Frequently Asked Questions

About IR

What is institutional research?

The Office of Institutional Research (IR) serves the university by empowering stakeholders to make data-informed decisions.  This includes the following areas: 1) identify data/information needs, 2) collect, analyze, interpret and report data/information, 3) support and lead strategic planning, accreditation, and assessment initiatives, 4) serve as stewards of data/information, 5) educate information producers, users, and consumers. 

The Association for Institutional Research expands on these functions.

What is the mission of the Office of Institutional Research?

Mission Statement: The Office of Institutional Research (IR) provides and coordinates information support for reporting, decision-making, and planning activities to help fulfill the stated mission and goals of the University of Portland.

What is the IR Office’s strategic plan?

Please login to the UP Pilots portal and navigate to the Institutional Research site.  The IR Office’s strategic plan is available for download as a pdf.

Data Access FAQs

How do I get data?

There are multiple ways to access data!  

The most immediate access for a wide variety of data is through the Office of Institutional Research's website. One of the best ways to navigate the site is to scan through the FAQs to find your question, which will direct you to a location with a relevant answer.  

Most questions are covered by the link to Institutional Data.  Second, there are repositories of data that reside externally (e.g. IPEDS, US News & World Report rankings, etc). Please see the link for External Resources to access that information. Third, if the data you are seeking is at the individual student level, please see the FAQs regarding Protecting Data. Lastly, if your data request is not covered, Submit a Data Request.

How do I directly contact the IR office with a specific data request?

Initial, brief phone calls are appreciated as this contact often helps clarify your request. 

Second, please submit a detailed request via the link to Submit a Data Request. The Data Request Form asks for your request’s purpose, timeline, description, and attachments. A lack of detail is the number one cause for delays in providing data! 

Once you have submitted your data request, you will receive an automatic email reply confirming the request has been entered into the request system. You can reply to the email with any relevant documents. Turnaround is greatly expedited if you can forward any previous reports, tables/charts, surveys, data definitions, etc. Providing previous reports also allows the IR office to validate its method and ensure the new product is accurate. 

Lastly, it is critical to describe the data request’s purpose AND timeline. It allows the IR office to recommend other data that can support the request, it ensures the IR office is not assisting with redundant work (e.g. two members of the same committee inadvertently requesting the same data), it allows the IR office to best prioritize the request, and it makes clear to the IR office when you need the data report.

Can I email data requests?

Please use the Submit a Data Request link. This standardized way of documenting data requests ensures your request does not get overlooked in an email inbox. The link already submits your data request as an email and if submitted successfully, the system will automatically email you a confirmation of your submission. The system also will allow you to save your request as a PDF document that you should save for your records. Please do not email individual staff members with data requests.

How soon can I get a response after I submit a request?

While the IR office is always available to serve as a resource to the UP community, please note the current volume of data requests and projects makes it difficult to provide data in a timely manner.  There is no standard turnaround time given that requests vary widely in their complexity.  The office endeavors to provide data as quickly as possible, however it is best to provide as much notice as possible if you have a data request tied to a deadline.  Please make it clear in the data request submission form what your timeline is and feel free to follow up with the IR office, as needed.

Why does the data I have on a report differ from data posted on the IR website?

The first response is, are we sure that the report and the website are describing the same exact population?  If yes, the source of the discrepancy will likely depend on multiple factors such as whether the data was pulled at different times, whether different data definitions were used to build the report, etc.  Given normal changes ranging from staff turnaround to ongoing efforts to improve data integrity, it is not uncommon for data reports to have minor discrepancies.  Moving forward, the IR office endeavors to include a cover sheet with any data disseminated that documents how and when the data was processed and analyzed.  This facilitates a replicable, transparent, and efficient process for reporting data.  Please also see FAQs on Data Governance.

What should I do if I think I found inaccurate data posted on the IR website?

If you notice something that seems inaccurate on the IR website, please do not hesitate to bring this to the attention of the IR office. It is greatly appreciated! The IR office endeavors to provide the most accurate data to the UP community, but errors happen from time to time.  Please feel free to use the anonymous, brief, online Feedback Form

I am UP faculty/staff. What data can I request?

A lot depends on the purpose of the request.  The IR office has ongoing plans to make common aggregate metrics needed for accreditation and assessment purposes available on the IR website using Tableau dashboards.  Because the university-wide strategic plan is a major focus of the IR office, data requests with the purpose of supporting the strategic plan are a high priority.  However, external agencies often make data requests with very little turnaround time.  Mandatory reporting to the federal government (i.e. IPEDS) is ongoing throughout the year and is another major task.  Other mandatory reporting to ensure continued funding from grant agencies are prioritized.  Requests from media reporters, educational institution ranking agencies, and data sharing consortiums also typically require diligent attention.  Therefore, if the purpose of the request ties to these ongoing projects, it is welcome.

For requests of individual level data, please refer to FAQs on Data Protection.

I am a UP student. Can I request data?

Unfortunately, it is not the role of the IR office to directly assist students with research and/or class projects. Rather the IR office’s priorities are focused on keeping UP in compliance with external reporting and informing UP faculty and staff on data that assists them with making sound policy decisions.  The personal interest and motivation of the IR office is focused on improving the quality of life for all students.

I am a someone outside of the UP community interested in UP data. Can I request data?

It entirely depends on the purpose of the request, including whether this is a new or recurring request.  Please see other Data Access FAQs for further information.

Where can I get additional guidance related to grant proposals and grant reports?

Please refer to the most recent version of the Faculty Handbook for the University Relations Institutional Policy for All University Grants.  The University Relations/Office of Development centralizes the grant process (grant submission and reporting) for the entire University of Portland.

How do I access the internal Tableau Dashboards?

Please login to the UP Pilots portal and navigate to the Institutional Research site.  Click on link for Internal Data and Dashboards.  In order to view any internal dashboards, you need Tableau Reader software.  The software should be installed on your computer as part of regular system upgrades, however you can download the Reader via the link on the IR site.  Then you will be able to click on the link for the desired internal dashboard to download and view it. 

Institutional Data FAQs

What is the Common Data Set (CDS)? Where can I find the archives?

The Common Data Set (CDS) initiative is a collaborative effort among data providers in the higher education community such as the IR office and data publishers such as the College Board, Peterson’s, and the U.S. News & World Report. The goal is to improve data quality and accuracy, as well as reduce the reporting burden on data providers. The CDS provides standards and data definitions that have been vetted widely within the higher education community. Whenever possible the IR office provides data that adheres to the CDS reporting standards. The CDS is often requested by external resource agencies and can be found at the link below.

Additional details on standards and data definitions are available at

Read the Common Data Set archives for the University of Portland.

What data can I find in the Common Data Set (CDS)?

CDS data is available for every academic year going back to 2002.  The pdf files are sorted into the following sections:

A) Basic institutional profile information

B) Enrollment and Persistence (undergraduate and graduate enrollment, enrollment by race/ethnicity, degrees awarded, Four and six year graduation rates, 1st year retention rate)

C) Freshman Admission (applications, admittances, admissions requirements, SAT and high school GPA)

D) Transfer Admission (applications, admittances, admissions requirements)

E) Academic Offerings and Policies

F) Student Life (out-of-state residents, activities offered)

G) Annual Expenses (cost of attendance)

H) Financial Aid (aid awarded to enrolled undergraduates)

I) Faculty and Class Size (faculty headcount, student to faculty ratio, class size)

J) Degrees Conferred (degrees awarded by major)

Where can I find basic student data as of the most recent Fall semester?

As the IR Office transitions from the old website to the upgraded website, some features are being maintained yet continually improved. The At a Glance page compiles tables that used to reside on multiple pages. This includes undergraduate and graduate student enrollment and admissions data.

What is a Tableau Dashboard?

The IR office is working to make data available via Tableau Dashboards. View the Tableau dashboard site to get oriented and access supporting documentation.

The dashboards are powered by Tableau software, which means the data is available all the time, updated regularly and directly from Banner, and is interactive.

How many students were enrolled during a certain period of time?

View the Enrollment Dashboard.

The dashboard is powered by Tableau software, which means the data is available all the time, updated regularly and directly from Banner, and is interactive.

View the Tableau dashboard site to get oriented and access supporting documentation.

IPEDS can be used to find data on other schools. Please see the External Resources FAQ for information on IPEDS and College Navigator.

How many majors were enrolled during a certain period of time?

View the Enrollment Dashboard.

The dashboard is powered by Tableau software, which means the data is available all the time, updated regularly and directly from Banner, and is interactive.

The MajorsUnduplicated and MajorsDuplicated tabs correspond to headcounts of primary majors only and headcounts of multiple majors and degrees, respectively.  In other words, use the unduplicated headcount for reports that need to match the total enrollment for the university.  Use the duplicated headcount for departmental reports that need the total headcount of a given major. 

View the Tableau dashboard site to get oriented and access supporting documentation.

IPEDS can be used to find data on other schools. Please see the External Resources FAQ for information on IPEDS and College Navigator.

Can I see a breakdown of students by race and ethnicity?

Please see the FAQ for What data can I find in the Common Data Set?

What was the retention rate for a given cohort?

View the Retention Dashboard.

The dashboard is powered by Tableau software, which means the data is available all the time, updated regularly and directly from Banner, and is interactive.

View the Tableau dashboard site to get oriented and access supporting documentation.

IPEDS can be used to find data on other schools. Please see the External Resources FAQ for information on IPEDS and College Navigator.

What was the graduation rate for a given cohort?

View the Graduation Dashboard.

The dashboard is powered by Tableau software, which means the data is available all the time, updated regularly and directly from Banner, and is interactive.

View the Tableau dashboard site to get oriented and access supporting documentation.

IPEDS can be used to find data on other schools. Please see the External Resources FAQ for information on IPEDS and College Navigator.

How can I suggest additional data I would like to see available on the IR website?

The IR Office is always receptive to feedback on how to provide better service that supports the university community.  Please take 5 minutes to complete an anonymous feedback form.  This form can be used to suggest additional content you'd like to see available on the IR Office website, rate the IR Office's service, and provide general feedback.

Click here to access the feedback form.

External Resources FAQs

What is IPEDS?

From the NCES website: IPEDS is the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System. It is a system of multiple surveys conducted annually by the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). IPEDS gathers information from every college, university, and technical and vocational institution that participates in the federal student financial aid programs. The Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended, requires that institutions that participate in federal student aid programs report data on enrollments, program completions, graduation rates, faculty and staff, finances, institutional prices, and student financial aid. These data are made available to students and parents through the College Navigator college search Web site and to researchers and others through the IPEDS Data Center.

The wealth of data available via IPEDS makes it a valuable resource for internal and external stakeholders interested in better understanding and benchmarking postsecondary education institutions.

What is College Navigator?

The U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) maintains this online data repository. It provides commonly requested IPEDS data such as graduation rate in an easily accessible site to the public. See the additional FAQs for a list of what kind of data is available and how to use this data source for benchmarking.

This website is available at this link and is also listed in the IR website's External Resources.

How can I use College Navigator to get IPEDS data?

The website lets you enter the name of a specific school or use search options (e.g. enrollment, institution type, admissions selectivity, religious affiliation) to build a list of schools using specific criteria. Clicking on the name of an individual institution takes you to the most recent IPEDS data for the school on tuition, financial aid, enrollment, student demographics, admissions, retention rate, graduation rate, lists of programs/majors offered, service members, varsity athletic teams, accreditations, campus security, and loan default rates.

This website is available at this link and is also listed in the IR website's External Resources.

How can I use External Resources for benchmarking data?

The IR office website's list of External Resources is available at this link.

The IR office's website's External Resources section feature downloadable tutorials on accessing data for benchmarking.

Different external resources vary in the level of data detail they provide and in the customizability of choosing comparison schools. Comparing institutions using IPEDS provides the most detailed benchmarking data. College Navigator provides the most commonly requested IPEDS data. IPEDS Data Feedback Reports provide overview data with a pre-selected group of comparison schools.

What is the IPEDS Data Feedback Report (DFR)?

Every fall, a new Data Feedback Report (DFR) is created and compares UP’s data with a group of peer comparison institutions.  This important benchmarking document is publicly available.  UP’s DFRs are available in the DFR Archives at this link.  The DFR contains brief data overview of various topics such as enrollment, degrees, financial aid, retention, graduation, finance, faculty/staff, and libraries.

Data Governance FAQs

What is data governance?

Data governance is both an organizational process and a structure; it establishes responsibility for data, organizing program area staff to collaboratively and continuously improve data quality through the systematic creation and enforcement of policies, roles, responsibilities, and procedures (National Forum on Education Statistics, 2011).

Essentially, the ambitious charge for stakeholders involved in data governance is to develop and support data practices that promote institutional mission fulfillment, support informed decisions, and facilitate strategic planning.  Ensuring a solid data foundation obliges the collaborative work of leaders and experts across campus attending to what falls under the data governance umbrella: data definitions, process ownership and authority, accountability, security and privacy, data access, reporting needs and requirements, and research priorities. 

Why is data governance important?

A culture of data informed decision-making requires that the university’s data infrastructure be sound and that campus stakeholders are empowered with timely and accurate data.  A continuous investment of collective time and resources is necessary to meet today’s extensive demand for informed and nimble decision-making across the university. 

As an advocate for robust data governance, the Office of Institutional Research at UP hopes to broadly empower the wise use of data by all stakeholders involved in achieving the institutional mission. As increasing numbers of data consumers collect and access data, this diffuse network has the potential to expedite data informed decision-making at the significant risk of creating redundant data silos.  Data governance encompasses both the top-down and grassroots strategies that establish effective university-wide data practices. 

The work is not simple, however the increase in trust and consistency in the data pays dividends.

Where can I find data definitions?

Data definitions can be found by navigating to the Supporting Documents for the Tableau Dashboards or by reading the Data Definitions page. The Institutional Research Pilots portal space is the intended future space that will host fuller data dictionary documentation. The link will be available via the Data Governance Resources website.

How can I suggest new terms to add to the data definitions resource?

Please feel free to suggest new terms you would like defined to support your data informed activities by reaching out to any staff in the IR office. You can also submit anonymous suggestions and general feedback using the brief, online Feedback Form.

What are the latest data governance priorities and projects?

The large group of stakeholders involved in data governance are constantly pursuing multiple, long-term and short-term projects to improve the data infrastructure of the university.  Some of the latest priorities and projects are listed on the data governance site.

How can I make time for working on data-related tasks?

The work that any UP employee conducts on data-related tasks can be time-consuming.  However, it's important to document data processes and definitions.  The work is complex and helps offices be prepared to for changes over time.  The IR Office plans to regularly host Data Retreats as a way for any UP employee to have uninterrupted time and a supportive space to build more efficient data tools that directly assist the office and connect/brainstorm with other offices.  See the Data Retreat site for more details!

Data Protection FAQs

What is FERPA?

FERPA is the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, a federal law that protects the privacy of student educational records and gives students certain rights over their educational records.  The law applies to all schools who receive federal funds, including the University of Portland.  Current and former students are protected under FERPA, and protection begins once a student enrolls. 

Additional information is available from the Registrar’s Office and the U.S. Dept of Education.

How does FERPA apply to requesting IR Office data?

There are certain circumstances when educational records can be disclosed without a student’s consent such as to school officials with a legitimate educational interest and to accrediting organizations.

Generally, the IR Office does not provide data regarding individuals.  The IR Office takes seriously our responsibility to protect all confidential, personal data.  Please see FERPA resources cited in other FAQs regarding what circumstances data at the individual level can be provided.  It should be highlighted that accessing financial aid data (e.g. Pell eligibility) at the individual level is only possible under a restricted set of circumstances.  The IR Office generally only provides data at the aggregated level.

What counts as an “educational record”?

An educational record is any official and confidential document/record related to a student.  It can be in any form of media (paper or electronic).  It can include the following, but is not limited to: grades, transcripts, class lists, student course schedules, financial information, discipline files, information about difficulties in a class or at school if in a record, social security number, and anything with a student ID number.  The following are NOT educational records: personal notes (e.g. faculty member’s private notes), law enforcement or campus security records, health records, or employment and payroll information.

Who counts as a “school official”?

A person employed by the school in an administrative, supervisory, academic, research, support staff position, person serving on the Board of Regents, a student serving on an official committee (such as a grievance or disciplinary committee), or a volunteer or outside contractor under certain circumstances.

What counts as a “legitimate educational interest”?

A legitimate educational interest is defined as the need to review an education record in order to fulfill the school official’s professional responsibilities for the school.

My data request is covered by FERPA’s standards. Can I have access to individual level data?

If the IR Office agrees that the data request for individual level data is considered appropriate given FERPA regulations, it is usually necessary for the data requestor to provide student identifiers (e.g. Banner ID numbers) to facilitate the IR office accessing individual level data.  Failure to provide an identifier increases the complexity of the data request, imposes a significant resource burden on the IR office to access and clean the data, and lengthens the turnaround to respond to a data request.

What is the Institutional Review Board?

The Institutional Review Board (IRB) is the body at the University of Portland that is charged with review and oversight of research and classroom projects involving human subjects carried out by members of the University community.

The principal function of the IRB is to safeguard the rights and welfare of participants in research activities originating in the University. The IRB exercises oversight and review of research initiated by faculty, staff members, and students in connection with their respective academic pursuits.

More information is available at the IRB website.