Data Protection


Thank you for your participation


RWTH Aachen always strives to use your personal data carefully and confidentially. The process for the graduate study was intensively checked and approved by the International Center for University Research in Kassel or INCHER-Kassel and the RWTH Aachen Data Protection Officer. If you should like more clarification, please contact us.


FAQ - Data Protection

1. What is my address info used for?

None of the saved address data will be used for purposes other than for an invitation to and reminder of participation in the graduate survey.  Addresss data will only be processed by employees of the university.  All employees who have access to personal data during the project are subject to current data protection laws.  In this context, providing address data to third parties is strictly prohibited.  This also applies to employees who no longer work for the university.

2. Why is the university allowed to use my address data for this graduate survey?

Address information may be transferred and processed within the university for the purpose of science and research or to fulfill tasks of the university (NRW Higher Education Act, sections three and seven).  Both conditions are met within the framework of this graduate survey:

  1. The graduate survey is part of a nationwide scientific research project under the coordination of INCHER-Kassel.  The project, which encompasses 50 universities, received funding from the Federal Ministry of Education and Research.  Within the framework of the nationwide collaborative project "Study Conditions and Professional Success,"  INCHER will create a complete dataset including the answers of all participating graduates and analyses the anonymised data exclusively for scientific purposes in the field of higher education and graduate research.
  2. The results of the survey will be used in the participating universities for the purpose of research and quality management in teaching and study.

3. When will my address information be deleted?

The evaluation regulation on the implementation of quality assessment processes in teaching and learning states which personal data can be used for which instrument. Here it is states, that personal data must be deleted no later than six years later. This also applies to the RWTH Aachen graduate survey.

4. Where does the university get my address data from?

The address of graduates at the time of graduation were collected and stored by the university in accordance with the regulations on personal data collection and processing (NRW Higher Education Act, §3 and §7). Participation in the survey is always voluntary and can be declined at any time.  RWTH graduates' addresses are accessed from the RWTH student data base for an annual survey of one class of RWTH graduates.  The address data is exclusively used for the graduate survey and given to the project coordinator via removable media. Additionally the RWTH Aachen faculties have collectively determined concrete measures to be embraced within quality in teaching and learning in an evaluation regulation (de). Individual personal information ( for example name, street, zip code), address update, and creation of the database are determined in this regulation. The RWTH Aachen Data Protection Officer approves how the database is constructed.

5. How secure is the program, in which the online survey takes place?

A University of Kassel webserver is used to conduct the online survey. 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 INCHER-Kassel and given to RWTH Aachen.  All information that participants provide in the online questionnaire is encrypted when it is transferred.  The personal access code, sent to you in the mail, also provides security.  Participation in the survey is not possible without the access code. The process is approved by both Data Protection Officers from INCHER-Kassel and RWTH Aachen.  All data is kept strictly confidential. 

6. What makes up the database for the survey?

RWTH Aachen and its faculties have created evaluation regulations, in which they state specific measures for quality in academics and teaching.  These regulations contain the individual personal pieces of information (e.g. name, street, zip code), the methods for updating the addresses, and how the database is created.  The method of approach used to create the databank was approved by the RWTH Aachen Data Protection Officer.

7. What exactly happens in the online survey?

To participate, a graduate registers for the online survey using his or her anonymous access code.  Answers are saved during the survey on a server from the University of Kassel Computing Center without any reference to the participant's name or address.  Survey data is transferred via an encrypted connection.  At the end of the actual survey, the following questions are asked on a final page:  

  1. whether you are willing to participate on a follow up study in the next 3 to 4 years
  2. whether you are interested in a condensed report of the research results
  3. whether you are interested in information from the RWTH Alumni Network or the Alumni magazine

If interest in shown in at least one point, the participant is requested to enter their address information.  This address information is not saved on the same server from the University of Kassel Computing Center, but rather via an encrypted transfer to a server directly with INCHER-Kassel.  Address information is never saved in the same file as the survey data.  This is made possible by the use of an access code.  As a result, the survey data is anonymous at every point of the survey.  After the survey is finished, the survey data is processed by INCHER-Kasse and statistically analysed within the framework of higher education and graduate research.  Afterwards a division of the Department of Controlling will receive the anonymous survey data (i.e. without name and address) for its own evaluation.  Since contact is established with the graduates via the Department of Academic Affairs, the separation of personal information and the survey data is separated even within the personnel.  

At the end of the field phase, address information is saved on a data storage device by a project member at INCHER-Kassel and given to RWTH Aachen.  All INCHER employees are subject to current data protection laws.  This means that these employees are strictly prohibited from providing third parties with your address information.  Finally, the address information is delted from the INCHER-Kassel server. The data on the data storage device is encrypted, and the key is sent separately.  Everything is sent in the mail.  RWTH Aachen uses the addresses exclusively for the purpose indicated by the participants (e.g. for participation in a follow-up survey, sending them a summar report). This process has been approved by the RWTH Aachen and University at Kessel Data Protection Officers and is in accordance with the NRW and Hessen Federal State Data Protection Laws.

8. What happens to my address information?

Any address information you enter in the online questionnaire is saved in a database with the access code you received in the mail.  Since address information and survey data are saved on two separate servers, your address information is in a separate database from your answers.  Your answers are encrypted as they are transferred in the browser.

9. Does INCHER-Kassel use the data from the RWTH Graduate Survey?

INCHER-Kassel will create a complete dataset including the answers of all participating graduates.  Addresses are nto included in this dataset.  The anonymous data is analysed exclusively for scientific purposes in the field of higher education and graduate research and the corresponding results are published.  It is impossible to draw any inferences regarding the individual universities or individual participants through INCHER-Kassel's publications

10. How is anonymity ensured?

After every graduate is assigned a randomly generated access code, registration takes place anonymously with the code. The survey data is saved on a server at the University of Kassel and does not contain any personal information (e.g. name, address).  At the end of the survey, participants can note whether they would like to receive a summar report.  If so, an address is required and will be saved on a server at INCHER-Kassel, which is a separate from the server for the survey data.  This ensures that the anonymous survey data (e.g. evaluation of studies) is always kept separated from the personal information and that no reference to each other can be made.  All results from the survey are published together and thus inferences cannot be drawn to any one person.

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

All survey results are grouped togeher when publicized, thus making sure no inferences can be drawn to individual persons.  If, for example, there is only one female graduate in a subject area, results for this subject will be separated by gender.  RWTH Aachen will not share results either internally or externally, if less than ten people from one course of study have participated.

12. What is the difference between personal data and survey data?

According to the data protection regulations of North Rhine-Westphalia (§ 3 Abs. 1 DSG NRW), personal data is specific information about personal or factual characteristics relating to a certain person, such as:

  • Name, age, date of birth
  • Address, personalized email address
  • Phone number, marital status (not used)
  • Checking account number, credit card number (not used)
  • Vehicle ID number, vehicle license number (not used)
  • Identity card number, social security number, etc. (not used)

The RWTH Aachen evaluation regulations state exactly what individual personal information is (e.g. name, address, zip code). In contract, the survey  data are fully anonymised (since graduates participant via an access code and not their name) for qualitative purposes.  The only exception would be if the participant entered his or her personal data in the questionnaire without being asked to do so.  The separation of personal data and survey data is also reflected in the administrative structure for the survey: Address data is administered and graduates are contacted by  Department 1.0 Academic Affairs, while the survey is coordinated, evaluated, and reported by Department 6.0 Planning, Development, and Controlling.