National VET Data Frequently Asked Questions

If you do not find the answer to your question here, further questions may be directed to the Skilling Australia information line on 13 38 73 or via email at VET-DataPolicy@education.gov.au.

On this page

Why was a review undertaken of the VET Provider Collection Data Requirements Policy?

Following the introduction of the collection of Total VET Activity in 2014, and the Unique Student Identifier scheme in 2015, it was timely to review whether the VET Provider Collection Data Requirements Policy was working as intended and if any changes should be made. Supporting students to make better decisions and simplifying regulation for RTOs were also important considerations. Ministers were also

The new National VET Data Policy agreed at the COAG Industry and Skills Council meeting on Friday 24 November 2017 demonstrates the commitment of Skills Ministers to the continuation of significant reform of the VET system. The new Policy sets the framework for other data reforms that will be progressed through the Performance Information for VET (PIVET) initiative, which will transform the data available to consumers, governments and regulators over the next three years

What consultations were undertaken as part of the review?

The new Policy is the result of a sector-wide public consultation process. Consultations commenced in 2016 and included training providers, industry and those Australians engaged in training and skills development. Public submissions were received, stakeholder interviews conducted and surveys conducted of data providers and data users. The report on the consultations is available here, and copies of submissions can be found here.

Further targeted consultations on specific issues were undertaken in 2017. All the consultations have informed a new National VET Data Policy, which closes information gaps by reducing some reporting exemptions, and consolidates VET data collection and use of VET information into a single reference document. This new Policy sets the framework for other data reforms that will be progressed through the Performance Information for VET (PIVET) initiative, which will transform the data available to consumers, governments and regulators.  

What feedback was received during the consultation process of the review?

Feedback indicated the National VET Provider Collection Data Requirements Policy was generally achieving its objectives, and that data being collected is useful in informing VET policy, planning and funding.

However, it also indicated that updates to policy could help to further improve transparency of Australia’s VET market, and to assist users better understand their responsibilities for collecting, reporting, using and accessing VET data. In particular:

  • data collection and data use information be consolidated into a single reference document for RTOs and stakeholders
  • gaps in the national data-set be reduced by limiting RTO reporting exemptions and
  • guidance be updated on disclosing and using identifiable VET data. 

Changes included in the revised National Data Policy

What changes have been included in the revised National VET Data Policy?

Key changes include: 

  • consolidation of information on the requirements for national VET data collections in one document, and consequentially changing the name of the policy to the National VET Data Policy
  • a reduction of some reporting exemptions for community service organisations and RTOs delivering short courses, but exemptions on the basis of national security are largely retained
  • specification of mandatory content for inclusion in a ‘Privacy Notice and Student Declaration’ for students, and a ‘VET Data Use Statement and RTO Declaration and Understanding’ for RTOs
  • details on the publication of identifiable RTO level information
  • arrangements for disclosure of identifiable data about VET students, including identifiable data containing Unique Student Identifier and
  • more details on the operation of the VET Data Access Committee.

What does the National VET Data Policy cover?

  • The new National VET Data Policy sets the framework for other data reforms that will be progressed through the Performance Information for VET (PIVET) initiative. The National VET Data Policy includes four parts:
  • Part A Introduction – outlines why VET Data is collected
  • Part B National VET Provider Collection Data Requirements Policy – outlines obligations on all Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) to collect and submit comprehensive data on their delivery of Nationally Recognised Training
  • Part C VET Data Access and Disclosure – outlines arrangements for disclosing and using the VET Data held by the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER)
  • Part D Administration – deals with administration and definitional content including the Glossary of Terms.

When does the new National VET Data Policy take effect?

The National VET Data Policy (the Policy) takes effect on 1 January 2018 with a six-month transition period until 1 July 2018. The transition period will allow VET stakeholders time to prepare for and adjust their practices and for RTOs seeking to claim exemptions under the Policy to consult with their VET regulator.

Where can I find a copy of the National VET Data Policy?

The National VET Data Policy can be found on the Commonwealth Department of Education and Training’s website.

When was the National VET Data Policy agreed?

The National VET Data Policy was agreed by Commonwealth, State and Territory Ministers responsible for Skills and Training on 24 November 2017. 

What is VET Activity Data?

VET Activity Data includes RTO, student and training activity data collected and held in the:

  • National VET Provider Collection
  • National VET in Schools Collection
  • National Apprentice and Trainee Collection and
  • aggregate competency commencement and completion data.

Confidentialised data about VET students and RTO activity may be published.

Files containing identifiable student data must be used in accordance with the Privacy Act 1988, including the Australian Privacy Principles.

Files containing identifiable RTO activity data may be published as outlined in section 11 of the National VET Data Policy, which specifies that identified RTO unit record data may be published in order to support consumer information and transparency of the national VET market, as well as support research, analysis and policy development.

What is VET Outcome Data?

VET outcome data means data collected and held by National Centre for Vocational Education Research from the following:

  • Student Outcomes Surveys
  • Surveys of Employer Use and Views (of the VET System)
  • Apprentice and Trainee Destinations Surveys and
  • Identified RTO level completions data.

Consideration of RTO outcome data for publication will occur in 2018. This will provide clarity on what information is published by governments (and their agents).

What information about my RTO will be published?

A range of consumer information may be published by governments (and their agents) on websites like myskills.gov.au (which enables students and employers to search for, and compare, VET programs and RTOs). Publication of identified RTO activity information is authorised by section 11 of the National VET Data Policy.

Publication of identified RTO level data supports transparency of the national VET system and consumer information for businesses and potential students. Transparency improves training system integrity by providing public visibility of the activity and outcomes of RTOs.

Are files containing Unique Student Identifiers personal information?

Files containing Unique Student Identifiers (USIs) and characteristics associated with each USI are identifiable data containing personal information and are subject to the Privacy Act 1988, including the Australian Privacy Principles. The Student Identifiers Act 2014 also requires that entities required to keep a record of a USI must take reasonable steps to protect the record from misuse, interference, loss and from unauthorised access, modification or disclosure.

Why do students have to sign or electronically acknowledge a Privacy Notice and Student Declaration.

Under the Privacy Act 1988, individuals must be informed about how their personal information collected by or on behalf of governments may be used.

RTOs collecting information from students must ensure that each student is aware of how their personal information may be used or disclosed, and retain evidence that the student has signed or electronically acknowledged the mandatory information contained in the Privacy Notice and Student Declaration. Details are contained in section 7 of the National VET Data Policy.

Why do RTOs have to sign or electronically acknowledge a VET Data Use Statement and RTO Declaration and Understanding? 

Entities receiving VET Data from RTOs in accordance with the National VET Data Policy must ensure that RTOs are aware of the purposes for which the information they submit may be used, and retain evidence that each RTO has signed or electronically acknowledged the mandatory information contained in the VET Data Use Statement and RTO Declaration and Understanding. Details are contained in section 7 of the National VET Data Policy.

The VET Data Use Statement advises RTOs that data provided by the RTO may be used:

  • to populate authenticated VET transcripts via the Unique Student Identifier scheme;
  • accessed, published and disseminated according to the National VET Data Policy and
  • to identify RTO level information that supports consumer information, transparency and understanding of the national VET market being published in reports, tables and a range of other data products, including data cubes and websites. 

Exemptions

Why have most reporting exemptions been removed or reduced?

Changes to reporting exemptions are based on stakeholder feedback received during the Review. The changes seek to balance the value of the data against the administrative effort required to collect it.

Reducing reporting exemptions provides the following benefits.

  • all students should be able to have all their training achievements recorded on their authenticated VET transcript via their Unique Student Identifier, irrespective of the length of the course. 
  • closes information gaps on short courses as well as longer courses, improves the transparency of training delivery, which supports confidence in the VET sector and makes more information available to training consumers, industry, RTOs, regulators and governments and
  • comprehensive information on students in order to understand how different types of vocational training are used by different segments of the population, and this supports demographic analysis for workforce planning, policy development and consideration of potential market interventions.

Are there changes to the national security, border protection and policing exemption?

This exemption can still be claimed for RTOs delivering training where the collection and reporting of student information could jeopardise personal or national security but has been clarified in scope. If these RTOs are also delivering nationally recognised training where security is not threatened, data compliant with the Australian Vocational Education and Training Management Information Statistical Standard (AVETMISS) must be collected and submitted for this training activity. Details are contained in section 5 of the National VET Data Policy.

This supports transparency and more effective regulation, and enables more students to have their skills and competencies recorded on their authenticated VET transcript, via their Unique Student Identifier (USI). 

Are there changes to the emergency and safety community services exemption?

This exemption can still be claimed for nationally recognised training delivered without fees by RTOs registered as a charity with the Australian Charities and Not-For-Profits Commission. However, if any students provide their Unique Student Identifier (USI), RTOs are obliged to report data compliant with the Australian Vocational Education and Training Management Information Statistical Standard (AVETMISS) for training activity associated with those students. Details are contained in section 5 of the National VET Data Policy.

Continuing this exemption for charitable community service organisations balances the cost of compliance against the value of the data for transparency and analysis. Reporting data for students that provide their USI supports an objective of the USI scheme to enable students to obtain a comprehensive record of their training. 

This not only supports more students having all their skills/competencies recorded on their authenticated VET transcript, but in due course, will enable electronic validation of training achievements by licensing authorities, regulators, employers or anyone else that USI holders provide access to.

Are there changes to the reduced reporting arrangements for Enterprise RTOs?

Enterprise RTOs are now required to report full Australian Vocational Education and Training Management Information Statistical Standard (AVETMISS) data on all their students, not just those who commenced after 1 January 2014. This closes a data gap and will assist in standardising reporting arrangements, as well as providing a more complete picture of how the national VET market operates.

Comprehensive information is particularly important for understanding how different types of vocational training are used by different segments of the population, and the various ways that the skills needs of industry are being met. This supports demographic analysis for workforce planning, policy development, and consideration of potential market interventions.

Through the consultations, a number of ETROs indicated that it was not cost effective maintaining the commencement date distinction in their systems, and so welcomed the idea of a single reporting arrangement for all employees.

Are there changes to the reduced reporting arrangements for short stand-alone courses?

RTOs are now required to report full Australian Vocational Education and Training Management Information Statistical Standard (AVETMISS) data on all their students. This closes a data gap and will assist in standardising reporting arrangements, as well as providing a more complete picture of how the national VET market operates.

This includes the nine demographic fields for students on short courses. In 2016, only 105 RTOs did not report 5 or more demographic fields for 90 percent or more of their student cohort on single day courses.

Comprehensive information is particularly important for understanding how different types of vocational training are used by different segments of the population, and the various ways that the skills needs of industry are being met. This supports demographic analysis for workforce planning, policy development, and consideration of potential market interventions.

Are there changes to the reporting of USIs for training delivered in a single day?

The temporary exemption allowing RTOs to issue a VET qualification or statement of attainment to a student who has not provided their USI lapses on 31 December 2017, as scheduled. The six-month transition period does not apply to this exemption.

Collecting and submitting USIs for all nationally recognised training provides consistency across all types of training and all RTOs. In due course it will also enable electronic validation of training achievements by licensing authorities, regulators, employers or anyone else USI holders provide access to.

Inclusion of USIs for all students in all VET Data submissions also helps build a longitudinal data-set on VET activity. This will improve understanding of training pathways, how different types of training are used by individuals and businesses, and the various ways that the skill needs of industry are being met. 

I think my RTO is eligible for an exemption. What am I required to do?

RTOs must consult with their VET Regulator for an exemption from submitting data compliant with the Australian Vocational Education and Training Management Information Statistical Standard (AVETMISS) for the National VET Provider Collection. RTOs will need to provide evidence to support their claim for an exemption, against the programs in their Scope of Registration. Details are contained in section 5 of the National VET Data Policy.

Transitional arrangements

Does the six-month transition period mean I only have to collect and report data for my RTO from 1 July to 31 December 2018?

No. RTOs are required to collect and submit data on all nationally recognised training delivered in the full year. The six-month transition period is simply to allow organisations time to adjust processes or systems, if they need to.

My RTO had an exemption under the previous policy. What do I need to do to renew my exemption under the new National VET Data Policy?

RTOs must consult their VET regulator for an exemption from submitting data compliant with the Australian Vocational Education and Training Management Information Statistical Standard (AVETMISS) for the National VET Provider Collection. RTOs will need to provide evidence to support their claim for an exemption, against the programs in their Scope of Registration. Details are contained in section 5 of the National VET Data Policy.

An exemption does not apply until the relevant VET regulator has advised the RTO in writing that the exemption is granted for a defined delivery scope. The VET regulator will advise National Centre for Vocational Education Research of the RTO and scope of exemption that has been granted. VET regulators may place conditions on or limit the extent of an RTO’s exemption.

If an RTO had an approved ‘national security’ or ‘vital community services’ exemption prior to 1 January 2018, that exemption will continue to apply until 30 June 2018. From 1 July 2018, only exemptions under Part B of the National VET Data Policy will operate.

My RTO is no longer eligible for a reporting an exemption under the new National VET Data Policy. What do I need to do from 1 January 2018?

From 1 January 2018 RTOs must collect Unique Student Identifiers (USI) and full demographic information from all their students, and obtain and retain evidence that each student has signed or electronically acknowledged the mandatory Privacy Notice and Student Declaration, to ensure that students are aware of how their personal information may be used or disclosed.

RTOs must submit data on all the nationally recognised training they have delivered in the previous year by the end of February. Submission arrangements vary depending on the funding source and the state of delivery. Submission details are contained in section 4 of the National VET Data Policy.

My RTO has not previously reported VET training data but must do so under the new National VET Data Policy. How do we do this?

A number of Student Management Systems (SMS) support the collection and submission of training activity data compliant with the Australian VET Management Information Statistical Standard (AVETMISS), as required by the National VET Data Policy. A list of SMS providers is on the AVETMISS Compliant Software Register maintained by the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER), and can be found here. A Unique Student Identifier (USI) Compatible SMS Register with AVETMISS Compliant Release Version identifiers can be found on the USI website.

NCVER also provides a Data Entry Tool (DET), a free web–based software tool that allows smaller RTOs to produce AVETMISS compliant files for submission to NCVER. Information on the DET can be found here.

How long does an RTO have to update its enrolment information to include the new Privacy Notice and Student Declaration?

An RTO that previously had a reporting exemption should endeavour to establish new processes by 1 January 2018, but no later than 1 July 2018. From 1 July 2018, only exemptions granted under Part B the National VET Data Policy will operate.

If a student has enrolled in a course prior to 1 January 2018, do they need to sign a new Privacy Notice and Student Declaration?

Yes. Under the Privacy Act 1988, individuals must be informed about how their personal information collected by or on behalf of governments may be used. RTOs collecting information from students must ensure that each student is aware of how their personal information may be used or disclosed, and retain evidence that the student has signed or electronically acknowledged the mandatory information contained in the Privacy Notice and Student Declaration.

All students participating in nationally recognised training after 1 January 2018 should be asked to provide their personal information contained in the standard enrolment form available here.

What if a student does not complete all the fields in the standard enrolment form? 

An RTO must make every effort to collect data compliant with Australian Vocational Education and Training Management Information Statistical Standard (AVETMISS) for the National VET Provider Collection from all students. In the event that a student does not provide all of the information requested in all the fields in the standard enrolment form, RTOs must report the responses that are provided by students.

Can my RTO issue a statement of attainment or qualification to a student who does not provide their Unique Student Identifier after 1 January 2018?

No. The temporary exemption allowing RTOs to issue a VET qualification or statement of attainment to a student completing a single day course who has not provided their Unique Student Identifier (USI) lapses on 31 December 2017, as scheduled.

This temporary exemption was intended to allow RTOs time to establish processes to support students to obtain their USI and then collect and verify USIs where enrolment, course delivery, assessment and issuing of qualifications occur on the same day. Most RTOs now have these processes in place, with 2016 Total VET Activity data showing that the USI reporting rate was over 84 per cent for same day courses, which is only slightly less than for longer courses.

If my student is a continuing student and I do not have a USI for them, what do I do?

All data submissions by an RTO must be made in respect of all students who have undertaken Nationally Recognised Training, regardless of the current status of the student. To be compliant with AVETMISS, data for the National VET Provider Collection must be accurate and complete. This means that you will have to obtain a USI number from all students and include them in all data submissions.