Better understanding student journeys

For: 

The department undertook a pilot project that sought to a) determine the feasibility of linking student-level Vocational Education and Training (VET) to Higher Education (HE) data, in order to b) characterise student flows between the two sectors.

To achieve this, the Office of the Chief Data Officer collaborated with VET Market Information Branch, Economic and Market Analysis Branch, the Office of the USI Registrar, the National Centre for Vocational Education Research and the National Education Evidence Base team.

Stage I

Stage I of the project tested the feasibility of statistically linking students with both Unique Student Identifier (USI; from the VET sector) and a Commonwealth Higher Education Student Support Number (CHESSN; from the HE sector).

Stage I of this pilot project linked students with both a Unique Student Identifier (USI; from the VET sector) and a Commonwealth Higher Education Student Support Number (CHESSN; from the HE sector) using Australian Bureau of Statistics deterministic data integration methods (current as of March 2018). We linked 1.13 million tertiary education students using linkage methodology #5 (linking using name, gender and date of birth). The linkage variables are known as the USI-CHESSN Statistical Linkage Key.

We then combined this Key with student activity information from the Higher Education Information Management System and Total Vet Activity data to create an analytical dataset, called the Cross-Sectoral population. After data cleaning, the Cross-Sectoral population contained detailed characteristics of 344,676 students that studied in both the HE and VET sectors.

We then used the statistical linkage key with the highest linkage quality to create an experimental, de-identified dataset that holds the demographic, institution and course level data for students that participated in both the HE and VET sectors over the period. The infographics below summarise the key findings.

For further information on the project please contact DAB@education.gov.au.

Of the 1,133,167 matches by name, gender and DOB between 3,300,685 HE and 921,126 VET unique students, 344,676 (30 per cent) were found to have valid enrolment/completion data.

Based on this data we estimated an annual flow rate of 14-16 per cent and 0.4-1.3 per cent of students (based on original sector enrolment) moving from HE→VET and VET→HE, respectively. The VET→HE rate is most likely an underestimate given that historical USI and Total VET Activity data is unavailable prior to 2015.

There were minimal demographic differences between Cross-Sectoral students and single sector students other than that the Cross-Sector students were on average five years older and were more likely to have an internal mode of attendance

The majority of students had enrolled in a Bachelor degree in HE (83 per cent). These students were most likely to have completed the degree (63%), followed by 'dropped out' (26%) and 'still enrolled' (12%). HE→VET students were more likely to have never completed their HE studies prior to enrolling in VET.

Of the total HE→VET student population, most subsequently enrolled in applied non-AQF qualification VET courses (60 per cent) followed by Certificate III (19 per cent) and Certificate IV (8 per cent). For those students that went on to study AQF-level courses, Management and Commerce and Society and Culture courses were the most popular. For those students that went on to study non AQF-level courses, the majority did Health first aid or occupational health and safety courses. 

The majority of students (~80 per cent) did not change state/territory or regional area between engagements with the sectors, although younger HE students were up to five times more likely to move interstate or between regions of Australia to study VET. Remote HE students tended to move into regional and metropolitan Australia to study VET.

VET students are coming from a range of AQF and non-AQF level qualifications, before transitioning to HE (non-AQF the highest share at 27 per cent). Students were more likely to have completed their VET study before enrolling in HE. The majority subsequently enrolled in a Bachelor degree (84 per cent).

There was no major trend in Bachelor enrolments by field of education although Society and Culture was the most popular at 25 per cent. The majority of students did not change state/territory or regional area between engagements with the sectors. Remote VET students tended to move into regional and metropolitan Australia to study HE.