The Victorian Government has legislated and implemented a Victorian Student Number (VSN) for students in Victoria.
The VSN is a student identification number that has been assigned by the Department of Education and Training (DET) to all students in government and non-government schools, and to students below the age of 25 undertaking Vocational Education and Training with a TAFE, Registered Training Organisation or Adult and Community Education (ACE) provider (referred to collectively as VET Providers). The VSN, which is unique to each student, will be used as a key identifier on a student’s records, and will remain with the student throughout his or her education, until reaching the age of 25. The VSN is nine digits long, randomly assigned, and tied to identifying information about the student (name, gender, date of birth).
The VSN provides the capacity to gather:
- Accurate knowledge of student movement and retention rates
- Patterns of student premature departure.
This information plays an important role in planning future investment in education and training.
The VSN has the potential to provide accurate information on a student’s movement through the educational system, for example as they move from school to school, transition to and between VET providers, or when they leave school and resume their education in the post compulsory years.
This will provide more accurate, longer term, and individualised destination data, allowing the education system to provide timely intervention and support to students.
The VSN covers students from Prep and below up to the age of 25. A VSN will be allocated to each student enrolled within Victoria’s school sector and students enrolled in qualifying training at a VET Provider. Once allocated, students will require their VSN to enrol at any subsequent school or VET Provider.
The school sector includes Government, Catholic and Independent primary, secondary and special schools as well as Home Schooled students. VET Providers include TAFE’s and Registered Training Organisation (RTO’s) and Adult and Community Education providers.
Qualifying training at VET Providers includes all government funded training (accredited and non-accredited) and all fee for service accredited training.
The VSN is not applicable to enrolments in Victorian universities.
The Victorian Student Register (VSR) system provides interfaces that enable student administration systems to automatically send and receive data to and from the VSR. For schools that do not use student administration systems, a manual web interface is available. For VET Providers that do not use a commercial student administration system, a manual approach is made available.
The VSR is managed and operated by the VCAA (Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority) on behalf of the Department of Education and Training (DET).
Under the associated legislation (Education and Training Reform Act 2006), education providers are required to notify the VSR of all student movements and changes to student identifying details. To achieve this, the VSR system provides an automated interface that enables student administration systems to automatically send and receive data from the VSR. For providers that do not use a student administration system that integrates with the VSR, there are options to enter data manually or send through a file containing the relevant data.
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Protecting student privacy
Strict privacy protocols are applied to the collection of data used to generate a VSN. All VSNs and associated information held within the VSR is subject to strict protocols covering access to and use of information.
Consultation with the Victorian Privacy Commissioner was undertaken during the early development stages of this initiative. Further consultation has taken place during the formal privacy impact assessment, and during the drafting of the legislation.
Access to the data in the VSR system is strictly limited, and the database itself is maintained in a fully secure environment. Commonwealth and State Privacy Principles have been used to guide the design of the VSR system.
The information will be used only for educational purposes and the ways in which data can be used is prescribed by legislation. The VSN is restricted to use in the Victorian education and training system sector only, and legislation prohibits its use, as an identifier, outside the sector. The legislation also includes criminal offences for use of the data for other than the prescribed purpose.
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Privacy guidelines for education providers
In general, the legislation prescribes the purposes for which the VSN may be used, and places some restrictions on access to and disclosure of VSNs and related student information (e.g. student name, date of birth).
In general, disclosure of a student’s name and the associated VSN should be restricted to that student and that student’s parents or guardians, within the boundaries of normal student information disclosure. For example, if there is a court order in place that disallows one or more parents, or other interested parties, access to a student’s records, then similar restrictions must be applied to the student’s VSN.
Disclosure of a student’s name and associated VSN to parties other than the student or parent should be avoided. For example, including the VSN on student identity cards is not permitted. Similarly, if lists of students, including class rolls, are produced for any purpose other than verifying VSN data with the VSN Operations Team, then the students’ VSNs should not be included.
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