Access to student and staff personal information for surveys


This information is provided to assist you in collecting personal information to undertake surveys of ANU students and staff. The guidance will help you complete an application for human ethics approval for research projects and manage personal information consistent with the ANU Privacy Policy and Privacy Act 1988.


How the University uses student and staff personal information is governed by the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) and the ANU Privacy Policy. The Privacy Policy expressly states the purposes for which the University may use personal information. In summary, student personal information may be used for facilitating their program administration and staff personal information may be used for facilitating their employment relationship.

Can I get personal information for my survey?

Where the University, or its staff, wishes to use information for an unrelated purpose, consent must be obtained from individuals, before their personal information is collected, stored, used or disclosed. Staff undertaking research projects may wish to recruit research participants (for example, to complete a survey), from the ANU student and staff cohorts. As this is not a purpose for which their personal information is collected, researchers will need to collect express, opt-in, consent from individuals, as a first step.

If you are planning a survey and are not sure whether your use of personal information for the survey would be possibly under the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) and the ANU Privacy Policy contact the ANU Senior Privacy Officer on

Recruiting research participants

Recruiting from the ANU community is very similar to recruiting in other public spheres. Whilst researchers are not able to collect contact information from ANU systems, they may promote their research and recruitment activities in the public sphere. In short, recruitment methods should not use personal information, such as emails and addresses, unless an individual has given their express consent to be contacted for participating in research activities.

Options for recruitment include:

  • The ANU website
  • School, colleges and other websites
  • Digital and physical noticeboards on campus
  • Campus newsletters and publications such as On and off campus
  • Social media including facebook, twitter and Instagram
  • Digital advertising on infoscreens
  • Course sites.

In the public recruitment methods, individuals can be provided with a means to register via a sign-up process or contact the research project to participate in the research activities.

Please note: participants must be provided the opportunity to withdraw their consent and participation at any time.

Staff who may have access to personal information in the course of their employment duties must take care not to use that information for any purpose, other than the reason(s) they have access to the information.

Privacy Impact Assessments

If you will be collecting identifiable personal information as part of your research, you will likely need to undertake a Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA).

A PIA is an important component of the University's protection of privacy and is to be implemented as part of the University's privacy by design requirement under the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth).

A PIA identifies how a project can have an impact on an individual's privacy, and makes recommendations for managing, minimising or eliminating those privacy impacts. The PIA process should be included as part of the project planning processes, and recorded in the project plan and risk reporting. It should be revisited and updated when changes to a project are considered.

Privacy notices

If you will be collecting identifiable personal information as part of your research, you will need to include a privacy notice at the time you collect personal information.

A privacy notice should inform individuals about how their personal information will be handled, including:

  • the purpose for which the University is collecting their personal information
  • whether the University will pass their information on to third parties
  • that further information can be found in University privacy policy.

For surveys which require ethics approval this information should be included in the Participant Information sheets and consent forms. See for more information.  

More information about what should be included in a privacy notice, and example templates are available on the ANU Privacy website.

Further information and support

For more information about privacy matters or for assistance with PIAs, please contact the Senior Privacy Officer on or 6125 4679.