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Student support and progression

Regulatory requirements

Providing distance delivery options to students can result in a different set of support and progression requirements to ensure students are able to progress at the rate required to develop the required skills and knowledge.

Your RTO must ensure the support provided meets the needs of your individual students to maintain student satisfaction and encourage successful completion. Ensure that your students are aware of how they can seek the required support – whether that be through the trainer directly or through helpdesk style support so they can be proactive in accessing the support.

Digital literacy

Digital literacy for online and distance delivery extends broader than whether a student can use a computer or not. RTOs should take into consideration the types of tasks a student will be required to complete throughout their course and whether or not the student has the required knowledge to complete those tasks.  For example, if a student is required to record a video for assessment and then upload that file, do they know how to do it?

Providers should consider the impact limited digital literacy skills will have on their support systems and consider if additional support should be provided upfront to equip students with the necessary skills. Training as part of the enrolment process on how to use any technological resources can provide a student with the required technical knowledge and capability to make their experience more enjoyable.

Student support

Delivering by distance can make it harder to identify when students require more or individualised support in their VET course. Your RTO is required to identify any support needs and provide access to those services. It should not be left entirely to a student to seek support when they need it.

RTOs should also consider providing multiple methods that students can use to make contact with their trainer and assessor, to discuss requirements. This could include telephone, email or the LMS messaging system to enable questions to be answered.


As with a face-to-face delivery mode, the trainer and assessor should be the key contact with the learner. Proactively contacting students, giving prompt feedback on work submitted and encouraging real-time interaction can encourage positive communication and maintain student motivation in their studies.

RTOs could also consider setting up virtual classrooms by using video conferencing to allow increased collaboration between peers and encourage friendships among students that would otherwise occur in a classroom-based course. 

Monitoring progress

Students should continue to be monitored for course progress to track knowledge and skills development and assist to maintain motivation.

Providers conducting delivery online should ensure that learners are regularly logging in, and undertaking their learning, in order to progress through their course. Providers can run reports in their LMS to identify any students who may not be progressing suitably and contact them for support.

It is important that your RTO has a process to document and evidence student progression through online delivery. Maintaining regular contact with the student by telephone and email to discuss the online content and their progression will help in comprehension and will make them feel supported. It can also assist the RTO in verifying the authenticity of the learner.

CRICOS providers must meet the additional course progression requirements at Standard 8 of the National Code.

Overseas students are required to be enrolled in a full-time registered course to undertake study. For VET courses, a full-time course is a minimum of 20 scheduled course contact hours per week, unless otherwise specified by ASQA.

Students are also expected to progress through their course so that they complete the course within the nominated course duration.

Student complaints

Providers that change delivery modes may see an increase in student feedback and formal complaints.

As with all complaints, it is important to acknowledge the complaint promptly and provide regular updates during the process. With a change of delivery modes, complaints can provide a valuable source of information–once resolved–to consider further improvements to delivery practices.

Common complaints

The most common complaints relating to assessment that ASQA receives from learners who are undertaking distance or online learning are:

  • Students undertaking studies via online delivery are not provided with the required support; concerns that trainers and assessors are not responding to emails or phone calls promptly.
  • Students complete their assessments but cannot progress to the next unit of competency until those assessments are marked. These delays can lead to a student not completing their course in a suitable timeframe.

Sector insights

See examples and insights into this area of distance learning, shared with ASQA by members of the Australian VET sector.

View insights from the sector

A student accessing a course online

External resource links

Disclaimer: the following links are provided for reference purposes only. ASQA does not does not necessarily guarantee, approve, or endorse the information or products available on these sites.

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