About the Unique Student Identifier (USI)
A Unique Student Identifier (USI) is a reference number made up of numbers and letters that gives students access to their USI account. A USI will allow an individual’s USI account to be linked to the National Vocational Education and Training (VET) Data Collection allowing an individual to see all of their training results from all providers including all completed training units and qualifications.
The USI will make it easier for students to find and collate their VET achievements into a single authenticated transcript. It will also ensure that students’ VET records are not lost. The USI will be is available online and at no cost to the student.
This USI will stay with the student for life and be recorded with any nationally recognised VET course that is completed from when the USI comes into effect on 1 January 2015.
A student needs a USI when enrolling or re-enrolling in nationally recognised training from 1 January 2015. This includes if the student is enrolling for the first time, for example, if they are studying at TAFE or with a private training organisation, completing an apprenticeship or skill set, certificate or diploma course. It also applies to students continuing or completing (re-enrolling) training, including nationally recognised training undertaken in secondary school.
The USI initiative will:
- Seamlessly link information about a student’s VET achievements, regardless of where they studied
- Enable students to easily access secure digital transcripts of their achievements
- Give students access to, and more control over, their educational information
Benefits of the USI initiative
Currently, it is not possible for students to obtain a complete record of their VET enrolments and achievements from a single online source.
This is inconvenient not only for students and employers, but can also make it more difficult for training organisations to assess pre-requisites, credit transfer and Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL). Incomplete data about access to and use of the VET sector also inhibits the development of evidence-based VET programs.
There will be significant benefits for training organisations resulting from the introduction of the USI. For example, the USI initiative will enable students to provide training providers with access to an online authenticated record of student attainment. This will assist with the recording of enrolment details and will help to streamline the assessment of course prerequisites, credit transfer and the assessment of eligibility for funding assistance.
In the longer term, training organisations will benefit from longitudinal data on course completions which will inform the development of future VET sector policy initiatives.
The USI initiative will serve as a building block for a range of VET reforms by providing accurate and comprehensive information about students’ training achievements and movements within the VET system. Students, training organisations, employers, and governments will all benefit from the USI in some way.
The USI is a component of the VET Reform Agenda and will assist the continued development of transparency in the VET sector. It will help build a consistent, national system for the storage of training information and will assist in quality assurance and future growth.
For governments, the de-identified unit record level information which will be available following the introduction of the USI, will give a much clearer picture of how many students are in the VET system and for what length of time, and the pathways students are taking through the system. The initiative will also assist governments with the management of their student entitlement programs.
With an estimated three million enrolments in the VET system each year, collecting and analysing information is essential to ensuring that the VET system can respond to students’ preferences and to the skills needs of industry and the economy. The new initiative will provide an important foundation for understanding and improving VET performance and for better meeting students’ needs.
The USI Initiative is underpinned by the:
- Student Identifiers Act 2014,
- Standards for NVR Registered Training Organisations (RTO) 2014
- Student Identifiers Regulation 2014
The design of the USI initiative reflects a number of extensive consultation processes with VET students, VET providers (large and small, public/private and enterprise), peak bodies, industry skills councils and government policy-makers at the Commonwealth and State/Territory levels. There was also a public consultation process for the legislation early in 2013.
The legislation states that a training organisation must not issue a Statement of Attainment or a Qualification unless the student has been assigned a USI. These provisions are to be mirrored in the Standards for NVR Registered Training Organisations made under the NVR Act as well as the Australian Quality Training Framework (AQTF).
The USI history
In April 2012, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) agreed to the implementation of a specially designed tool called the USI to provide students with the ability to obtain a complete record of their VET enrolments and achievements from a single source.
The USI initiative has been developed jointly by the Australian and State and Territory governments in consultation with stakeholders. It is supported through Commonwealth legislation, including the Student Identifiers Bill 2014, the Student Identifiers Act 2014, and through a national Information Communication Technology (ICT) system.