Your Student Management System Essentials

What is a Student Management System (SMS)?
And what features do I really need?

Student Management System Essentials

What is a Student Management System (SMS)?

A student management system allows you to manage every aspect of your training organisation – compliance, assessment, courses & enrolment, calendars & scheduling, finance, automation, student records, and a whole lot more. Your student management system will tame the complexities of running a training organisation by providing simple and efficient processes so you can focus on growing.

The essentials for your Student Management System

Student management is complicated, so ensuring you are using the most comprehensive and efficient system to support your training organisation is essential.  A good place to start is to identify the present requirements and concerns of your training organisation; talk to your trainers, assessors, students and administrators and compile a list of features that your organisation requires from a student management system.

At its core, your SMS needs to house rich contact data and provide effective CRM capability. Beyond this, your SMS should really encompass all ten of the following features to ensure scalability is possible. 
  • COMPLIANCE
  • COURSES
  • ASSESSMENT
  • ONLINE ENROLMENT
  • FINANCE
  1. SCHEDULING
  2. AUTOMATION
  3. TRAINER COMPETENCY
  4. RESOURCE LIBRARY
  5. WORK-BASED LEARNING
What is a student management system

What is a Student Management System (SMS)?

Today, the complexity of training is tamed with a piece of software called a student management system (SMS), which manages almost every aspect of a training business.
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How to switch to a new student management system

How to Switch to a New Student Management System

Changing your student management system is 100% achievable, you just need a solid plan in place. Here are some key considerations you need to make for the change.
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1. compliance2. coURSES3. ASSESSMENT4. ONLINE ENROLMENT5. FINANCE6. SCHEDULING7. AUTOMATION8. TRAINER COMPETENCY9. RESOURCE LIBRARY10. WORK-BASED LEARNING

1. COMPLIANCE

To remain compliant, RTOs must complete annual AVETMISS reporting to demonstrate the consistency and accuracy of their data to ASQA.

As one of the most complicated compliance tasks, an SMS should offer an intuitive reporting tool to make the process easier, including the ability to validate errors and troubleshoot them before submitting the data to NCVER. 

Ensure your student management system can:

  • Report on AVETMISS, USI, RAPT, CRICOS, and VSL data
  • Fix any compliance-related errors directly within the report
  • Generate compliant USIs
  • Manage quality register goals and tasks, linked to the Standards for RTOs 2015
  • Upload evidence of trainer competency and be notified of competency expiry
  • Capture key student documents in their application, such as passports, VISAs, or insurance
core compliance features in aXcelerate

2. COURSES

Course creation is an obvious feature of an SMS—being able to set up courses of varying lengths, from full qualifications to short courses.

Course admins need an intuitive overview of every single course and should be able to make changes to courses, or shuffle students around as needed.

Your student management system should allow you to:

  • See student progress for a course, at a glance
  • Update student info such as competency status, funding codes, and AVETMISS status
  • Set up and manage training courses that meet nationally recognised standards
  • Track learner attendance, assessment and completion of accredited units of competency
  • Give assessors access to submitted assessments, for marking
  • Create professional, branded certificates in your student management system
simplified course matrix in aXcelerate

3. ASSESSMENT

An SMS should streamline the assessment process by allowing you to easily map questions to training components, visualise mapping relationships, and make quick changes. 

As a bonus, the ability to create custom assessment plans and authoring your own assessment at the same time is highly beneficial. 

A student management system should enable you to:

  • Students can complete online assessments, with instant results
  • Map assessment tasks to units of competency against required frameworks
  • Create a range of assessment modes, such as observation checklists, online quizzes, short answer, marking criteria or RPL evidence
  • Create custom assessment plans for each course, e.g. work-based, blended learning, RPL only, etc.
  • Conduct and mark assessments, write outcomes, provide students with feedback, and apply electronic signatures to authenticate the assessment
  • Capture photo and video evidence and upload against specific assessment criteria
engaging assessment content in aXcelerate

4. ONLINE ENROLMENT

Prospective students will want to browse through courses on your website, unpack the essential information they need, and, after deciding to commit to a course, go through the end-to-end enrolment process.

An SMS should handle every aspect of enrolment, including marketing the courses on your company’s website, and building a custom enrolment form that collects the exact information your training organisation needs.

Online enrolment should be a breeze with your SMS if it can:

  • Show all qualifications and courses on your website, and manage them easily in your SMS
  • Allow students to browse courses on your website, enrol, or make enquiries
  • Configure the enrolment form to make the process as easy as possible for users
  • Create custom assessment plans for each course, e.g. work-based, blended learning, RPL only, etc.
  • Define mandatory enrolment fields, and allow document uploads such as identification, certificates, visa or passport information, and more
  • Take payment for enrolments, including direct debit payment plans
simplified online enrolment with aXcelerate

5. FINANCE

Taking and chasing payments is another time-consuming exercise for RTOs, with deposits, payment plans, custom funding arrangements, and international students complicating the process. Ultimately, your SMS should help optimise all financial processes.

The financial features of an SMS should include the generation of branded invoices, credit notes, and refunds, with options to send them to single students, or to entire classes.

Your SMS should have the following financial features:

  • Charge students for their tuition and other fees
  • Auto-send invoices when payments are due
  • Track and reconcile payments with ease
  • Generate VET Student Loan (VSL) reports
  • Generate business performance reports and sales commission reports for your finance team
  • Export financial data to Xero, MYOB, or Quickbooks
  • Create payment plans for students
link and manage your finances in aXcelerate

6. SCHEDULING

With so many courses, qualifications, units, students, trainers, and rooms to manage, an exceptional scheduling tool is essential for a student management system. 

Your SMS should also be smart enough to highlight scheduling conflicts (a date, trainer, room, or anything else) and offer alternative solutions to fix.

Ensure your student management system can:

  • Create calendar appointments for events, courses, or anything else you need
  • View upcoming events, courses, assets and more
  • Filter events by course type, location, user type, training category, room, equipment, and more
  • Notify attendees of new events with the ability to send bulk emails or SMSs
easy scheduling in aXcelerate

7. AUTOMATION

Many of an organisation’s processes are repeated, and where there’s repetition, there’s a chance to automate. An SMS should allow you to create automated workflows that handle the repetitive, labour-intensive tasks that devour your time.

This might be sending course information to students after they’ve enrolled (via email or text message), attendance warnings if they’re missing classes (including to parents), or quality improvement surveys when they’ve completed training.

Automation is key to minimising time, ensure your SMS can:

  • Send automated emails and SMSs to multiple contacts
  • Improve quality management with automated post-course surveys
  • Create schedules for recurring tasks to improve efficiency
  • Run scheduled reports and send to users such as managers, trainers, or compliance staff
  • Run a scheduled AVETMISS validation report once a week, and receive it in your inbox
workflow automation in aXcelerate

8. TRAINER COMPETENCY

Your SMS should manage trainer competencies, helping to keep your trainers fully qualified and compliant with ASQA’s standards. It should be easy to see which trainers have completed which competencies, and which competencies are close to expiry, with the system reminding the trainers to update before the expiry date arrives.

Trainers should be able to upload evidence of competency directly to the system, which admins can then review, comment on, and approve.

Easy management of trainer competency is a must, your SMS should allow you to:

  • View competency status at a glance
  • Trainers can upload competency/currency evidence against single units of competency, or entire qualifications
  • Allow admins to review competency submissions, and respond with comments, a request for more information, or approval
  • Automatically notify admins when competencies are close to expiration
easily update trainer competency in aXcelerate

9. RESOURCE LIBRARY

Training organisations have a lot of documentation to manage, from training-related materials for courses, student identification, company policies, Training and Assessment Strategies, and anything else that needs to be documented and version-controlled.

Having a place to store all of this information is essential, including the ability to categorise, track changes, set review dates, and more.

Ensure your student management system has:

  • Version-controlled document management, linked to Standards for RTOs 2015
  • Cloud-based document management, accessible from anywhere
  • Store training documents, policies, web links, or whatever else you need
  • Create document categories, to keep things tidy
  • Set review dates for documents, and have the student management system remind you before the date
manage your resources and version control in aXcelerate

10. WORK-BASED LEARNING

A student completing a WBL program needs quick mobile access to their course details, progress, attendance, and the location of where they’ll be working. They need to be able to communicate with trainers, employers, and course administrators to resolve any issues.

A modern SMS should include a feature to capture the student’s work while they’re doing it, in the form of photos, videos, and notes, all taken from a mobile phone app, and saved to the system as proof of the student’s competency. 

Easy management of trainer competency is a must, your SMS should allow you to:

  • Trainers can capture evidence of work-based learning, as the work is being completed
  • Track the status and progress of students, their courses, assessments, units and work placements
  • Easily change or cancel work placements and send notifications to all involved parties
  • Produce timely reports on work placement attendance and outcomes
work-based learning in aXcelerate

RESOURCES

If you are still trying to gather as much information as possible to help your search for the best Student Management System (SMS), we have got you covered.

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