About the Questionnaire

  Stack of magazines on a shelf Copyright: RWTH Aachen



Virginia Köller

Project Coordinator


+49 241 80 94084



Thank you for your participation


Institute for Applied Statistics (ISTAT)

The RWTH Graduate Survey is being implemented as part of a scientific research project, the KOAB project, which is coordinated by the Institute for Applied Statistics (ISTAT).

Universities Involved

At least 40 universities in Germany collaborate in the KOAB project annually by setting up and implementing graduate surveys, that contribute to the quality development of university education.

Evaluation Regulation

The current RWTH Aachen Evaluation Regulation describes in detail the instruments used for quality assurance and devellopment and was reworked and reapproved at the beginning of 2010 by all university members. The regulation includes a description of the RWTH Aachen Graduate Survey process.

RWTH Table of Figures

All key university data for the past academic year and budget period are presented in the RWTH Aachen Table of Figures. This publication forms the foundation for the implementation of the RWTH Graduate Survey.


General Questions Before the Survey

1. Was ist das ISTAT?

Das ISTAT ist eine Forschungseinrichtung, welche verschiedene wissenschaftliche Dienstleistungen für Hochschulen anbietet.

2. Who can participate in the graduate survey?

Basically all RWTH graduates, from 2008 until now, are invited to participate in the RWTH Graduate Survey.  The survey took place for the first time in 2008.  In order to be able to assess the job situation of graduates', graduates are invited to take part in the survey approximately 1.5 years after graduation.
Survey year 2009 includes all graduates who completed their studies in the winter term of 2008/09 or in the summer term of 2009.  They received their invitations to participate in the survey in the fall of 2010.

Survey year 2008 includes all graduates who completed their studies in the winter term of 2007/2008 or in the summer term of 2008.  They received their invitations to participate in the survey in the fall of 2009.


3. What happens in the survey process?

Every year, graduates in the class to be surveyed, receive an announcement email in the summer and in the fall are invited to participate.  The survey takes place approximately 1.5 years after they graduate from RWTH Aachen.  The invitation includes a personal access code, with which students can participate on the online survey website.  Your entries are saved during the survey period on a University of Kassel University Computing Center server.  After the survey period, the survey data are edited by the ISTAT and given to RWTH Aachen.

4. Is a paper questionnaire also available?

Yes, in the event it is not possible for you to fill out the questionnaire online, we will gladly mail you a paper copy.  Just notify the RWTH Graduate Survey Team.

5. What is the personal access code?

Every graduate is assigned a randomly generated access code.  This code is included in the invitation mailed to them. The access code is very useful for the survey, as it performs the following functions:

  1. Each participant must enter his or her access code in order to complete the online questionnaire.  As a result, unauthorized persons are prevented from participating in the survey.
  2. The code ensures that only individuals from the targeted group of graduates participate in the survey.
  3. Participants can quit the survey at any time and complete the questionnaire at a later time by using the access code.
  4. Participants in the survey remain anonymous.  No information on names and addresses are stored together with questionnaire answers.  Using the code, it is possible to store survey data and address data separately.
  5. The access code makes it possible to remind potentional participants to take part in the survey.  This is done by monitoring  "unused" access codes.  Potential survey participants may be reminded to take part up to four times during the course of the survey.

6. Where can I obtain more information on data protection?

Here, you can get a detailed look at how your responses are used.  All uses abide by data protection regulations.

7. How is the gross response rate defined and what is its purpose?

The gross response rate is considered the number of all graduates, who participated in the survey, regardless of whether

  • their address was available
  • available addresses were valid
  • valid address could be looked up

The primary purpose of the gross response rate is to optimize the method of establishing contact and updating addresses.  Example: Is a certain group of graduates easier to reach than another group?

8. How is the net response rate defined and what is its purpose?

The net response rate is the number of graduates, who participated in the survey, not including those for whom

  • no address was availble
  • the available address was invalid
  • no valid address could be found

The net response rate is the official response rate.  It is used to see whether groups of participants are actually representative of the basic population of the survey class in question, e.g. gender or faculty.


During the Survey

1. There is an alert message when I click the link to the online questionniare. Which browsers are supported?

As far as we know, all browers with JavaScipt capability are support.  However, different browsers may render the questionniare in slightly different ways.  To protect your privacy, your responses will be encrypted during their transmission to us.  If your Firefox browser for example fails to establish an encrypted connection and displays an alert message, you can try the following:

Solution 1: Use the most up-to-date version of Internet Explorer (using the most up-to-date version better protexts your computer against online threats)

Solution 2: If you wish to use Firefox, you need to import the relevant security certicate, issued by the "Deutsches Forschungsnetz (DFN-PKI)".  We recommend that you temporarily accept the certificate for this session.

2. Why do I need to enter an access code?

The access code is to ensure that only the targeted group of graduates takes part in the survey.  It also allows participants to quit the survey at any time and complete the questionnaire at a later time using the access code.  The personal access code play a role in the completion of the graduate study.  You can find more information here.

3. What types of questions can I expect in the survey?

There are five different types of questions in the survey:

Single answers: For these questions, you are asked to choose one answer from a list of options - please choose the one that best applies to your situation.  For some questions, if the choices do not fit your situation, you have the opportunity to fill in your own answer.
Questions answered on a scale (Evaluation/Assessment): We often have an answer scale of 1 to 5 (e.g. 1 = "very satisfied" to 5 = "very dissatisfied").  For these questions, you can only pick the evaluation that best applies to you.
Multiple answers: Some questions ask you to mark all applicable answers out of a list of options.  Here you can choose multiple or all of the answers that apply to you.
Picking from a list: Some questions require you to pick an option from a list.  Click on the smal arrow in order to open the list.  Some questions have text answers, leaving room for your individual answer.  Please write your answer in the area provided.

4. When are my answers saved?

Your answers are saved when you leave a page by clicking the "forward" or "back" buttons.

5. How can I revise my answers?

You can revise your answers at any time.  Only the latest entry for each question will be saved in the database.  For all questions, for which you have to click a box or circle in order to answer, you are always able to undo the checkmark or selected button by clicking on the field once again.  For those questions with a circle, your answer can be changed by clicking another option.

6. How can I finish the survey at a later time?

You can quit the survey at any time.  if you resume the survey at a later time, all previous given answers will be availabe in the online questionnaire.  This is possible by logging in with your personal access code.


7. Why are there no sections "J" and "N" in the questionnaire?

When printing out a paper version of a questionnaire,  an "I" could easily be mistaken for a "J" or an "N" for an "M," or vice versa, because these letters are so similar. Because paper and online questionnaire should be as similar as possible from a methodical point of view, the letters "J" and "M" have been left out from the online version of the questionnaire as well.

8. Why are some questions "missing"?

It is possible that individual questions are "missing" because they do not apply to your individual situation.  If, for example, you do not have children, the question about the number of children is irrelevant to you.  In this case, the question about the number of children and corresponding question number will be "missing" from your questionnaire.

9. What happens to my answers?

Your entries are saved during the survey period on a University of Kassel University Computing Center server.  The questionnaire data is encrypted before it is transmitted. Your name, address, and when applicable, your email address, are not saved in this database, since your questionniare data and personal address information are saved on two different servers.

10. What happens to my address data?

Your address data will be stored in the database together with the personal access code you received either via email or mail.  Your questionnaire answers will be stored independently from this data on a different server.  The transmission of your data over the browser is encrypted.

11. Where can I get more information about data protection?

Here, you can get a detailed look at how your responses are used. 


After the Survey

1. What happens after ISTAT summarizes the data?

The RWTH Graduate Survey takes place every year from October till February of the following year.  During the survey period, your answers are temporarily saved on a University of Kassel University Computing Center server.  At the end of the survey period, the survey data are processed by ISTAT.  RWTH Aachen then receives an anonymous document with all the participants' answers, so that staff at RWTH Aachen can then evaluate the data.  ISTAT also provides a general data set consisting of all of the answers from the participating universities, as part of a nationwide research project.

2. How can I get a summary of the research report?

Please fill out the corresponding page in the online questionnaire.  This appears at the end of the survey, after you have already answered all the questions.  You can also note here, whether you wish to participate in the follow-up survey, three to four years after this survey, or whether you would like more information about the RWTH Alumni Network.  This last page is separately saved from the answer data on another server, in order to ensure that address and answer data are always used separately.


3. How are the survey results published by RWTH?

RWTH Aachen and her faculties have created guidelines, in which they state specific measures for quality in academics and teaching.  Various student surveys take place to support this goal, including the RWTH Graduate Survey.

The results of the survey are summarized in reports and provided to the Deans of Academic Affairs.  The results will also be presented in the involved faculty committees and discussed with student representatives.  Furthermore, faculty representatives will meet with the Vice Rector for Teaching and Learning to discuss the survey results.  All measures agreed upone will be made part of the catalogue of measures for the evaluation and (re)accreditation.  A methodological report on the survey as well as an anonymised summary of results will be published too.

4. How are the survey results published by ISTAT?

ISTAT publishes the data from the graduate survey in an anonymised format (names of the universities are not used) for further research.  No results are published that specificly identify a university by name.  ISTAT creates a dataset of the universities' results, based on questionnaires completed by all participating graduates.  The anonymous data are analysed and published exclusively for higher education and graduate research.  It is impossible to draw any inferences regarding individual universities or participants in any ISTAT publications, since the results are reported at a superordinate level.

5. Can I be identified through combinations of certain features, e.g. subject and institution?

We make sure that individual participants cannot be identified when we format the data.  If, for example, there is only one female graduate in a subject area, results for this subject will be separated by gender.

6. Where can I get more information about data protection?

Here, you can get a detailed look at how your responses are used.


External Links