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Organisational Development, Quality Improvement & Regulatory Compliance

BU Privacy Notice: Students

Evaluating courses, outcomes and student experience

We sometimes ask for your feedback on matters relating to your student experience at BU, including both academic experiences and other matters such as the impact of receiving student bursaries or your wider experience of student life at BU. These may be sent to you while you are still at BU or after you leave BU. You are not required to participate in these surveys. We use your feedback on our courses and your study experience at BUto comply with our policies on programme monitoring and evaluation in order to maintain and improve the quality of our courses and teaching activities and take decisions as to the nature and content of the programmes we will provide to students in the future. Where relevant, your feedback is also used for other organisational development purposes e.g. to consider future approaches to providing financial and other support for students and determine how to communicate with applicants/potential applicants and students in the future.

To obtain student feedback we may ask you to complete BU forms or surveys, provide oral or written comments to student representatives or act as a student representative for your course.  We may use online survey tools such as Survey Monkey for this purpose.  You may also be invited to complete surveys delivered by external organisations, such as the National Student Survey (NSS), the Graduate Outcomes Survey (GOS), the Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey (PTES) and the Postgraduate Research Experience Survey (PRES).    

More information

In connection with our core teaching, learning and support services we use student views and evaluations to help us maintain, develop and improve the quality of our courses, our teaching and supervision activities and related policies. In particular:

  • We will ask you to provide internal feedback on or evaluations of your study experience at BU, including specific courses or modules you are undertaking.  When submitted in writing as a response to a survey (e.g. MUSE questionnaires) this information will be provided on an unnamed basis unless you choose to provide your name.  All personal data will be anonymised in internal and external reporting of results.  We may ask you to provide this information using an online survey tool such as Survey Monkey: if this is the case, the survey tool provider will also provide you with a privacy notice about their processing of data. If you provide feedback orally or informally, e.g. to a student representative or by email to an individual academic, you need to tell the recipient if you do not want your name to be linked to your feedback or you do not want your feedback to be used or shared in a particular way.
  • We sometimes invite students to take part in focus group discussions about BU policies relating to teaching and learning or student experience. We keep a record of the names of students who participate in these groups but when we record the views expressed in the group we do not link these to student names or any other identifying information.
  • External evaluation surveys used by BU for the same purposes include the National Student Survey (NSS) of undergraduate student experience and the Graduate Outcomes Survey (GOS) (both carried out on behalf of HESA/the Office for Students) and the PTES and PRES surveys of postgraduate student experience, carried out by AdvanceHE on behalf of higher education providers. We use the results of these surveys in anonymised form.  Separate privacy notices will be given to you by those carrying out the surveys if you agree to participate. For PTES and PRES, the survey is developed by AdvanceHE for use across the HE sector and administered by BU in relation to its students. To run the survey we use an individual identifier linked to student name, but the identifiable information is deleted after the results are received and we do not connect the survey responses to individuals. There is a separate section below about the national surveys we are required to take part in, the National Student Survey (NSS) and the Graduate Outcomes Survey (GOS).
  • We use your evaluations to provide overall feedback to the BU staff who manage and deliver a course, with a view to securing appropriate improvements to the course and its delivery. 
  • If your feedback has not been provided anonymously, we will sometimes ask to discuss feedback with you for the purposes of improving the relevant course or course delivery or giving you information on responses to feedback. 
  • Your evaluations and feedback will not affect any other decisions or actions relating to you specifically (as an identifiable individual). The only exception is if your views or the way in which you have expressed them breach a BU policy such as the Dignity& Respect policy.
  • In addition to surveys or evaluations of your course of study, we will sometimes invite you to complete surveys carried out by BU or external organisations which relate to other aspects of your BU experience/student life. These include the National Student Housing Survey (carried out by an external organisation), LettingsBU surveys on accommodation and the Arrivals survey carried out by BU Student Services. The results of these surveys are used by BU only for the purposes of evaluating and improving the scope and content of services and support we provide to our students. External organisations will provide further privacy information about their use of survey results.
  • Necessary for the performance of the contract between you and BU
  • Necessary for performance of BU’s core public task, i.e. delivery of higher education and research
  • Necessary for legitimate interests pursued by BU, as described above.

Statistical analysis and reporting

For analysis and reporting purposes we process information about your personal characteristics and background. This data is collected during the application process and during on-line registration at the start of the year, and you can update it throughout the academic year. It includes information about your ethnicity, health/disability, your gender status, sexual orientation and your religion or equivalent beliefs. It also includes information about your qualifications on entry to BU and about your socio-economic background, such as the socio-economic profile of your home address, whether you are a care-leaver, whether you are estranged from your family and whether you are the first person in your family to attend higher education. For analysis and reporting purposes we often link this data together and to the further information about your academic performance and progression which is generated through your study at BU and contained in your student record, and student feedback collected as described above. 

The processing described in this section is carried out for the purposes of data analysis and reporting, which informs work to develop our provision of education, support and other services to students: it does not focus on you as an individual or involve taking decisions or actions relating to you specifically as an identifiable individual. The outputs from this activity are reports which refer to anonymised, statistical data from which you cannot be identified. This analysis is used:

  • Internally to help us improve the quality and effectiveness of our education provision, student support arrangements and wider services for students, so we can increase our ability to meet the expectations and needs of students/potential students and future employers;
  • Internally to help our Access and Participation work at BU as required by the regulatory requirements of the Office for Students (OfS) and promote equality of opportunity in accordance with the Equality Act 2010. This may include using the analysis to identify categories of students who may benefit from particular support or adjustments to current practice, plan provision of such support or adjustments and evaluate the success of such measures;
  • In external reporting to the OfS (on our performance as a higher education provider and our compliance with regulatory conditions, including our Access and Participation Plan) and to the UK government and other government/public sector bodies.

More information

The statistical analysis we create is carried out primarily by data analysts in our Academic Services and PRIME teams and is presented in a format which does not identify you as individuals.

Internally, reports on this statistical analysis are shared in a range of ways. This includes reporting within our governance structure, to our Board, Senate, Committees and sub-Committees. It also includes use within our Academic Quality team, Faculties and professional service teams to drive improvements within BU.

Externally, BU is required to make a range of reports to OfS. These include reporting on BU’s actions for the purposes of widening participation as well as reports which enable OfS to appraise the quality and effectiveness of BU’s teaching and research activities. BU may also be asked to provide similar reports to the UK Government (Department for Education) and other public or government bodies or agencies.

  • Necessary for performance of BU’s core public task, i.e. delivery of higher    education and research
  • Necessary for the purposes of substantial public interest: this is equal opportunities monitoring
  • Necessary for research or statistical purposes

Providing data to HESA

As a higher education provider BU is legally required to include your personal data in an annual data report to HESA, the Higher Education Statistics Agency.Our reporting to HESA includes your name, the course you are following at BU and your funding arrangements, as well as detailed information about your personal characteristics including home postcode, ethnicity and any information we hold about your health conditions or disabilities, sexual orientation, religion or equivalent beliefs and care leaver status.For further information about the data provided to HESA and the way in which it is processed by HESA and other third parties, please see the HESA Collection (privacy) notice for students:

We provide some of this information under the legal framework in the Higher Education and Research Act 2017 or for a task in the public interest, or for legitimate interests, and always for research and statistical purposes.  We do not ask for your consent to provide this information to HESA.  This processing is not on the basis of consent, once you have given us the information.  If you have questions or concerns about HESA’s use of your information which are not answered by the HESA privacy notice, you should contact HESA directly using the contact details provided in its privacy notice.

More information

  • Necessary for compliance with a legal obligation
  • Necessary for the performance of a task carried out in the public interest
  • Necessary for legitimate interests
  • Necessary for research or statistical purposes,

Arrangements for national surveys

BU is required to facilitate the conduct of two national surveys used to appraise the quality and effectiveness of higher education experiences in the UK and facilitate higher education policy-making. For this reason, we will provide your name, course details and contact information to:

The organisation which acts on behalf of the Office for Students to carry out the National Student Survey (NSS):

This is an annual survey of higher education students’ views about their course and higher education provider which is used to create published feedback about and ratings of courses and providers, and generally to drive improvements in higher education provision;


The organisation which acts on behalf of HESA to carry out the Graduate Outcomes Survey (GOS):

This is a survey about the job/career outcomes for higher education graduates. You may be contacted about participating in this survey about fifteen months after you leave BU.​

If you are contacted for these purposes you will be given further privacy information at that point and can choose whether you wish to participate. BU receives your responses to the NSS only in anonymised statistical form. Responses to the GOS are received in individualised format but your data is only used for the research and statistical purposes (evaluation etc) described above and is not used to take any action or decisions in relation to you as an individual. Any information we publish about GOS responses will be in anonymised statistical form.

More information

  • Necessary for the performance of a task carried out in the public interest: the OfS’s statutory duties to ensure the quality of higher education

Privacy Notice Contents:

  1. Introduction

  2. When and how we collect your data

  3. How we hold your data

  4. How and why we process your data for BU purposes

  5. Sharing your data with third parties

  6. Transfer of your data outside the European Economic Area (EEA)

  7. Retention: how long will we keep your data for?

  8. Your rights as a data subject and how to exercise them