Clauses 3.1 to 3.4—Provide secure certification

Clause 3.1

The RTO issues AQF [Australian Qualifications Framework] certification documentation only to a learner whom it has assessed as meeting the requirements of the training product as specified in the relevant training package or VET [vocational education and training] accredited course.

Clause 3.2

All AQF certification documentation issued by an RTO meets the requirements of Schedule 5.

Clause 3.3

AQF certification documentation is issued to a learner within 30 calendar days of the learner being assessed as meeting the requirements of the training product if the training program in which the learner is enrolled is complete, and providing all agreed fees the learner owes to the RTO have been paid.

Clause 3.4

Records of learner AQF certification documentation are maintained by the RTO in accordance with the requirements of Schedule 5 and are accessible to current and past learners.

What clauses 3.1 to 3.4 mean for your RTO

Your RTO must have controls in place to ensure qualifications, statements of attainment and records of results are not issued unless the student has completed all assessment requirements. Inappropriately issued certification poses a significant risk to your RTO’s reputation and to the VET sector.

To reduce this risk, you should have systems in place to ensure that:

  • certification is only issued to students that have fully demonstrated competence in all training product requirements
  • evidence of this can be demonstrated.

If your RTO delivers at multiple locations, consider centralising issuance of certification to strengthen these controls.

To ensure the credibility of VET sector qualificationsRTOs must meet the requirements of the AQF Qualifications Issuance Policy and include any additional information specific to the VET sector, as per Schedules 4 and 5 of the Standards.

If you have third party arrangements for the delivery of training and assessment, the third-party may not issue qualifications or statements of attainment using their own name or branding. 

A non-RTO third party cannot offer to provide or provide a VET course under its own name and as such cannot issue qualifications or statements of attainment in its own name or with its logo included.

All issuance of testamurs must be by the principal RTO that holds registration to deliver the VET course. 

For more information, refer to ASQA’s Fact sheet—third-party arrangements.

RTOs must also consider the requirements of clause 3.6 and ensure qualifications or statements of attainment are not issued until the RTO has obtained and verified a Unique Student Identifier (USI) for that person (unless exempt).

When issuing certification:

  • issue in a timely manner, so students can provide proof of their competence to employers (or potential employers) and obtain any industry licences or accreditation. Providing all fees have been paid, AQF certification documentation must be issued within 30 calendar days of the student exiting their course or the student’s final assessment being completed
  • issue AQF certification documentation directly to the student, not to another party, such as an employer
  • issue students who have completed all units or modules in a qualification with a testamur and a record of results
  • issue a student who has completed one or more units/modules (but not a full qualification) and has finished their training with your RTO with a statement of attainment (a record of results may also be issued in this case)
  • ensure students can access records of certification issued to them.

In accordance with the AQF Qualifications Register Policy, as an issuing organisation your RTO must:

  • maintain a register of all AQF qualifications it is authorised to issue
  • maintain a register of all AQF qualifications it issues to graduates.

To avoid possible delays in issuing certification, ensure that your RTO has processes in place to verify a student’s USI well in advance of when certification is expected to be issued. It is strongly advised that you collect and verify a student’s USI at the point of their initial enrolment.

You are only required to issue AQF certification documentation when a student has completed their program of training and assessment with your RTO. You are not required to issue ‘interim’ documentation at any time.

Your RTO must retain records of qualifications and statements of attainment issued for 30 years. If you have gathered and retained full Australian Vocational Education and Training Management Information Statistical Standard (AVETMISS) data, this would suffice. You must retain sufficient data to be able to reissue a qualification or statement of attainment during this 30‑year period, regardless of the storage method used. If your organisation ceases being an RTO, you will be required to provide this information to ASQA in digital form.

Your RTO must ensure that current and past students are able to access records of their achievements. All students who have provided a verified USI, and whose results have been reported into the national VET provider collection, will be able to access their records through the USI system. If a student’s achievements have not been recorded through the USI system, you will need to have processes in place to ensure that this student can access their records in another way.

A guide to compliance

Your RTO must retain evidence that sufficient controls are in place to prevent certification being issued before a student is determined competent in all assessment requirements of the relevant training product. Some electronic student management systems require evidence checklists to be completed before generating documentation. RTOs may also use manual methods, such as:

  • completing a checklist before a qualification is printed or signed
  • requiring all completed assessment to be presented to the person signing or issuing the certification.

Your RTO must retain evidence that qualifications and statements of attainment meet all the requirements of the AQF and Schedules 4 and 5 of the Standards. You may be required to provide evidence that any additional content included on certification is accurate and does not create confusion about which organisation is issuing the certification.

The issuing organisation must have, and implement where necessary, a policy that enables the replacement of certification documentation.

The issuing organisation is responsible for authentication and verification of any replacement certification documentation.

Your RTO must demonstrate that it has mechanisms in place to reduce fraudulent reproduction of certification. At a minimum, you must include your RTO’s name, code and logo, and the issuance date, on all certification.

You should retain evidence that:

  • certification is issued within 30 days of a student completing their training and/or assessment (subject to all fees having been paid)
  • all students receive all documents they are entitled to, including records of results where applicable.

You must also retain:

  • evidence of how current and past students can access records of certification issued to them
  • evidence that these records are or will be retained for a period of 30 years.

Tips for ensuring the integrity of qualifications

ASQA will focus on evidence demonstrating the integrity and credibility of qualifications issued.

This might mean testing that your systems and risk controls are robust. ASQA may look at whether your issuance practice aligns with your documented systems (for example confirming with past students when their certification was issued).

ASQA’s previous regulatory experience has found examples of non-compliance with these requirements. To ensure the integrity of qualifications, RTOs should avoid:

  • inadequate verification of identity when online delivery and assessment is used—for example, not ensuring that the person completing the assessment is the person to whom the credential is issued
  • using outdated course nomenclature or outdated information such as superseded units of competency
  • not clearly identifying the RTO
  • inaccurate or incomplete registers
  • not providing information about the language of instruction (for an organisation providing training in languages other than English).

Guidance for applicants for initial registration

You must provide evidence of:

  • how your organisation will ensure certification is only issued when all required assessments have been completed
  • templates for qualifications, records of results and statements of attainment that meet all requirements
  • how you will ensure certification is issued within 30 days
  • a register of qualifications and statement of attainment that will record to whom and when the qualification and statement of attainment was conferred and issued
  • a policy that permits the replacement of certification documentation
  • how students will access records of certification issued to them
  • how you will retain records of qualifications and statements of attainment issued for 30 years.

ASQA has developed sample templates that are included in the ASQA fact sheet on sample AQF documentation.

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