Mac Léinn) that ran in 25 higher education institutions in February and March.

This represents a national response rate of 28% of those invited to take the survey.

The comprehensive survey consists of 64 questions and focuses on student engagement with learning, rather than student satisfaction.

For the first time, the 2022 survey introduced a question on student withdrawal as a standard question for all respondents: “Have you ever seriously considered withdrawing from your degree programme?” 

Of those surveyed, 63% said they had not seriously considered withdrawing from their programme. However, the data show that slightly more than one in three (37%have seriously considered withdrawing.

In 2019-2020, the non-progression rate from first year undergraduate to second year undergraduate reported by the Higher Education Authority was 9% (HEA, 2022; read more here). 2022 data suggest that 35% of first year undergraduate respondents said they had seriously considered withdrawing.

It is hoped that these findings prove beneficial for HEIs, policymakers, and students in understanding the potential barriers for students in progressing in their studies.

Reasons given for considering withdrawal included:

  • Personal or family reasons (13%)
  • Financial reasons (10%)
  • Transfer to another institution (9%)
  • Another reason (8%)
  • Health reasons (6%)
  • Employment (5%)

The effects of COVID-19 on students

Last year’s report demonstrated clearly that the student experience was affected during the COVID-19 pandemic by the necessitated changes to the traditional on-campus higher education mode. There was a significant impact on scores for Collaborative Learning, Student-Faculty Interaction, Quality of Interactions, and Supportive Environment.

This year’s data show that, although the first-year undergraduate student experience (as demonstrated by the nine indicator scores) has not entirely reverted to pre-COVID levels, there was a significant improvement evident, particularly amongst those indicator scores that were initially most impacted by COVID-19 in 2021.

Other key findings in this year’s report include:

  • 84% of respondents, if they could start over again, would probably/ definitely go to the same institution they are now attending
  • 74% of respondents believed that their experience at their institution contributed to their knowledge, skills, and personal development in thinking critically and analytically
  • 69% of respondents believed that lecturers/ teaching staff taught in an organised way
  • 67% of respondents believed that lecturers/ teaching staff used examples or illustrations to explain difficult points
  • 63% of respondents learned something that changed the way they understand an issue or concept
  • 60% of respondents indicated as excellent the quality of interactions with students
  • 58% of respondents believed that their institution emphasised providing support to help students succeed academically
  • 53% of respondents worked with other students on projects or assignments
  • 50% of respondents believed that their institution emphasised providing opportunities to be involved socially
  • 46% of respondents connected their learning to problems or issues in society
  • 43% of respondents indicated as excellent the quality of interactions with academic staff

Dr Siobhán Nic Fhlannchadha, Manager of, said: “The results of have immense value for each of the higher education institutions, as well as for the whole higher education sector. I am always struck by how students use the survey to reflect critically and constructively on their experience. For staff in the higher education institutions and organisations, these results represent an opportunity to grow, and I hope they make the most of it.

“The survey collates powerful feedback directly from students, which passes to institutions to allow them to act on challenges facing their student population. The institutions themselves have a real buy-in to the survey and actively support and promote it, which makes it even more effective. The results this year show that students are facing challenges and institutions are providing supports to help them succeed.”

Interpretation of detailed results requires contextualising the results with information from each individual institution and understanding what the students in that institution are saying. Institutions are committed to interpreting and utilising data to enhance the experiences of their students.

The National Report 2022 will be launched at the QQI (Quality and Qualifications Ireland) 10th anniversary conference on Tuesday 18th October 2022 in the Croke Park Conference Centre. The full report is available on the website here:

A summary of the findings can be downloaded from:



For more information please contact:

Siobhán Nic Fhlannchadha, Project Manager ; 087 769 1834

More information can be found on

Report: (Irish Survey of Student Engagement) National Report 2022


Additional Notes

This is the tenth iteration of (Irish Survey of Student Engagement).

About and PGR ask students directly about their experiences of higher education. runs annually and PGR runs on a biennial survey fieldwork cycle. The next and PGR fieldwork will take place in 2023. Student feedback provides institutions with valuable information to identify good practice that enhances the experiences of students and to prompt awareness of, and action on, any particular issues or challenges that affect students. The results of the surveys are intended to bring benefits to students and their institutions, and to inform national policy. is funded by the Higher Education Authority (HEA), and co-sponsored by the Irish Universities Association (IUA), the Technological Higher Education Association (THEA) and the Union of Students in Ireland (USI).