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What happens when an RTO provider closes unexpectedly

Student Support

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A few days ago, in early October 2022, an established TAE provider closed its doors. In April of this year, another TAE RTO also went into liquidation and left many students, their staff and most likely some suppliers stranded with no idea where to turn.

It didn’t go unnoticed that the above providers were RTOs that offered the TAE40116 Certificate IV at incredibly low prices. In the past, we have written about low-cost providers and offered advice on why “low cost” is not always “ best value”. Unfortunately, due to multiple factors such as the rising cost of living and lack of sufficient information, many students still opt for these lower-cost courses which in turn puts pressure on RTOs who really want to offer the service standards and value for a quality education.

This article has been written for those students facing uncertainty in the face of providers closing their doors and offers some advice on what to expect in the days and weeks ahead.


Unfortunately, it is unlikely that a company will refund any money paid by students, This is not something that an RTO in liquidation can do, as it is up to the liquidators to find ways to recoup money and in most cases, students will not get their fees paid back. This would be something for each student to investigate with the liquidators but can often lead to lengthy emails and lots of time wasted. In most cases, students will need to enrol with a different provider to finish their qualification and they will be required to pay further pay tuition fees for their studies.

How does an RTO report Units of Competency awarded?

As part of the VET Quality Framework, RTOs report the data for completed or awarded Units of Competency to NCVER. It is mandatory that RTOs report this data at least annually by February of each year. Many RTOs report every 3 months as this allows students to gain a rolling account for their progress through a Qualification ( they can see their units awarded as they complete them). Once the data is reported to NCVER the current outcome of the applicable unit will be recorded on the student transcript which can then be viewed by the student in their own unique USI portal.

For example, a student enrols with an RTO into the Certificate IV TAE which contains 10 units. The student has completed 2 units and has been awarded competency ( CA) they are in progress of another 2 units and have not yet started on 6 units (Continuing enrolment) ). Once the RTO reports this data and depending on the USI’s timeframes for uploading of data to transcripts ( which happens on a quarterly basis) the above results will appear on the student’s USI record. It looks like this:

However, using the above example, only the 2 units that have been completed (CA) are recognised and will be accepted for credit transfer by all other RTOs. The units that are documented as continuing enrolment will not be awarded as they are not complete yet.

What happens if I have been told by the RTO that I am competent but it’s not showing on my USI Transcript?

Because data reporting is an annual requirement for RTOs, it may be the case that a student has completed all assessments required for competency to be awarded in a given unit, and they have, in fact, been marked as competent in the Student Management system of the RTO.

However, if this data has NOT been reported yet to NCVER, then the likelihood is that it will not show on the USI Transcript.

It is possible that the RTO in question does the right thing by their students prior to closing the doors and issues a Statement of Attainment (SOA) to every student so they can at least leave their course with units completed so far.

They can then enrol with a different provider and provide the Statement of Attainment (SOA) as evidence that they have successfully completed the unit and the new RTO can then credit transfer these units so that the student does not have to complete the assessments for this unit again.

What happens if my completed units are not showing on my USI Transcript AND I have no Statement of Attainment?

If the closing RTO does not issue a Statement of Attainment it will be difficult for students to get those units credited and they may have to enrol into this unit with another RTO, pay again and complete the work again, this time using the assessment tools and resources provided by the new RTO.

In some instances, your new RTO may look at your completed work and assess it through a Recognition of Prior Learning pathway. This means they will review your previously completed assessment documentation (as long as you still have it on file and it contains an overall assessment summary deeming you competent in the unit) and map it to the assessment benchmarks of the unit you are studying with them.

However, because this requires a very high level of experience and skill from the new RTO in:

  • Understanding how the previous RTO assessed
  • Mapping carefully to the unit and to the assessment task that they use

It can be both a timely and costly undertaking and many RTOs will not offer this RPL pathway solution as for this exact reason. The benefit for the student, however, is that they will not have to repeat any work they have already completed.

What happens if I started my course but did not finish any units of competency in their entirety?

If a student has completed some elements of a unit but not all of them (For example knowledge assessment has taken place but not practical skill assessment) then honestly, the best option would be to enrol new and start from scratch. Every RTO has different Assessment Tasks they create for the completion of entire units. These Assessment Tasks have been thoroughly mapped to the applicable units of competency and have been validated to ensure they meet the requirements of the training package and of the units they are assessing. These assessment tasks cannot be mixed and matched between different providers because there may be gaps that are not obvious at first sight. For an RTO to use someone else’s assessment tasks along with their own can be risky and is usually not an avenue many RTOs will venture down.

For those students that are still unclear about where from here or if you would like to have a general discussion, our course advisors are happy to chat and help you to work out where you are at. It that’s you, fill in the form below and our Course Advisors will get in touch with you soon. Or call our office on 1300 141 994.