Monitoring update: August 2023

Monitoring update: August 2023

Last updated 10 August 2023
Last updated 10 August 2023

At the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC), we gather a range of information about common issues through our monitoring work. We’re committed to partnering with tertiary education organisations (TEOs) and sharing learnings from our monitoring work to help the sector build capability. That way, we can all achieve better outcomes for learners.

This update includes information about:

  • accuracy of course (component) start and end date reporting in the Single Data Return (SDR)
  • adjusting for recognised prior learning
  • ensuring your Fees Free website content is up to date.

Accuracy of course (component) start and end date reporting in the SDR

Although the TEC makes investment decisions at the programme/qualification level, for administrative purposes we also require providers to disaggregate funded programmes into their component parts, or courses. The SDR is then populated with start and end dates per course, and this will determine how funding is apportioned across the programme.

We expect course start and end dates to align with the actual and scheduled delivery of those courses. The SDR Manual – which providers must comply with – defines these:

  • Course start date: “This field is to contain the start date of the student’s course(s) in the current or previous academic year. This date is the officially notified beginning date of instruction and/or structured supervision associated with each student’s course(s) at a tertiary education organisation.”
  • Course end date: “This field will contain the end date of the student’s course. This will normally be the officially notified end date of instruction and/or examination associated with a course. If a course spans the end of the normal academic year, the last date will be for the following year.”

The manual cautions against using “generic” start and end dates unless it is impractical to identify the start and end dates for each unit or course. This allows exceptions in rare circumstances.

The TEC has a responsibility to invest public money responsibly and only fund education and training that is actually delivered. Accurate reporting of start and end dates ensures that:

  • learners do not unfairly miss out on student support initiatives if they withdraw before the end of a programme, and
  • we can calculate learner consumption and entitlements based on a learner’s actual study.

It is therefore important that course start and end dates are accurate as far as possible. The longer or larger the programme, the more important this is.

Please note, however, that once entered in the SDR, course start and end dates should not be changed for any enrolment in future submissions, since equivalent full-time students (EFTS) delivered and funded are calculated over the course of the initially reported period on the basis of reported start and end dates.

Adjusting for recognised prior learning

Recognised prior learning (RPL) is previous study or experience (prior achievement) relevant to the programme the learner is about to enrol in or is currently studying. It enables a learner to proceed with their study without repeating aspects of their previous qualification, or re-learning skills they already have from past work or other experience.

Where you have applied RPL, you must adjust your reporting to ensure you do not incorrectly claim funding. A recent audit of a TEO found that due to an override function in their student management system (SMS), they had not adjusted the reporting and had therefore claimed funding for those enrolments.

We carried out a review of all TEOs that use that SMS to see if the issue was widespread. The review found that one other TEO had also incorrectly claimed funding for RPL. We assisted both TEOs to correct reporting and contacted the SMS provider to ensure that they could fix the system or provide appropriate training.

Ensuring your Fees Free website content is up to date

As per your 2023 Fees Free agreement “you must ensure that any information about Fees Free you provide to learners, employers, or other third parties, including information published on your website, is accurate and up to date”.

We are currently working through the Fees Free-related content on TEOs’ websites to ensure that learners receive accurate and up-to-date information about Fees Free.

Please check your website and update any outdated content. To meet this condition we recommend that you use material in the Fees Free marketing toolkit. We may be in touch to ask you to make changes to your website.