The survey was commissioned by the Austrian Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research (BMBWF). The project has been supervised by an advisory board containing representatives of the Universities Austria Association (uniko), the Association of Universities of Applied Sciences in Austria (FHK), the Rectors’ Conference of Austrian Universities of Education (RÖPH), the Conference of Austrian Private Universities (ÖPUK), the Austrian Union of Students (ÖH), the Agency for Quality Assurance and Accreditation Austria (AQ Austria) and the Austrian Science Board. These institutions all support the survey and have contributed to the development of the questionnaire.
The greater the number of students who participate in the survey, the better the results will show that there is no such thing as “the students”. Very different people with different backgrounds, perceptions and goals study at Austria’s higher education institutions. The more detailed the information available on these various groups, the better the higher education institutions, student representatives and higher education policy can react to their different needs and develop corresponding, precisely targeted measures and support options. Accordingly, the information provided by each individual student is of utmost relevance.
The results of the last surveys showed that there is no (longer) such a thing as a “typical student”. The “untypical” is becoming increasingly “typical”. As a group, students are becoming increasingly heterogeneous, their study situations and living conditions are becoming more diverse. Bachelor degree students, students at universities of applied sciences, doctorate/PhD students, students at university colleges of teacher education, younger students, older students, women, men, students who live with their parents, students who work full-time and study on the side, students with children, foreign students, students with disabilities, etc. all live and study in different conditions and situations.
The report on the survey represents a very important information basis for Austrian and international higher education policy, since the information collected is not available from other data sources. The results will be published in several reports, will be made available for download and support the work of all manner of different players in the higher education policy sector.
Student grant policy is, for instance, regularly evaluated on the basis of the Student Social Survey. The results are used by psychological student counselling services and in the guidance service provided to final year school pupils. The data obtained are used to produce numerous special evaluations, e.g. for individual higher education institutions, the Austrian Union of Students (ÖH), the BMBWF, the Chambers of Labour and various working groups set up by the Universities Austria Association.
The results of the Austrian student social surveys have also been analysed since the 1990s for international comparison purposes (EUROSTUDENT). The “social dimension” plays an increasingly prominent role in the Bologna Process. Ministerial data from 30 national social surveys are also processed for the regular Bologna Process Implementation Report. The OECD and the EU likewise use data from these national surveys, since only students themselves can provide information on how the different higher education systems and grant/support programmes function.