What is a USI?
The USI initiative commenced on 1 January 2015 and is a reference number made up of ten numbers and letters that is free and easy to create and stays with you for life.
If you are a new or continuing student undertaking nationally recognised training, you will need a USI in order to receive your qualification or statement of attainment. This includes nationally recognised training delivered by secondary schools.
The USI will give you access to an online record of your nationally recognised training in the form of a USI Transcript. This can be used when applying for a job, seeking a credit transfer or demonstrating pre-requisites when undertaking further training.
Under the Student Identifiers Act 2014 and Student Identifiers (Exemptions) Instrument 2014, training organisations are not allowed to issue a qualification or statement of attainment unless the student has a USI or the student or the training is exempt from the USI initiative.
Under the Student Identifiers Act 2014, training organisations are not allowed to include a USI on qualifications or statements of attainment to protect the privacy of the USI account holder.
Under the Student Identifiers Regulation 2014, training organisations are not allowed to use the USI as a student number.
The USI initiative is also valuable for government as it enables the collection of information about students’ training activity and their movements within the VET system. This information provides an important foundation for understanding and improving VET performance and better meeting the needs of students, training organisations and employers.
Nationally recognised training
Nationally recognised training is any program of training leading to vocational qualifications and credentials that are recognised across Australia. Only Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) can deliver nationally recognised training and issue nationally recognised qualifications or statements of attainment. This includes studying at a public or private training organisation, completing an apprenticeship, certificate or diploma course. Nationally recognised training courses and RTOs are listed on training.gov.au.
training.gov.au is the official national register of VET in Australia and is the authoritative source of information on training packages, qualifications, accredited courses, units of competency, skill sets and RTOs.
Registered Training Organisations
An RTO is any organisation that is registered with a regulator to deliver nationally recognised training and qualifications.
There are currently around 5,000 RTOs in Australia and they can include:
- colleges of Technical and Further Education (TAFEs) and other government training organisations
- private/non-government training organisations
- high schools that provide nationally recognised training
- employers and other organisations that provide nationally recognised training
Training organisations can offer qualifications at the following levels:
- Certificate I, II, III and IV
- Advanced Diploma
- Vocational Graduate Certificate
- Vocational Graduate Diploma
Note: Even if you enrol with a training organisation to complete only part of a course, a module or a single unit you will still require a USI.
To find out if your training organisation is registered to provide nationally recognised training please visit training.gov.au or ask your training organisation.
Most training organisations are regulated by the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA). Training organisations in Victoria are regulated by the Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority (VRQA) and in Western Australia they are regulated by the Western Australian Training Accreditation Council (WA TAC).
VET delivered in secondary schools
VET delivered in secondary schools are training programs undertaken by school students as part of the senior secondary certificate that provide credit towards a nationally recognised VET qualification within the Australian Qualifications Framework. This training may be provided either directly by the school if they are an RTO or in the school by an RTO.
Schools providing training can assist their students by:
- raising their awareness of the USI, what it is and why they need it
- making sure students only create one USI
- guiding them through the process of creating a USI themselves during school attendance time
- providing information to guide students and parents
- advising them on the importance of keeping their USI safe as it will remain theirs for life
Business processes for training organisations delivering VET delivered in secondary schools vary widely across Australia. Training organisations and schools can incorporate the USI into their business processes in the way that works best for their organisation.
Schools that operate their own Student Management System (SMS) can also contact their SMS provider for the most effective way to incorporate USI requirements.
Schools that are not training organisations and deliver nationally recognised VET delivered in secondary schools training through external RTOs are authorised by legislation to collect, use and disclose the USI. Specifically, they can exchange USIs with training organisations, other schools or their School Authority and Board of Studies where this is in connection with the delivery or reporting of VET delivered to secondary schools activity.
In some instances, external RTOs that deliver VET delivered in secondary schools training may be unable to apply for a USI on behalf of students. In this case, schools should, in the first instance, check with their School Authority to see if they already have processes in place to implement the USI initiative, including the process for making USI applications on behalf of students.
Alternatively, schools can apply to be granted VET Admission Body (VAB) status so that they can apply directly for a USI on behalf of their students, with their students’ permission.