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Study participation


'Study participation' measures those attending, studying or enrolled at school or anywhere else. It is grouped into:

  • full-time study (20 hours or more a week)
  • part-time study (less than 20 hours a week)
  • full-time and part-time study
  • not studying.

Relationship to questionnaire(s)

Data on study participation comes from question 29 on the individual form (PDF 395kb).

Subject population

The subject population is the people, families, households or dwellings to whom the variable applies.

The subject population for this variable is the census usually resident population aged 15 years and over.

Non-response rate

The 2006 non-response rate was 10.1 percent.

In 2001, study participation was part of the unpaid activities question, which had a non-response rate of 8.7 percent.

Quality Management Strategy priority level

Study participation is a defining variable.

The Census Quality Management Strategy assigns a priority level to all census variables.

Defining variables cover key subject populations that are important for policy development, evaluation or monitoring. These variables are given secondary priority in terms of quality, time and resources across all phases of the 2006 Census.

All data must meet minimum quality standards in order to make it suitable for use.

Comparability with 1996 and 2001 Census data

There are issues affecting the comparability of this data with the 1996 and 2001 Census data.

Care has to be taken in comparing this data with the 1996 and 2001 study participation data because there is little consistency between periods:

  • In 2006 and 1996, study participation was a separate variable, whereas in 2001, it was part of the 'unpaid activities' ariable.
  • In 1996, the reference period was the seven days prior to census day and, in 2001, the reference period was the four weeks prior to census day. In 2006, the question asked for current participation.
  • The timing of the academic year in relation to timing of the census impacts on the data for this variable. At the time of the 1996 Census, three universities had not started back for the academic year, but in 2001 all had started back, although most had not started tutorials. This caused a large number of students to consider themselves as studying 'part time'. In 2006, universities started semester one on 20 or 27 February, one or two weeks before census day.
  • In 1996, the questionnaire asked about part time and full time study, leaving respondents to determine the difference (although guidelines were provided in the help notes). In 2001 and 2006, respondents were asked whether they studied for '20 hours or more' or 'less than 20 hours'.
  • The decrease in the 'full time and part time study' category between 1996 and 2006 is largely due to a change in the way study participation was coded. In 2006, the questionnaires of respondents who had marked part time and full time were manually checked to determine the respondents' true intentions. This was not done in 1996.

Significant issues

Study participation had a high rate of non-response in 2006. The non-response is particularly high for respondents aged 70 years and over and non-European ethnic groups.

Other things to be aware of

  • All census data was subject to considerable checks (including edits) during processing and evaluation, to ensure that it meets quality standards and is suitable for use. These checks were applied to data supplied both on paper and on Internet forms. In addition to these quality checks, the Internet form had built-in editing functionality that directed respondents to the appropriate questions and ensured that their responses were valid. As a result of this, data from Internet forms may be of higher overall quality than data from paper forms. The significance of this will depend on the particular type of analysis being done.
  • There were differences between how the forms were completed on the Internet and on paper for this variable:
    • The Internet form did not allow the inconsistent multiple response of 'neither' to be selected along with a response indicating that the respondent was studying. If the 'neither' box was marked, any other responses to study participation disappeared. Inconsistent multiple responses to this question were possible when forms were completed on paper.
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