Is it Possible to Improve Your RTO’s Completion Rate?

Is it Possible to Improve Your RTO’s Completion Rate?

This blog has been updated for freshness and relevancy…

The short answer is yes! In 2018 ASQA stated that completion rates are on the rise. However, in the most recent NCVER report, the projected completion rate across all qualifications is still only 49%. Drilling down to qualification level, Cert I Qualifications are lagging the most at just 31.1%.

So why is it still so low and what pearls of wisdom can you implement in your RTO to make a difference to completion rates?

Why is it important?

NCVER state that, “Program completion rates are an important measure for determining the success and efficiency of the Australian Vocational Education and Training (VET) system”, and a research paper by Brad McDonald also states there is a policy focus in this area.

As an RTO, you want to know that the effort you are putting in is providing positive outcomes for your students, team and industry.

Poor performance, skills gaps and a drain on training budgets are also all significant reasons why completion rates are important.

Factors that can impact completion rates

The following chart from NCVER shows reasons that affect completion rates.

Completion Rate

Solutions you could adopt in your RTO

Bridging the Gap Between Study and Work

The purpose of VET is to prepare students with appropriate skills for the world of work. Marketing Student Bruna, talks about work as the holy grail at the end of her studies. Engaging students in other work-ready activities could be the proverbial carrot you can dangle in front of them to see them through to completion.

Things you could set up:

Before Enrolment

  • Display case studies of past students’ pathways to success.
  • Provide clear advice around whether to embark on an Apprenticeship or Traineeship and how to get work experience as a trainee.
  • To get ahead of the curve, you may also initiate going into schools and presenting to children and parents to debunk the myths around VET and careers or Vocational Qualifications Vs a Degree. Read more in the Year13’s, “After the ATAR II” report here.

Support and Progression

  • Offer careers advice, CV writing skills, interview preparation/role plays.
  • Include details of special projects or partnerships that may assist learners in applying their skills in the real world of work.
  • Students undertaking distance learning will require additional considerations to ensure that they are receiving the support to maintain student satisfaction and encourage successful completion. Students must be made aware of how to seek support, so they can be proactive when support is required. There may be more upfront work required from trainers to facilitate learning remotely, perhaps creating more videos, interactive learning content and so on. In addition, when students come to a virtual classroom, the learning and assessment may take place in a different way and new concepts around privacy need to be considered i.e. allow them to opt into having their cameras on in online meetings etc. To read more about managing your student support and progression requirements for distance learning, click here.

Learners That Are at a Disadvantage

Ask students to disclose any potential disadvantage upfront so you can make adjustments ahead of time. You can do this with a web enquiry form. Stipulate that the idea of reasonable adjustment is to give a successful course completion, they still need to do the work, as outlined in this article.

Things to consider:

Tackling Accessibility – Consider if any of your course offerings could be delivered online. Do you have one central point for Learning Materials? Is there flexibility around attending your RTO?

Payment Plans – You may consider offering different models for payment. Monthly payments on a payment plan could be a great way to support your learners’ commitment to their studies.

Accommodating Students With Disabilities – People with disabilities have the same right to access and take part in education and training and RTOs must comply with the Standards, the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (DDA) and the Disability Standards for Education 2005 when providing training to students with disabilities.

Training providers are required to take reasonable steps to ensure that students with disabilities are able to participate on the same basis as students without disabilities.

Course Content Delivery

There are a range of tools you can implement when designing your courses to influence your completion rates, such as:

Maximise Control – Build checkpoints into your course delivery with formative assessment to gauge what your learners are absorbing. It will give you an insight as to whether more training is required and avoid them being deemed not competent and then losing interest.

Make Time – Make your learners feel supported by offering a dedicated block of time for feedback and or trainer meetings.

Short and Sweet – Look into offering Microcredentials. With the rise in eLearning the ability for a student to fit study into their life, rather than life into their study, is now possible AND can have a positive impact on completion rates as well as knowledge retention.

Engaging content – There are a number of different software solutions that are readily available to help you create engaging, industry-relevant, consistent content. Good web design skills and the right software can facilitate the solutions to create and provide a user-friendly interface by using content that works across multiple devices. Some of our favourites include:

  • Articulate 360
  • Thinglink
  • Genially
  • Adobe Captivate

Ensuring learners have the best experience possible is on the forefront for RTOs. But this can be no mean feat. Utilising a purpose-built solution for Training & Assessment like Cloud Assess means your assessments can be built and contextualised the way you want, with the flexibility to adhere to your learning cohort.


All of the above requires time and resources. At Cloud Assess, we help RTOs use technology to enhance the student experience and reduce time spent on admin. Here are some ways Cloud Assess can help nurture students to completion:

Progression and Communication – Streamline your learner journey from enrolment to completion with personalised dashboards, integrated calendars, pop up navigation and reminders.

Automation can be built around your Training and Assessment Strategies, for example, sending an automated email to students when their due date is impending, or unit is resulted. There are a range of Workflows (automated actions) that can be set up in order to drive momentum and keep your training plan moving.

Survey – ASQA surveys students, so why don’t you?! Automate customer engagement surveys at different checkpoints throughout a Learner’s Journey with the exclusive Forms Feature. Address any immediate problems quickly and collate the data for further analysis.

Information at your fingertips – Being able to track and report on completion rates, and even identify specific drop-off points in your courses, can be invaluable for improving your learner completion rates. The image below shows an example of Planned Units Vs Actual using the powerful Cloud Assess Reports Feature.

Completion Rate

Simplify admin – Reduce admin tasks for your team by removing the inefficiencies that surround processing paper, and give them reasons to love their job (even more!).Your team can spend more time doing meaningful work and interacting with students, and less time worrying about paperwork.

While completion rates continue to present a challenge for many RTOs, these suggestions are great starting points and examples of how many small steps taken in the right direction can make a big difference.

1251 1251 Ronan Bray