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5 More Questions everyone asks about an SMS

July 25, 2019

Searching for a new SMS or thinking of switching? Most people know what they want - a comprehensive system that will take the pain out of compliance and simply make running a training business a lot easier! 

Previously we looked at 5 questions everyone asks about an SMS, like what’s the difference between an LMS and SMS, whether an SMS integrates with other software and how RTOs can choose the right SMS for their business. Here are 5 more questions to help clear the air.

1. Will an SMS take care of AVETMISS compliance?

This is a tough one. While an SMS will provide the tools to ensure your RTO remains compliant, it is still the onus of responsibility of the RTO to ensure it fulfills ASQA requirements. So even if you have a fantastic student management system, it is not fool-proof and non-compliance may result if the RTO falls short in delivering quality training and assessments, is financially unviable or fails to collect and report data to ASQA.

Australia’s strict compliance environment can be an RTO headache—but it doesn’t have to be. An SMS will provide you with the tools needed to make sure that AVETMISS data is both stored securely and reported correctly. The SMS will provide the relevant fields to accurately capture and store AVETMISS compliant student data as well as generate AVETMISS data reports ready to submit to government. 

Top tip: look for an SMS that integrates with NCVER API. This will provide you with more in depth error reporting. Rather than having to download data, upload it NCVER, validate the data and then action errors, an NCVER API integration will enable users to see all AVETMISS errors in a report and fix them prior to submitting to NCVER or relevant reporting body.

2. Do I need a separate SMS specifically for CRICOS and ELICOS?

No. You do not need a separate SMS to offer CRICOS and ELICOS courses but you will need an SMS that has full functionality to support both local and international students. Not all things are made equal and not all SMS systems have the same capabilities. A comprehensive system will certainly facilitate compliance and reporting with tools to manage CRICOS and ELICOS.

The regulations for overseas students are very stringent so it’s important to be informed and up to date on reporting requirements. The ESOS (Education Services for Overseas Students) legislative framework governs the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS) and English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students (ELICOS).

If a CRICOS RTO fails to notify students of their attendance and progression rate, the student is at risk of deportation! All CRICOS providers must submit information about their overseas students to the Australian Government electronically through PRISMS - the Provider Registration and International Student Management System. A good SMS will help you do this by providing reporting templates, PRISM reports and automating emails to students.

3. Will I lose data if I switch to a different SMS?

No. Whenever an RTO decides to change their SMS, the current SMS must release all their data. Most SMS providers will charge a fee to export all your data, aka ‘data dump’, but some do it at no additional cost. 

The process of transferring all your data from one SMS to another is called data migration. The old SMS provider will perform a final data ‘export’ and provide your data generally within a spreadsheet format, however the exact format of data export will vary between providers. Your data can then be ‘imported’ by your new SMS provider so that it fits within the framework of the new SMS. 

Each SMS provider has different requirements as to how the data is formatted in order for it to be imported and will work with you to format the files. The data migration process may take several hours or even days depending on the amount of data involved (i.e number of students, enrolments and years of data).

Top Tip: All RTOs must hold student data for a minimum of 30 years

4. Are all SMS providers registered with NCVER?

NCVER provides an AVETMISS Compliant Software Register to help RTOs choose an SMS that is AVETMISS compliant. An SMS vendor can only register the software if the system produces files in the correct format according to AVETMISS compliance criteria. 

But, even though a system may be registered as AVETMISS compliant with NCVER, this will not ensure that your student data is error-free. It is still the onus of responsibility of every RTO to ensure their data is correct. A good SMS will help you to do this by running AVETMISS validation reports which flag errors and enable you to correct them prior to submission.

5. Will an SMS help administer VET student loans?

VET Student Loans commenced on 1 January 2017, replacing the VET FEE-HELP scheme. Meeting the VET Student Loans requirements (VSLs) can be finicky. The process is tightly regulated and ASQA regularly conducts VET Student Loans audits of VSL providers in order to ensure good education and training outcomes for students and employers.

A comprehensive SMS can help make the process a whole lot easier. An SMS that integrates with HEIMS web services will enable your RTO to validate data for CHESSN (Commonwealth Higher Education Student Support Number) and download all government-mandated reports. An SMS should also enable you to enrol students into VET Loan-approved qualifications, generate relevant templates such as CAN Notices (Commonwealth Assistance Notice) and Statement of Fees (or Fee Notice), and automatically calculate census dates based on start and end dates.

Top Tip: Not all RTOs are approved to offer VSLs. You can find the list of approved RTOs and approved courses at MySkills. If your RTO wants to become a VET Student Loans Provider visit here.