RTO new privacy requirements

Even if your eyes glaze over when you hear the word ‘data’ you need to get your head around these new requirements. The National VET Data Policy applies to RTOs from 1 January 2018. However, we are in a ‘transitional’ phase, so that RTOs can make the necessary amendment to processes.

The  Policy is now a 24-page document available on the website of the Federal Department of Education and Training.

Student Declaration
The collection and submission of AVETMISS compliant data to government agencies is not new, and most RTOs notify their students that this data is being provided to outside agencies. This process of notification has now been formalised. The Policy requires that an RTO:

  • ensures every student signs the mandatory Privacy Notice and Student Declaration
  • retains evidence that the student is aware of the purposes for which information may be used

Schedule 1 of the Policy provides the minimum mandatory content for this declaration.  It is also on the Federal government website. Most RTOs are adding it to their enrolment forms.

It is more a ‘no privacy’ statement though, as it says your identifiable personal information will be forwarded to NCVER and that the RTO may also disclose it to a list of other assorted third parties, including ‘researchers’. Really? Researchers? Just think about that for a minute. A nefarious mind could construe that in a way that facilitates the on-selling of student data. Perhaps the second paragraph needs some re-wording. It is NCVER that is ‘using or disclosing’, not the RTO that is collecting and submitting to NCVER.

Survey contact status
The Student Declaration mentioned above lists ‘Organisations conducting student surveys’ as a third party that may be given the student’s data.

The 2018 AVETMISS changes include a new field ‘Survey contact status’. This field says that the individual student is available to be surveyed unless they are flagged by the RTO as either in prison, a minor, overseas or deceased.

These two together clear the way legally for the Regulator and/or NCVER to contact the RTO’s current and former students, which is part of the new audit model.

RTO Declaration
But wait, there’s more……

The Policy also requires that any organisation an RTO provides with student data must inform that RTO about how the data will be used. A VET Data Use Statement and RTO Declaration and Understanding is included as Schedule 2 in the Policy. Government bodies and NCVER will need to do this, so expect to see a new screen that requires you to click ‘I agree’ or similar, when you submit AVETMISS data.

It is worth noting that you are agreeing to identified RTO level information that supports consumer information, transparency and understanding of the national VET market may be published in reports, tables and a range of other data products, including data cubes and websites.

The VET sector has entered the age of Big Data. Don’t agree? Check the definition of ‘data cube’.

Clause 7.5

 The RTO provides accurate and current information as required by the Data Provision Requirements as updated from time to time.

  1. This new Policy must be brought to the attention of the CEO, if they are not already aware of it.
  2. Management must implement a way to collect all student signatures on the mandatory Privacy Notice and Student Declaration.
  3. Management must ensure the method of retention of the signed declaration is mentioned in appropriate policy.