Home' VCE Expo : April 2010 Contents NATAGE S017
Vocational and Higher Education
CRICOS PROVIDER CODE 02141D
THE AGE • MONDAY, APRIL 19, 2010
YOU can study just about anything at a private
college or institution -- from beauty and make-
up to architecture, event management or the
Private colleges include business
colleges, computer training
specialising in particular
fields such as aviation, photography,
interior decorating, multimedia, hospitality
management and tourism. .
The difference is that you may not able
to defer payment for your studies. This can
mean hefty upfront fees, although most
colleges offer payment plans. This is fine
if you can afford it and you know that the
institution is credible and reliable. But what if
something happens and you've paid money in
advance but can't finish the course?
Fortunately, the Education Services for
Overseas Students (ESOS) legislation requires
all providers to refund course money if either
the student or provider defaults. If that fails,
the student must be placed in an alternative
comparable course through the Tuition
Assurance Scheme. If that fails, the student
can apply to the ESOS Assurance Fund,
which organises alternative tuition or a
ACPET says that more than 2
million people choose to study at
private colleges each year.
The advantages of choosing
a private college is that many
were started by people who are
passionate experts in their
fields. Many colleges are also
specialists, offering intense
training in particular fields.
Many offer smaller classes,
with a focus on producing work-ready
graduates. Some offer bachelor degrees from
which you can graduate more quickly as there
are no other general course requirements.
Courses are taught by industry experts rather
To make the right choice, your first step
should be to talk to people in the industry
about which college or institution they
recommend. It's no good signing up for a
course that the industry does not value.
Carolyn Bond, joint CEO of the Consumer
Action Law Centre, says students should
be wary of colleges and institutions that are
reluctant to disclose their prices over the
phone. "It appears that some colleges may
attract people by offering a very low price -- a
type of second-class course -- then convince
people to sign up for something more
expensive later," Bond says.
"It's no different from buying any other
products. People often talk about being
prepared when going to a car dealer; it's the
same when you're going to speak to someone
about courses and colleges. The key is to go
home and think about it for a few days. Be
wary if the college won't give you that time
and says that it won't be available unless you
sign up immediately."
Bond warns students not to be fooled
by official words, either. "Anyone can call
themselves 'the Australian something or
other'. There's no prohibition on the word
'institution' either, and probably college."
Bond says you should ask whether
the course is accredited, how long the
institution has been going, whether there are
government subsidies or benefits available,
and whether you leave with a recognised
But don't tar all colleges with the same
brush. Many private colleges have long
histories of providing high-quality education.
Taylors College, for example, was established
in 1920, and the Melbourne College of Hair
and Beauty has been operating since 1962.
The key is to do your homework.
If your field of study is a
niche area that requires
training by industry
specialists, then studying
at a private college
might be for you.
Jane Cafarella reports.
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