The National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) collects and holds records of student enrolment and achievement in the VET sector, but these records are not mapped to an individual over the lifetime.
The inability to access enrolment and achievement data across the lifetime of individual VET students, affects the efficiency of RTOs and undermines the capacity of government policy makers to develop evidence-based programs and ensure accountability for the investments made.
Currently, students have little or no control over their VET activity data and cannot easily find, collate and authenticate all of their educational attainments. Within the VET sector, students often enrol and attend courses with multiple training providers – there are approximately 2.3 million enrolments in the VET system each year and it is estimated that some 30 per cent of students use multiple providers. When students need to create a transcript of their achievements for enrolment, to show an employer or to establish credit for recognised prior learning, they currently need to contact and request information from more than one source. This situation is exacerbated when training providers go out of business and their records are either lost or unrecoverable.
Victoria and Queensland, have already introduced unique student identifiers to assist in their own policy development and program administration. While these have improved the ability of individual states to create student records, this approach has limited value if students move and study across state and territory borders.
To solve the problems stated above, the National Unique Student Identifier (USI) objective is to: “to record all accredited education and training undertaken and qualifications achieved for each individual who access Vocational Education and Training (VET) over his or her lifetime.” A single national unique student identifier would be implemented to allow the creation of individual lifetime VET records. Each student would be given a single number on enrolment. This number would be included on enrolment and achievement records, generated by RTOs across the country and stored, as currently occurs, with NCVER. Student identifying information would be quarantined and stored separately from national data collections of activity. The USI register would be managed by an appropriate agency (the USI service), with strict controls to ensure privacy.
Students would be able to request their full VET transcripts from the USI service which would draw the data together from the NCVER data base. This would provide students with greater control of their VET activity by making it easier to find, collate and authenticate all their educational attainments in a single portable record, provide a training history beyond the life of the training provider and enable future services and innovations such as e-portfolios and qualification-verification systems.
Policy makers would be able to analyse data held in the NCVER data base on a unit record, whole of lifetime basis while, at the same time, protecting the privacy of individual students – the data would include the USI itself, but would not be able to be re-identified as education and training data would be kept separate from the students’ personal information held by the USI service.
Earlier this year the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) develop a business case for the unique student identifier (USI) for the Vocational Education and Training VET) sector, accessible here.