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TCSI - What you need to know

May 28, 2019

What is TCSI?

The Department of Education & Training and the Department of Human Services are developing a cleaner way for education providers to collect, review and report your information. The project is called TCSI (pronounced ‘taxi’), or ‘Transforming the Collection of Student Information’.

How’s this going to be delivered?

At a broad glance, TCSI intends to utilise new technologies to ensure data collection is more streamlined and efficient. This is with an emphasis on reducing duplication and improving the quality, relevance and availability of data. TCSI also intends to relieve the reporting burden on training providers by trimming redundant information no longer required for reporting purposes. Some of the proposed changes to data collection can be viewed (at a glance) here.

How does this affect me as a VET provider?

TCSI hopes to alleviate many of the shortcomings associated with HEPCAT (the Higher Education Provider Client Assistance Tool) by replacing the system entirely. In doing so, TCSI promises easier, quicker, less-complex reporting that will provide observable benefits for both providers and students alike. Remember that TCSI was developed in direct consultation with education providers. TCSI is a mandatory change and is here to stay, but this shouldn’t result in headaches for training organisations.

What will change?

A lot! TCSI represents a complete paradigm shift to how education and training providers have reported to the government in the past. Previously, you would generate flat text files monthly or quarterly and upload them to HEPCAT. With TCSI, reporting will be done much more regularly, as you go. For example, they expect student data to be reported within 7 days of a reportable event, such as a course enrolment, for every student.

The TCSI project will provide two interaction channels to replace HEPCAT that will enable education providers to continue data submission and comply with reporting requirements. One is the Business-to-Government (B2G) API channel, where your student management system would communicate directly to the department on your behalf using their APIs. The other is a Provider Portal, where education providers would need to upload a CSV file into the portal.

Why is TCSI a necessary change?

Current data reporting methods are inefficient as they are. HEPCAT is admittedly a rigid and difficult system to both learn and manage. Troubleshooting errors can be a cumbersome process, and a singular isolated issue in data reporting can result in whole files becoming invalidated in many circumstances. The development of TCSI has been spurred on through the identification of several pain points in current reporting practice, particularly in regards to reducing debt levels and improving payment accuracy for governing bodies. TCSI seeks to improve many facets of education and training, including the improvement of Youth Allowance access and other payment processes, giving students better access to what they need and when they need it.

When is this expected to launch?

At the time of writing, the Department of Education and Training is planning to have a soft launch for the TCSI solution in production by mid-October 2019. Providers will continue to be able to use HEPCAT for all 2019 data. As per the TCSI implementation timeline, all providers must be reporting their data through TCSI by the 31st of May, 2020.

Note that there are slight differences in reporting requirements for higher education institutions and VET providers. The Department of Education and Training has an in-depth implementation timeline you can view on their website.

What should you be doing?

Be prepared! The HEIMS TCSI page contains updates and links to newsletters, webinars and workshop sessions. You can also register and subscribe to their newsletter. The Department of Education and Training will be rolling out a service hub to answer questions, support requests and other information you may need regarding TCSI. For a full and detailed list of the changes to reporting requirements, see the HEIMS website.

Your SMS provider should be aware of the changes that TCSI is bringing and already begun work on solution design and testing. At a technical level, this includes successful API calls and authentication against PRODA.

It’s a good idea to check with your SMS provider as to how the design solution can best be made to work for your business and ensure the support you need for a smooth transition to the new format well before the deadline.