Data protocols

Introduction

About the data collection

The Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching (QILT) are a coherent suite of government endorsed surveys for higher education, which cover the student life cycle from commencement to employment. Further information is available at education.gov.au/upholding-quality-quality-indicators-learning-and-teaching.

The QILT surveys currently include the Student Experience Survey, Graduate Outcomes Survey, Graduate Outcomes Survey (Longitudinal) and the Employer Satisfaction Survey. Results from the surveys are published at qilt.edu.au. Data from these surveys is collectively referred to as ‘QILT data’ throughout these protocols.

The Social Research Centre (SRC) has been contracted to conduct the QILT on behalf of the Australian Government Department of Education and Training. SRC has primary responsibility for the management and release of QILT data.

These protocols set out the principles, rules and procedures governing the access to, and use and dissemination of, QILT data collected by the Social Research Centre (SRC). They establish arrangements to ensure that disclosure of QILT data complies with all legal and policy requirements, with the principle aim of protecting the privacy of individuals and maintaining the confidentiality and integrity of the data.

Applicants who request QILT data agree to the terms of these data protocols and must ensure that the integrity, security and privacy of QILT data are maintained. Failure to comply with these protocols may result in the rejection of a request for QILT data.

These protocols will be reviewed periodically by the Department of Education and Training and SRC, and may be amended from time to time. The most recent version of the protocols will be made available on the QILT website and users of QILT data are responsible for ensuring they are complying with the most recent version of the protocols.

Principles for data release

These protocols have been established to ensure that the department and SRC meet their respective obligations under the Higher Education Support Act 2003 (HESA) and the Privacy Act 1988 (the Privacy Act), in particular the overarching obligation to protect the privacy of individual respondents to QILT surveys.

Approved purposes

The Social Research Centre will in circumstances where it is lawful and practical to do so, make QILT data available to applicants where there is a demonstrable need for the data to inform research into the provision of higher education. SRC must be advised in writing prior to the publication of any material based on or including QILT data.

Governing legislation and the protection of privacy

The department and SRC both comply with the Privacy Act and HESA in their collection, use, management, storage and disclosure of QILT data.

‘Personal information’ is defined in the Privacy Act as:

… information or an opinion about an identified individual, or an individual who is reasonably identifiable:

  1. whether the information or opinion is true or not; and
  2. whether the information or opinion is recorded in a material form or not.

To ensure compliance with the requirements of HESA and the Privacy Act, SRC will only release QILT data where individuals are not identified or reasonably identifiable (by providing de-identified or aggregated data). Generally, where the cell value is less than five, data is suppressed (i.e. the number is removed from the table or file supplied). Consequential suppression of data may also be applied. Where data has been suppressed, this will be indicated in the supplied tables or files.

In limited circumstances SRC or the department may be required or authorised by or under law to disclose personal information, as defined under the Privacy Act, to third parties for certain purposes.

Under HESA, the department is authorised to disclose personal information, including unit record files/identified QILT data, obtained or created for certain purposes under the Act, to certain entities for specified purposes. The authorised entities, the purposes for which personal information may be disclosed and whether consent to the disclosure of personal information is required, are as follows:

Authorised bodies Authorised purposes Consent by providers required for disclosure
Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Authority (TEQSA) TEQSA Act No
Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) National VET Regulator Act No
State and Territory Governments

Improving the provision of, or research relating to the provision of higher education or vocational education and training

No

Tertiary Admissions Centres (TACs)

Improving the provision of, or research relating to the provision of higher education or vocational education and training

Yes

Higher education and vocational education and training providers for the purposes of HESA

Improving the provision of, or research relating to the provision of higher education or vocational education and training

Yes

Universities Australia

Improving the provision of, or research relating to the provision of higher education or vocational education and training

Yes

Australian Council for Private Education and Training (ACPET)

Improving the provision of, or research relating to the provision of higher education or vocational education and training

Yes

Council of Private Higher Education (COPHE)

Improving the provision of, or research relating to the provision of higher education or vocational education and training

Yes

Group of Eight Australia

Improving the provision of, or research relating to the provision of higher education or vocational education and training

Yes

All parties receiving personal information under HESA:

  1. remain bound in relation to that information by the relevant governing provisions in the Privacy Act and HESA; and
  2. agree to use that information only for the purposes for which the information was disclosed and not to disclose (including by way of publishing or making the information available in the public domain), except where the disclosure is required or authorised by or under law.

Your obligations

To protect the security and confidentiality of QILT data, approved recipients of QILT data must:

  1. comply at all times with any security requirements notified by the Social Research Centre (SRC) relating to QILT data;
  2. store the QILT data securely and protect the data from loss and unauthorised use and access;
  3. ensure that only those people with a genuine need to view the data will have access to the data;
  4. only retain the data while there is a genuine need to keep it, and then destroy the data;
  5. not to engage in any data-matching activities involving the data without the prior written consent of SRC; and
  6. not attempt to re-identify the data if it is provided in a de-identified or aggregated form.

Accessing data

Requirements for data requests

All requests for data can be accessed through link found on the website.

The applicant must ensure that the data request:

  1. Clearly identifies the data being requested and in what format.
  2. Where unit record files and/or data that identifies individuals is being requested (i.e. personal information), the request form must set out the relevant Privacy Act, HESA and/or other legislative provisions, which the applicant considers to authorise disclosure of the information sought.
  3. Sets out the purpose for requesting the data and how the data will be used.
  4. Sets out whether the data will be matched with any other data and describe the potential implications of this (including possible unintended consequences).
  5. Describes whether the data will be disclosed by the applicant to any third parties and, if so, for what purpose.
  6. States whether the data will be published, including in what medium, and the reason for the proposed publication.

Employees of organisations listed as ‘authorised bodies’ in the table above should contact the Social Research Centre (SRC) to discuss data requirements and arrangements for access prior to completing the form.

Review of decisions

The validity of QILT data requests will be assessed in the first instance by SRC. Applicants may request a review of decisions by emailing qilt@education.gov.au. Final decisions regarding the release of data will be at the Department of Education and Training’s absolute discretion.

The Social Research Centre will notify the applicant of whether their request has been approved and will manage the release of any QILT data.

The Social Research Centre will provide the appropriate documents (for example, relevant confidentiality agreements) for formal signature if deemed necessary.

The original, completed and signed documents must be returned to SRC.

The Social Research Centre and the department reserve the right to reject any request for QILT data where an applicant fails to, or opts not to, comply with the requirements of these protocols. QILT data must only be used in accordance with these protocols and for the purposes for which the data was disclosed.

Complaints

Individuals or groups wishing to register a complaint regarding the use of QILT data should in the first instance lodge that complaint with the data user concerned.

Entities authorised to receive QILT data agree to address in an adequate and timely manner any complaints they receive in relation to their use of QILT data.

If individuals or groups are unsatisfied with the outcome of a complaint lodged with an entity about its use of QILT data, they may raise the issue with SRC.

Entities authorised to receive QILT data agree to co-operate with SRC and the department to address complaints about the use of QILT data.

Under the Privacy Act, individuals who believe their personal information has been mishandled have the right to lodge a complaint with the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC).

Fees

Data requests over and above standard QILT reporting to higher education institutions will attract fees and charges dependant on the complexity of the request. Minimum charge for the provision of additional data is $510 (inc GST) and $255 for each additional hour.

Contact

For further information on accessing QILT data, please contact info@qilt.edu.au