The Unique Student Identifier (USI) initiative is a major development for students in vocational education and training. The new USI will enable students to get a comprehensive and authoritative transcript of their vocational education achievements, online.
What is a USI?
A Unique Student Identifier is a randomly generated code that will be allocated to and stay with a VET student for life. The USI will be recorded with any nationally recognised VET course the student does from 2014 onwards.
The USI initiative promises to:
- • Link together information about a student’s vocational education achievements, regardless of where they study.
- • Give students more access and control over information regarding their VET achievements.
- • Allow students access to secure digital transcripts of their vocational qualifications & results.
Why do we need USI?
You’ve probably had to supply evidence of your education and achievements when trying to get a job or undertake further study. At the moment, there is no single authoritative source from which you can a complete record of all your vocational training achievements. This makes life more difficult for everyone – training organisations, employers, and, of course, you.
The implementation of a USI, supported by a national information communication technology (ICT) system, will make it easier for you to find, collect and authenticate all your VET accreditations and certifications in a single transcript. It also means that your training records won’t be lost if the organisation you trained with ceases operating – a real problem if you misplace evidence of your certification!
It will make it easier for you to study with a new institution or transfer to a new TAFE or training organisation. It will be much simpler to provide evidence of pre-requisites, transfer credit or apply for Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL).
What privacy and security features will it have?
Obviously a lot of the information associated with the USI is very sensitive so there needs to be systems set up to ensure privacy, security and make sure you have control over your own USI.
Key features include:
- • Education and training records will be stored separately to personal information such as name and date of birth (these will be held in quarantine).
- • USI and personal information will be held by the Student Identifiers Agency (a new organisation that will be established for this purpose).
- • The USI will also be attached to your training records, which will be held by the National Centre for Vocational Education and Research (NCVER).
The USI system is designed so that the only time your personal information is linked to your education information is in a few specific situations:
- • When you ask to see your own records.
- • When you authorise someone else to see them (eg a training organisation).
- • In circumstances authorised by Commonwealth legislation.
Who is implementing the USI and why?
The Unique Student Identifier has been developed by the Australian Government in conjunction with state and territory governments (known as Council of Australian Governments or COAG) and a number of key industry stakeholders. COAG decided that the Standing Council on Tertiary Education and Skills (SCOTESE) should be the organisation to carry out the implementation of the USI.
The USI is a component of the VET Reform Agenda and is seen as one of the keys to creating a consistent national system for storing training information. It will assist governments in the management of student entitlement programs. It will also help to give a much clearer picture of the number of VET students, how long they study and what pathways they choose to follow in the vocational system. With an estimated three million enrolments in the VET system each year, this is no mean feat!
Ultimately, collecting and analysing this kind of information is essential to ensuring the vocational system can respond to the preferences of students like you, and meet the needs of industry and the Australian economy. Look forward to getting your USI in 2014!
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