The category of provisional registration better represents the training pathways of psychologists than the category of student registration. Student registration is typically applied to registrants in undergraduate programs, or in programs where students are closely supervised in group placements and do not work independently in a practical environment. This does not apply to trainees in 5th and 6th year programs which require trainees to operate autonomously under supervision when practising, usually in one-on-one consultations.
Although trainees have a choice of three routes to complete the 5th and 6th years - either through a workplace internship (4+2 program) or an accredited postgraduatedegree (Masters or Doctorate), or a combination (5+1 program), all have substantial periods of training in supervised workplace placements and are therefore deemed fall into the provisional registration provisions of the National Law rather than the student registration provisions. Provisional registration for 5th and 6th year trainees is also consistent with accepted standard practice in Australia given that 6 of 8 jurisdictions before the national scheme registered 5th and 6th year trainees as provisional (or equivalent) registrants.
In addition, it is not unusual for trainees to obtain paid workplace training positions, or further obtain paid work performing duties as a provisional psychologist under supervision on Board approval. These paid positions are important for growing and maintaining the psychology workforce. Student registration at the 5th and 6th year for postgraduate students would prevent them obtaining such paid places as these are outside their work as a student.
The Board would anticipate considerable discontent from provisionally registered psychologists should it seek to introduce student registration at the 5th and 6th year as it might inadvertently limit an intern's ability to obtain paid supervised training positions which require provisional registration status. For information on gaining approval to undertake placements in addition to university placements refer to the Board’s Policy on working in addition to placements (423 KB,PDF).
Although other health professions (such as medicine and pharmacy) that have provisional registration for graduates undertaking supervised practice also have student registration for individuals enrolled in undergraduate programs, the Board has determined that the first four years of psychology training do not require registration as a student as there are no internship placements, making the risks to the public of these students very low. This decision follows the precedent that there has never been psychology student registration in any jurisdiction of Australia.
Under the national scheme, all individuals working towards general registration as a psychologist will have a consistent title in every state and territory of Australia. This is important in helping the public understand more about the registration status of psychologists.