Also known as RTO Management Software or Student Information System, a Student Management System (SMS) provides RTOs with an easy way to manage student data from initial enrolment to final course results, and everything in between. RTO Software takes care of the everyday student management operations of your organisation.
- The SMS handles critical record-keeping of student profiles, attendance, grades, courses, and other student-related information. RTO administrators use an SMS to ensure no one falls through the cracks.
- Student Management Systems also assists the organisation to meet ASQA’s regulatory guidelines and strict compliance standards. RTO Software can quickly and easily generate all the student reports required to comply with AVETMISS reporting requirements.
Why You Need A Student Management System For Compliance
Australian RTOs are required to record student information and provide reports on that data for the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) which they can collect with the help of a student management system. According to the Standards for RTOs 2015, RTOs must deliver Australian Vocational Education and Training Management Information Statistical Standard (AVETMISS) compliant data while ensuring the security of their student record management system.
The SMS generates training activity data to an AVETMISS text file specified by the AVETMISS compliance requirements. Essential information about your students include:
- Age, gender, demographic information
- Indigenous and disability information
- Geographic location
- Unique Student Identifier (USI)
- Location of training delivery
- Private or government training provider
- Mode of training
- Training activity
- Results of unit/module
You can learn more about AVETMISS compliance and how an SMS is integral to the process here.
In addition to staying compliant with ASQA standards, an SMS makes it easier to manage daily operations. All the information you need to run your organisation is easily accessible in one place. The system simplifies and streamlines otherwise complicated record-keeping tasks, saving administrators valuable time and effort.
What are the common misconceptions about getting a Student Management System?
So many RTOs consider a Student Management System an expense. A good SMS is definitely not a cost to the RTO – it’s a significant cost saving. Let’s break it down:
Without an SMS, RTOs must:
Keep track of student information through physical paper records, or complex and unwieldy spreadsheets and rigorous digital filing processes.
In the days before digital record keeping, admin teams across Australia struggled to keep records organised because of the sheer number of hardcopy documents that had to be maintained and stored – and kept for years. That’s valuable office space, time, and effort used to store piles of paper! The security issue of keeping physical records all in one place is also huge.
The move to digital records obviously reduced the physical storage requirements – but still required rigorous filing systems and huge amounts of manual input and data entry. This also added the issue of data backups, because even the best servers eventually fail, plus cyber security issues because student records could be a gold mine for hackers.
Do reports manually on spreadsheets which are very susceptible to human error.
Let’s be honest with ourselves; no one likes doing these reports. They’re tedious, time-consuming, and incredibly confusing if you’re doing them manually. Administrators can take days just jotting down the information and creating a report to pass standards enforced by ASQA.
At best, you’ll waste valuable time and energy doing reports and at worst, you could be found non-compliant if these reports are not correct and in line with the strict guidelines. RTOs have been shut down in less than a day because of non-compliance issues.
Have dedicated administrators answering calls and providing students with their records, schedules, and more.
I think all RTO administrators can agree that fielding calls and requesting documents eat up a lot of their time. Some RTOs even have dedicated staff just to support student requests! This is time and effort that could be better spent doing more important tasks.
Now, the above examples are just some of the many problems RTOs must worry about when they don’t have an SMS. It’s honestly exhausting just thinking about how we used to manage our day-to-day operations and keep everything going smoothly without a student management system.
With an SMS, an RTO can:
Delegate tasks better and focus on things that matter.
As I’ve said before, an SMS is there to make you and your team’s lives easier. A capable SMS has plenty of features which I’ll detail later on that can provide your organisation a plethora of shortcuts and automations to ensure your team is focusing their efforts on providing an excellent training experience. You don’t have to be bogged down by those menial tasks.
Comply with strict rules and guidelines with ease and efficiency.
Your RTO software should have AVETMISS reporting features and other key compliance tools to ensure that your organisation is complying with rules and regulations. That’s a huge weight off the shoulders of your team because they don’t have to scramble to make the reports and worry about whether or not what they’re doing is compliant with the current standards.
Scale your business without trouble.
Scalability is something I know RTO owners and managers worry about. As your organisation grows, so does the team, clients, courses, and more. Managing the organisation becomes more difficult as the team can’t keep up with the growth. The SMS provides RTOs the opportunity to scale up their business without having to do a complete overhaul. Your RTO software will be equipped to handle your growing business so you don’t have to worry.
I know an RTO software is a commitment but the ease it will bring your team is very much worth it. Even if you’re a small RTO with a couple of courses on offer, you’ll find that this will give your organisation so many advantages in the long run.
Another misconception about student management systems is that they’re hard to use. I can’t speak for all the RTO software out there, but I am confident that most of the SMS you see will be user-friendly. Of course, there will be a learning curve for you and your team but that’s normal when it comes to any new piece of technology.
If you’re unsure about the usability of an RTO software, ask if an SMS provider has a dedicated support team or provides a support package to help your organisation. An SMS is an investment that can do so much for your organisation if you let it.
What Student Management System Features Should You Look For?
The most important feature of an SMS is its ability to store, manage, and distribute student data. Every SMS varies depending on the provider. Some are designed to handle all student data, while others are more specialised to meet the specific needs of an RTO.
Here are the most common features you’ll find in a standard SMS:
Student Record Tracking
More than a place to store data, a good SMS can analyse student behaviour based on the records you’ve accumulated. Having the ability to track student data will supply your organisation with incredible insight that will be useful to growing your organisation.
A robust SMS can set up course enrolments. Administrators can create courses and enrol students into that course, whether it’s short courses or full qualifications, using an SMS. This feature helps course administrators adjust courses and move students around as they see fit.
Students can enrol in courses and pay for their classes online and the information is automatically recorded by the SMS (if integrated with your website or enrolment form). The SMS can then automatically notify the department or trainers involved reducing manual work from your staff dramatically.
Create Schedules and Timetables
A standard feature of a student management system is automated scheduling. This includes assigning trainers to room locations and tracking attendance. Say goodbye to the tedious job of plotting everyone’s schedule and making sure nothing overlaps. Students and trainers will also have an easy way to look up their scheduled courses.
Generate Invoices and Accept Payment
Save your finance team time by automating invoice generation and accepting payments. An SMS with financial features such as invoice generation, recording of credit notes, refunds, and tracking of transactions will help your RTO keep everything under control.
Automate workflows, so you don’t have to worry about doing those tedious and arduous tasks over and over. This could range from notifying students about attendance, enrolment, or surveys to exporting data to be used by the organisation admin. Time-consuming tasks can be automated so your staff can focus on more important matters.
Learning Management System (LMS) Compatible
An SMS and LMS typically go hand-in-hand. If your SMS has a matching LMS, then all the better. The SMS is for handling student information and the LMS is there for training equipped with online assessments, e-Learning resources, virtual classrooms, and much more.
Integrate with Other Software
The good thing with SMS is that it can integrate with other important software for your RTO. Organisations need to work with other applications such as Learning Management Systems, accounting software, CRMs, and the like. An SMS that can easily integrate with your chosen systems will make managing all aspects of the business a breeze.
AVETMISS and CRICOS Reporting
Generate AVETMISS reports and ensure data is compliant to the different state and territory guidelines. An SMS does all the work for you, as simple as that.
Cloud Hosting and Data Migration
Everything is on the cloud, as they say. With the right SMS, your RTO can back up all the info you have on the cloud. If you’re upgrading or moving student management systems, you’d need an RTO software that can migrate information for you. No one has time to manually input data.
Easily verify Unique Student Identifier (USI) so you can comply with USI requirements. Simply plug in the USI and check the SMS! Verification has never been easier with this useful tool.
You’ve got the basics down—it’s time to discuss the benefits. A good SMS gives RTOs the chance to focus on what’s truly important and provide better quality training for their clients.
Learn about the key benefits of having RTO software below:
Advantages of a Student Management System
We’ve mentioned the convenience and main compliance benefits of having an SMS. But there’s more to an SMS than just those main perks. With an SMS, you’ll be able to do more.
Streamline and Simplify
Managing an RTO gets busy, and it’s difficult for administrators and trainers to keep track of everything. This is where the SMS comes in. The automation and other administrative features make it easy for RTOs to simplify their internal processes and streamline tasks. An SMS typically comes with a dashboard where administrators can see all relevant student information at a glance.
Saves Administrators Hassle
You wouldn’t believe how much manpower it takes to field calls from students asking for their records, schedules, and whatever documents they may need. I’ve seen RTOs have dedicated personnel just to answer these calls which quite frankly is a waste of time.
With an SMS, administrators don’t have to experience the hassle of riffling through papers and going through file cabinets just to get the proper records. Your administrators can simply click and search the SMS.
Documentation made easy
There’s a lot of paperwork involved in running an RTO. Documenting students, trainers, courses, company policies, and so much more can quickly become a complicated endeavour. With an SMS, you’ll be able to store the important information in a central location and categorise all the data you have so you can find what you need quickly and efficiently. You can make changes and keep track of your student records with ease.
Manage Reports, Surveys, and Trainer Competence
RTOs need to provide plenty of reports and surveys to ASQA in order to stay compliant. An RTO must also conduct Learner Engagement surveys for students so the organisation can identify areas in need of improvement. After getting the results, RTOs must create an action plan to tackle areas of improvement in the future.
In addition to surveys and reports, RTOs must ensure their trainers are fully qualified and follow ASQA’s standards. An SMS provides administrators with a convenient way to check trainer profiles to see if they’re up to date with their competencies.
Access It Anywhere
The SMS can be accessed anytime, anywhere which is especially useful now with more people working from home. A standard SMS can also be accessed through different devices such as desktops, tablets, or smartphones. Trainers and administrators can access records easily in this centralised software.
RTOs manage heaps of important data with sensitive information on students and trainers. Before RTO software became the norm, organisations secured their paperwork with lock and key and backed up through reams of copies. Nowadays, with an SMS, organisations can safely store and back up their data digitally.
Choosing a Student Management System
Now that you know what an SMS is and what it can do for your RTO, it’s time to find the right one for your organisation. Not all student management systems are made the same.
Choosing an SMS provider is a long-time commitment that could make or break your organisation. It’s not a decision that should be taken lightly. To further help you out, here are some tips you need to know before deciding on your RTO software.
Make sure it meets ASQA Standards
The SMS you choose must be able to comply with the standards required by ASQA. See if your SMS provider has the proper verifications in NCVER’s software register here. It must meet the basic requirements; otherwise, you’ll just be wasting money signing up for an SMS that doesn’t help you be compliant.
Know your needs as an RTO
As I’ve said before, not all student management systems are made the same. Before you choose, look at your organisation and figure out what it needs to make workflows easier and more efficient. If your RTO needs specialised features, find an SMS that can meet those needs instead of settling for less.
Do your research
You’re already on the right track since you’re reading this guide. Now, you must look into the student management systems out there on the market and do your due diligence. See for yourself what providers have to offer. This includes going on walkthroughs and tours, so you have firsthand knowledge of these student management systems.
Need more information? We’re here to help!
If you’re looking for a robust and easy-to-use SMS, eSkilled Student Management System is here to assist you with all your RTO software needs. Our SMS comes complete with AVETMISS and CRICOS Reporting, Integrated LMS, Secure Data and Cloud Hosting, and other critical compliance features. We also have an LMS that pairs perfectly with our SMS for those looking for a more holistic RTO software solution.