Stakeholder Bulletin - May 2020

Student identity and those affected by COVID-19

With COVID-19 and self-isolation measures affecting all Australians, we want to make it as simple as possible for students and training organisations to locate or create a Unique Student Identifier (USI). At the Office of the Student Identifiers Registrar (OSIR), it is business as usual as we work remotely to ensure our services remain accessible; however, we appreciate it may not be business as usual for others and therefore supporting you is our priority.

Where a student genuinely does not have access to standard verifiable identity documents to create a USI, please contact us to discuss the available options on:

Feedback: If you have any feedback about how the OSIR can further assist students and training organisations during the COVID-19 restrictions, please contact us at BusinessStrategy@usi.gov.au.

To stay informed, please visit our website at usi.gov.au. For further departmental information on COVID-19, please refer to dese.gov.au

Royal Assent: Student Identifiers Amendment (Enhanced Student Permissions) Bill

The Student Identifiers Amendment (Enhanced Student Permissions) Bill 2019 received Royal Assent on 25 May 2020 giving effect to the following:

1. Enhanced student options when permitting third parties to view transcripts

USI account holders who have studied VET after 1 January 2015 can give permission to third parties such as a licensing bodies, employment agencies or potential employers to view their authenticated USI transcript. This means the student controls whether or not they give this access, to whom, and which of their achievements are displayed. The student can also set the period the transcript can be viewed, with the ability to remove this access at any time.

Giving students this ability and choice increases transparency in the sector, and reduces regulatory burden during employment recruitment processes and applications for funding, making it easier to verify VET qualifications.

It is important that both students and third parties understand that third parties cannot view a student’s USI transcript without firstly obtaining permission from the student.

An authenticated USI transcript contains personal information of the individual student, as defined in section 6 of the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth). This means USI transcripts must not be copied or disclosed to any other person without the consent of the individual student.

2. Civil penalties

Civil penalties have been introduced to protect the integrity of the student identifier and authenticated USI transcript and to deter fraudulent behavior. The Registrar is drafting a framework to manage compliance with the new provisions. 

For further information, refer to our student permission to view a transcript web page and the Student Identifiers Amendment (Enhanced Student Permissions) Bill 2019.

USI expansion to the higher education sector from January 2021

The Australian Government is extending the USI to the higher education sector. From January 2021, new higher education students will be required to apply for or hold a USI before census date.

By 2023, all students (including those who commenced prior to 2021), will need to have a USI. The USI will replace the Commonwealth Higher Education Student Support Number (CHESSN), which will gradually be decommissioned.

A single USI for VET and higher education will reduce the number of government identifiers from two to one, record a student's entire tertiary education journey and help inform education data, policy and programs.

In order to extend the USI to higher education, legislative amendments were made to the Student Identifiers Act 2014. The Student Identifiers Amendment (Higher Education) Bill 2019:

  • Facilitates the extension of the Unique Student Identifier (USI) to higher education students, and enable the assignment, collection, use, disclosure and verification of student identifiers for those students.
  • From 1 January 2021, new domestic and onshore overseas students studying at a higher education provider may apply for a USI.
  • From 1 January 2023, higher education providers must not confer an award on an individual unless the individual has been assigned a USI, or an exemption applies.

Current status: The Student Identifiers Amendment (Higher Education) Bill 2019 received Royal Assent on Friday, 6 March 2020, giving effect to the above.

Next steps: Stay tuned to this channel and our new higher education webpage for ongoing announcements and information in the lead-up to January 2021. If you have any queries about extending the USI to higher education, send an email to USItoHigherEd@dese.gov.au

New Indigenous student and incarcerated student identity forms

The Office of the Student Identifiers Registrar (OSIR) understands some students genuinely may not have access to standard verifiable identity documents and for this reason, we have developed two new evidence of identity forms for the following student cohorts:

  • Indigenous students: Some indigenous students may not have had their birth registered with a Register of Births, Deaths and Marriages. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples Evidence of Identity Form allows students to provide all necessary information, in lieu of standard verifiable identification, for training organisations to create a USI on their behalf.
  • Incarcerated students: Students who are currently sentenced or on remand within a correctional facility may not have access to standard verifiable identification documents. With consent from the student, training organisations may create a USI on behalf of an incarcerated student using the Incarcerated Students Evidence of Identity Form. The form also allows the student to authorise a correction/education officer to act on their behalf when engaging with the OSIR to verify, amend and/or create a unique student identifier. 

These identify forms are now available to download via our new forms webpage.

Improved student identity and DVS troubleshooting web content

Following consultation with a range of training organisation stakeholders, the Office of the Student Identifiers Registrar (OSIR) are pleased to announce the following updates to our website.

The Find a student USI page has been updated to include the following content:

  • Conducting thorough searches
  • More than one USI has been located
  • Incarcerated students
  • DVS troubleshooting

The DVS, Override function and student ID troubleshooting fact sheet includes the following content:

  • DVS troubleshooting hints and tips
  • Data matching
  • System time out
  • Student identification hints and tips (birth certificates, passports, international passports & visas, Medicare card, drivers licence)

OSIR would like to thank all stakeholders who contributed to these updates – your insight was invaluable.

If you have any feedback about the new web content, please contact us via our BusinessStrategy@usi.gov.au mailbox or complete our online feedback form.

Improved System Access Request Form

We recently combined our previous ‘System Access Request’ and ‘DVS Override function’ forms to create one, master System Access Request Form which is used by RTOs to request/apply for the following:

  • Set up initial access to the USI Registry System
  • Update training organisations details
  • Apply for Web services to support a Student Management System
  • Apply for Document Verification Service (DVS) override function*
  • Make changes or updates to any of the above

*NOTE: The DVS Override function can be used when a student genuinely does not have access to standard verifiable identification documents and do not fall into the category of Incarcerated students or Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander Peoples. In order for an RTO to perform a DVS Override for an individual student, they must first apply to the Office of the Student Identifiers Registrar (OSIR) for the function using the System Access Request Form.

The revised System Access Request Form is now available to download via our new forms webpage.

Parents and guardians of students under the age of 15

If you are a parent or guardian are seeking to make enquiries for a child under the age of 15, please contact Office of the Student Identifiers Registrar (OSIR) direct on 1300 857 536. You will be asked to provide proof of identity for the child under the age of 15. Once proof of identity is confirmed, we will be able to discuss/action the following with you:

  • look up and verify details of the young person’s USI account
  • update personal and contact information of the young person
  • review and discuss details of the student’s USI Transcript
  • action a Help Request

For further information, please see our third party authorisation/representation page.

New Third Party Authorisation Form provides flexibility for students

Students can choose another person or organisation to be their representative to communicate with the Office of the Student Identifiers Registrar (OSIR) on their behalf to make enquiries or update personal details on their USI account. We call this ‘third party authorisation’. There are two ways for a student to arrange third party authorisation:

  1. Phone us with the representative, complete the usual proof of identity check questions, and verbally authorise OSIR to speak to their representative during that phone call. This is considered ‘one-off’ authorisation and is only valid during that phone call.
  2. Complete a Third Party Authorisation Form where they can choose for the person or organisation named on the form to be their representative for a specific period (e.g. several months) or ongoing until they provide further notice (e.g. a new form modifying the authority or a Cancellation of Third Party Form).

For further information, please see our third party authorisation/representation webpage. The Third Party Authorisation/Cancellation forms are also now available to download via our new forms webpage.

Publication Date
Last Modified on Thursday 18th February 2021 [37]