You may have already received a hard copy letter which provided you with an update on the Unique Student Identifier (USI) for the VET sector. As promised, here is a follow up email to your nominated contact details listed on Training.gov.au.
In 2012 Commonwealth, State and Territory governments agreed to introduce a USI linked to the national VET data collection. This will provide students with access to and control over their future training records and help to streamline data exchange between students, training providers and other relevant stakeholders.
Enabling legislation is required to support the USI initiative. The previous Student Identifiers Bill 2013 lapsed when the last Parliament was dissolved but a revised Student Identifiers Bill 2014 was reintroduced by the Australian Government on 27 March 2014. For more information on the Student Identifiers Bill 2014, please visit our website.
To provide time for passage of the legislation and for sector preparations, legislative requirements in the relation to the USI are scheduled to come into full effect from 1 January 2015.
From that date, all RTOs will be required to collect and verify a USI for each student prior to issuing a qualification or statement of attainment, and to include the USI in their returns to the national VET data collection. The onus will be on the student to obtain a USI but RTOs may choose to assist students with the process.
To help RTOs, their staff and students prepare for introduction of the USI, the USI Taskforce will be providing information, answering questions, trialing and supplying supporting materials and tools progressively over the next nine months leading up to full implementation. The USI system will be available before full implementation and students and RTOs are encouraged to begin applying for and collecting USIs ahead of the formal commencement date. The USI Implementation Timeline below provides an outline of the major stages.
Third Party Testing of the USI System - Available Now
The USI IT system and processes have been designed as far as possible to cater for RTOs of different size, scope and business focus. From previous consultations, we are aware that most RTOs will seek to incorporate collection, verification and reporting of the USI into their Student Management System (SMS). One key to smooth implementation of the USI is access to early advice on IT options. The USI IT Technical Services Contract has been available on the USI website since November 2012 and a number of SMS software suppliers have planned or commenced USI integration work.
We also acknowledge that RTOs will need to integrate and test their updated systems with the USI IT system. The environment for testing RTO or vendor SMS integration with the USI system is now available and will be available on an ongoing basis.
RTO in-house developers and SMS developers, who wish to test their systems for web service authentication, connectivity and functionality with the USI System, can make arrangements now by emailing the USI Taskforce for further information at firstname.lastname@example.org
Stay Connected… Stay Informed…
In the meantime, if you have any further queries on the USI, please contact the USI Taskforce
VET Data Infrastructure Branch
Department of Industry
USI Implementation Timeline
27 March 2014
- Introduction of Student Identifiers Bill into Parliament
- Third party testing of the USI IT system now available on an ongoing basis
- USI IT Technical Services Contract is available on the USI website
From April 2014
- Interested RTOs and SMS Vendors encouraged to participate in third party testing of the USI IT system
- Development of RTO support materials
- USI Readiness Workshops and Webinars
- Awareness raising activities targeted at RTO management and staff, employers and related stakeholders
July – September 2014
- Expected passage of legislation during the Winter Sittings
- Focussed Student Messaging increased to start generating awareness of the USI for continuing students
- USI Website activated
- Supporting materials and tools to be provided to RTOs assisting with USI implementation
October – December 2014
- Official USI Core IT system launch, making it available to all RTOs and continuing students
- RTOs encouraged to start applying for USIs for continuing students (if the RTO has decided it will apply on behalf of students)
- Supporting materials and tools to be provided to RTOs and students assisting with USI implementation
1 January 2015
- Formal USI requirements commence
The Unique Student Identifier (USI) – Questions and Answers
What is a USI?
A USI is effectively an account or reference number made up of numbers and letters. The USI will allow all of an individual’s training records, entered in the national vocational education and training (VET) data collection, to be linked.
Once the USI scheme is implemented, each person undertaking Australian nationally recognised VET can obtain a USI and use it each time they enrol in a course. Students will be able to obtain their USI online, including on their mobile devices, at any time.
What do RTOs need to do?
From 1 January 2015, RTOs seeking to offer nationally recognised training will need to:
collect a USI for each enrolling student before they issue that student with a statement of attainment or qualification
verify a USI - a number of options to verify a USI supplied by students will be available, including real time or batch processing via RTOs’ Student Management Systems.
include the USI as part of their report on training activity for the national VET data collection – the current reporting template for the national VET data returns (Australian Vocational Education and Training Management Statistical Standard - AVETMISS 7.0) already includes a USI field.
What difference will the new initiative make to students and training providers?
For the first time, every student who undertakes nationally recognised VET in Australia will be able to access his or her enrolment and achievement record from a single authoritative source.
After the new initiative is implemented, students will be able to get a transcript of the accredited VET training they undertake. The transcript will include the VET training a student does from the time the USI initiative is implemented. There will be significant benefits to training providers from the introduction of the USI which will grow over time, especially around assessing students for admission to courses. RTOs will have better access to student VET records which will simplify the process of assessing pre-requisites, credit transfer and entitlement to funding for training.
In broader terms, RTOs will benefit from improved longitudinal data on course completions and other factors which will inform the development of future VET sector policy initiatives.
What help/support is available for RTOs?
Specifications to allow training providers’ Student Management Systems (SMS) to communicate automatically with the USI system are already available for SMS vendors and RTOs. A third party testing environment and support arrangements are already in place now.
Following passage of the Student Identifiers legislation, the IT systems supporting the Student Identifier scheme will be rolled out progressively in the second half of 2014. This will allow time for RTOs to test their connections and to begin collecting USIs for any continuing students.
The best options for each RTO preparing for the introduction of the USI will vary depending on their size, scope and existing business arrangements. The USI Taskforce will be working with State and Territory authorities, peak training bodies and RTOs to provide advice and help build staff and student awareness of the introduction of the USI.
The USI Taskforce will be contacting RTOs on a regular basis throughout 2014 to help them incorporate the USI in their business processes.