Less than half of students trust universities to keep data safe

UK students are concerned about rumours of universities facing data security issues, says survey

December 5, 2019
Source: iStock

Less than half of UK students feel assured that their university will handle their data securely, according to a new study.

A survey of 1,078 full-time undergraduates in the UK found that only 45 per cent were confident that their institution would keep their personal data secure and private, while 22 per cent said that they were not confident. The remaining third of respondents were unsure.

The research, undertaken for the Higher Education Policy Institute by polling company YouthSight, found that only about a third of students were aware of how their institution handles their personal data (32 per cent) and a similar proportion felt their institution had clearly explained how their data are used and stored (31 per cent).

Students were particularly keen for their institution to protect their contact details, medical information and copies of passports or other identification data.

The majority of students agreed that they were concerned about rumours of universities facing data security issues (69 per cent), while 19 per cent were unconcerned and 12 per cent were unsure.

Most students also said that if they had been made aware that a university had a poor security reputation they would have been less likely to apply to that institution (65 per cent), while 31 per cent said it would have made no difference, according to the report, published on 5 December.

Almost half of respondents (48 per cent) said that they thought it was fine for institutions to share students’ health and well-being information with parents or guardians, but just 35 per cent were supportive of parents or guardians being contacted about academic performance issues at university.

Meanwhile, just a quarter of students (26 per cent) said that they were comfortable with their university reviewing their social media posts if it allowed them to better identify and target struggling students with support services. The majority (57 per cent) said that they would not be comfortable with this.

Rachel Hewitt, Hepi’s director of policy and advocacy, said that it was “critical that universities are open with students” about how their personal and sensitive information will be used and they should “take action to ensure students can have confidence in the security of their data”.



Print headline: Students wary of entrusting data to universities

Please Login or Register to read this article.

Register to continue

Get a month's unlimited access to THE content online. Just register and complete your career summary.

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments

Related articles