Frequently asked questions 

The VSN Operations team has received a number of questions about the VSN and this section aims to address these questions. Please send any comments or questions about the VSN to:


Q1. Who has a VSN?

All students enrolled in Victorian schools (government and non-government and home-schooled) or undertaking Vocational Education and Training with a TAFE, Registered Training Organisation or Adult and Community Education (ACE) provider and are under the age of 25 have been issued with a Victorian Student Number by the Victorian Student Register. VSNs were issued progressively since Term 3 2009.

Q2. How and when does the VSR get notified about a student that starts at my school?

Government schools

The first time the VSR finds out about a student at your school is when you activate students in CASES21 i.e. when you set the student’s status to ACTV. As soon as this is done (and saved), an enrolment message containing the student’s VSN information, first name, middle name, surname, date of birth, gender and enrolment date is created automatically by CASES21 and that message is sent automatically to the VSR for processing overnight.

Non-Government schools

Schools using an integrated student management system (SMS) will use that system to enrol the student in the usual manner and indicate that the student is a NEW student for the purpose of the VSN and has not been previously issued with a VSN. The SMS will automatically notify the VSR of the enrolment and process the returned VSN information from the VSR and link the VSN to the students’ record.

Q3. What happens when the VSR gets the notification about a student?

UNKNOWN –the VSR attempts to look up the student based on an exact match on first name, surname, date of birth and gender. If a match is found, the enrolment is processed and the VSN is returned to CASES21/SMS. If a match is not found an exception is generated and the VSN team must investigate this exception manually. A VSN will not be issued until the exception is resolved.

NEW – the VSR interprets this as a request for a brand new VSN and attempts to create a new VSN for the student. Prior to creating the VSN, the VSR performs a check to see if the student already exists (using exact matching of provided student information). If the VSR confirms that the student does not yet exist, it creates a new VSN and this is returned to CASES21/SMS. If an exact match is found, an exception is generated and the VSN team must investigate this exception manually. A VSN will not be issued until the exception is resolved.

VSN – the VSR validates the VSN by comparing the student details to that already recorded on the VSR. The student’s details on the VSR match exactly those details provided by your school, then the VSR processes the enrolment. If there is no exact match, an exception is generated and the VSN team must investigate this exception manually.

Q4. How do I make sure that all students have a VSN?

Any new enrolments need to be as accurate as they can be.  This means:

a) Getting the student details such as first name, surname, DOB and gender right the first time you enter them. (See Question 5 below)

b) Getting the VSN status correct for the student you are enrolling:

  • Request the VSN from parents on the enrolment form or check the student’s VSN Notification letter from their previous school and enter the VSN as part of the enrolment information.
  • Enter NEW in the VSN field for new prep students, overseas students and interstate transfers or new arrivals to Australia.
  • Enter UNKNOWN in the VSN field for students that were enrolled in a Victorian school at any time from July 2009 onwards, but do not provide you with a VSN.

Q5. I understand that I need to enter student data accurately to ensure a match in the VSR so that all my students have VSNs. How do I make sure I enter details in the same way as everybody else?

When an enrolment message is processed by the VSR, the VSR attempts to match the student details provided by you, with details already in the VSR for that student. To increase the success rate of matching, the VSR team developed data quality guidelines that need to be followed when entering data.

For entering names, the most important guidelines are:

  • Use official documentation where possible e.g. birth certificate, travel documentation, passport.
  • If student is transferring from another government school, use the name on the transfer note if available.
  • Do not add any indicators such as numbers, letters, special characters into the name fields.
  • Students that have a single name should have that name entered in the first given name AND in the surname.
  • Multiple first names or surnames should be separated by 1 space or a hyphen (without leading or trailing spaces).
  • Preferred names should be entered into the preferred name field.
  • Middle names should be entered into the second given name field.

Special tips for surnames

  • Take care with common variants Mac and Mc. Only very few names starting with Mac or Mc have a space after the Mac or Mc.
  • Take care with apostrophes in names such as O’Neill. In most cases there should not be a space between before or after the apostrophe.

For entering dates of birth, the most important guidelines are:

  • Cross-check the date of birth on the enrolment form against the date of birth on official documentation.
  • Ensure you enter the correct date, and do NOT use ‘place holder’ dates to enrol the student.

For entering gender, check the gender and cross-reference with available documentation before saving the student record in CASES21/SMS.

Test your knowledge

Which of the following first names comply with the data quality guidelines and why?

NoFirst NameSurname
1Emma – JaneSmith
3Anthony (Tony)Ng
4Taylor  DanielPeterson-Hallet
5Heidi Bella TeresaPayne


  1. False: (leading and trailing space around hyphen in first name)
  2. False: (** symbol in student’s surname)
  3. False: (Use of preferred name and parenthesis in first name)
  4. False: Double space between Taylor and Daniel
  5. True: (We assume that Bella Teresa have been correctly identified as first given names)

Q6. What happens when I update the student’s name, date of birth or gender information?

As soon as you save a change in your system, a change details message is generated and changes to student information is automatically notified to the VSR.  The VSR processes the change details message and you may be contacted by the VSN team to confirm the changes as follows:

  • If you made an update to the date of birth of a student, you will be contacted by the VSN team to provide documentary evidence via email/fax supporting the change.
  • If you make an update to the gender of a student, you will be contacted by the VSN team to confirm that you intended to make this change.
  • If you update the student’s names or enrolment date, the VSR will process the update.

Q7. Why are the different updates to student information treated differently?

The VSR uniquely identifies a student by their first name, surname, date of birth and gender. In addition, each time a student is enrolled, the VSR records the name that student uses to enrol at the school. This is in recognition of the fact that students can, and do, change their names.

However, updates to the gender or date of birth are flagged as exceptions for manual attention by VSN team members. This is done to ensure the integrity of the VSR because the VSR can only accommodate one date of birth and gender for a student. As a result, the VSN team has put in place more stringent processes in place to ensure the accuracy of that information.