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Attendance Monitoring! Why most people get it wrong.

RTO, VET, ELICOS, ESOS Act, CRICOS, Compliance, Attendance, Course Progress, CoE, Study Period, Monitoring

Are you a CRICOS provider who struggles to understand your attendance monitoring requirements? Are you unsure if you need to manage both Attendance Monitoring and the DEEWR-DIAC’s course progress? And if you know you don’t have to manage both do you still manage both? I’m sure you would say “why do both, I’ve already got more than enough compliance requirements to manage thank you very much”.

Over the last few years of consulting to both VET & ELICOS providers it has come to our attention that many are not monitoring attendance properly. We were able to see a pattern in why people are getting it wrong.

A few things we found were:

What period of time should attendance be monitored over?

The ESOS Act states that “where there are structured study periods (for example a term or a semester), it is recommended that providers monitor attendance over the length of each study period for a course.

Where there are no structured periods of study, attendance is recorded and calculated over the period of the course. However, if the length of the CoE is more than six months, attendance should be monitored over six month periods.”

Most VET RTOs have structured terms, semesters or study periods so they typically don’t get confused with this point. However ELICOS providers we have found that even though they have always had to monitor attendance many we have seen are having problems with this. Most enrolments for an ELICOS course, once, were generally less than the 6 month period. In the last few years however many enrolments are now going over the 6 month period and this is the problem and where ELICOS providers are not monitoring in 2 different periods.

Even if an enrolment was for 28 weeks it still has to be considered as 2 different study periods and the attendance monitored separately.

Monitoring sessions absent

Another area we found is that provider’s maybe monitoring the attendance percentage of the student but they in turn are not monitoring the number of ‘consecutive days absent’.

Why is this important? The ESOS Act also states that “11.4 For the courses identified in 11.1, the registered provider’s attendance policies and procedures must identify the process for contacting and counselling students who have been absent for more than five consecutive days without approval or where the student is at risk of not attending for at least 80 per cent of the scheduled course contact hours for the course in which he or she is enrolled (before the student’s attendance drops below 80 per cent).”

The issue is that it isn’t just about ‘5 consecutive days absent’ it really is about your ‘sessions’ because if you run multiple sessions over 1 day and their total hours add up to the 20hours etc per week in less than 5 days, then a student maybe absent for less consecutive days than 5 and need to be contacted etc.

Multiple CoE’s and monitoring attendance

This is a question we get asked regularly. Attendance must be monitored over the individual CoE and not the collective CoE’s (the entire enrolment period that they are with you).

Monitoring Course Progress along with attendance

When the DEEWR-DIAC Course Progress Policy was released many RTOs saw this as an opportunity to ‘get rid of attendance’ and just monitor course progress. And many hurried to do this. Then they realised there was just as many issues with monitoring this as there was with attendance. Overtime we have seen a move back towards monitoring attendance and reporting based on this.

But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a need to monitor course progress, even if you are not reporting on it. The ESOS Act is leaving it up to the ‘discretion’ of the RTO as to which student’s they report and which they do not. Let’s say you have a student who has been ill and has been absent a lot yet has been able to do their studies from home so their progress/performance actually meets the requirements? Would you still report them? If not, how would you prove this if you are not monitoring progress? And in fact how would you know this, would you take it into consideration at the time of making the decision to report the student for nonattendance?

Now there will be many RTOs going ‘that’s common sense’ unfortunately there are many RTOs that are not using this level of consideration and are not using course progress as a backup to their attendance monitoring and vice versa in reality.

‘Study Periods’ are a critical foundation for attendance monitoring and course progress. With the amendments to the ESOS Act this year they will now become a very critical foundation for any CRICOS provider to also manage your students’ tuition fees. It is important that your systems for monitoring attendance are able to manage multiple study periods for a CoE or an ‘enrolment’ and that you can easily identify not only if a student is not attending or performing but as of the 1st July 2012 also for managing their tuition fees.

Reference: RTO Success Magazine

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