What we’ve learned about RTO Administration – a vendor’s perspective


The job of an RTO administrator can’t be taken lightly.

Over the years I have spoken to hundreds of administrators addressing their frustrations, knowledge of the VET Sector and expectations of how systems can help them do their job efficiently and accurately. I’ve found that there are many good administrators who know the VET Sector, thoroughly understand the student management processes, are clear about reporting standards and keep up-to-date with changes and industry news. Good administrators are efficient and productive. They never stop learning and they are a huge asset to the business.

People and Systems

There’s no doubt that a good RTO Training and Learning Management System that is comprehensive and easy to use, goes a long way towards helping administrators do their job better, no question! All too often business owners and senior managers underestimate the complexity of compliance reporting and the standards that regulate the VET Sector. They tend to take a ‘helicopter-view’ of the business, expecting that the job is just about data entry. Too often the strategy is buy the cheapest system that will enable the RTO to meet the bare minimum requirements, i.e. submitting AVETMISS NAT files and ticking the minimum number of boxes to get through the next audit. In these environments RTO administrators are generally not provided with the right tools. Nor are they connected with compliance VET Sector experts who could otherwise fast-track their learning and the RTOs value in the sector. These administrators often don’t get the training and support that would enable them to excel in their jobs. They find themselves generally without procedures or structures and having to work everything out by trial and error.

Appropriate Advice

On the other hand, RTO administrators are sometimes hired specifically to bring in knowledge of systems that the organisation has decided to purchase, not realising that they are now old and out-dated. Along with that knowledge the company sometimes inherits bad habits and limited scope for improvement that were dictated by the system, a double whammy. When joining a new RTO that does not yet have a system, some administrators recommend “what they know” and not what is necessarily best for the organisation. Yes, that happens!

Finding the right person

Experience counts for so much, but how does someone get the experience necessary to perform their daily tasks, student administration, enrolments, accurate reporting, preparing for audits, awarding certificates, and above all, delivering ongoing value to the organisation.

I recently read a number of RTO Training Administrator job notices. The first job requirement was the ability to enter student data into a desktop student management system and to have at least 1year experience in that specific system. Say I am a very good highly experienced RTO Administrator and wanted to apply for that job, but my experience is with a better, more up-to date and web-based training and learning management system. Should my application be rejected?  It’s an example of how many RTO’s continue to still use clumsy & outdated software to run their business, resulting in the double whammy of getting both a system and an administrator with limited capacity to add real value to the business.

The daily tasks

I have over 45 years’ experience in business from UWA, my own cooking school, a family business, 10 years at UWA when we put the first students on computer; through to today as a director of Bluegem Software. The changes I’ve seen in technology are mind boggling. But speaking with so many administrators, learning and understanding what they need to do on a daily basis is staggering.  Today’s RTO administrator must have a “can-do attitude “, with a high level of attention to detail as well as:

  • High level of administration and data entry skills
  • Ability to work both autonomously and as part of a team
  • Proven ability to meet deadlines and work under pressure
  • Reliable, flexible and punctual
  • Excellent customer service skills
  • High level of computer skills
  • Entering student data on demand
  • Communicating with students, accommodation, documents, confirmation letters, record keeping
  • Preparation of reports and maintenance of student files
  • Communication with both internal and external clients
  • General administrative duties, including data management and other office tasks as required.
  • Keeping up and understanding the Standards

None of the above are small tasks. But too often, an RTO admin may have to do all that while owning, running and managing their own RTO business. How do they stay sane! Then there are the times to prepare for an audit, there is a change of scope and having to update disparate systems, spreadsheets, document management systems, CRM systems – yes it’s still true today! Many RTO Providers still have multiple systems that don’t talk to each other. Where the same student data is entered and re-entered over and over again SMS > PRISMS > Moodle > CRM > MYOB etc.

So what would make a good RTO administrator smile?

From personal experience of setting up systems and procedures, it would be having data centralised through an effective and integrated solution. Good systems and procedures, adequate training and access to people who can help me through the many twists and turns of the VET Sector are paramount to the health of my soul. What would it mean to a good administrator, to be free to focus on the things I could do to add real value to the business. Having my data in one place improves security, consistency, reduces unnecessary effort, ensure accuracy and puts me in the right frame of mind to enjoy my day.

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